Stafford named to 2012 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team roster
May 21, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Texas Women's Basketball signee Imani Stafford (Los Angeles, Calif.) was one of 12 players named to the 2012 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team, the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee announced Monday. The team will compete in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship to be held in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, Aug. 15-19, with the top three squads securing a berth in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women in Lithuania.
"Any time you step on that court wearing anything USA is an honor," said Stafford. "The fact I made the final team just makes it even better. I just want to go out, play hard and get ready for college. Hopefully we'll bring back the gold."
The 2012 U18 team was chosen following five trial sessions held May 19-21 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Stafford was one of 26 athletes who accepted an invitation to attend.
"It really was a difficult decision with all of the talent on the court," said committee chair Sue Donohoe, executive director of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. "It's not so much about taking the 12 best players, it's taking the 12 players that can come together to make the best team. Throughout the trials some playersstepped forward, some players stepped back, and then you just have to evaluate the whole process and find the 12 that can bring back a gold for the U.S."
University of Miami head coach Katie Meier will serve as head coach of the U18 squad, while collegiate head coaches Nikki Caldwell of Louisiana State University and Kelly Graves of Gonzaga University will act as assistant coaches.
"I love it. I think it's an unbelievable roster with great balance," said Meier. "The committee did a fantastic job of really thinking through situations, scenarios and needs for an international game. What a great group of kids. I'm fired up."
The team will gather for its first training camp May 28-June 1 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. The USA squad will then return to the USOTC for its final training camp Aug. 4-12, prior to traveling to Puerto Rico for the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
Stafford will be joined by teammates Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North H.S. / North Syracuse, N.Y.); Bashaara Graves (Clarksville H.S. / Clarksville, Tenn.); Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook H.S./ Bolingbrook, Ill.); Jannah Tucker (New Town H.S. / Randallstown, Md.); Moriah Jefferson (Texas Home Educators Sports Association / Glenn Heights, Texas);Alexis Prince (Edgewater / Orlando, Fla.); Kendall Cooper (St. Anthony H.S. / Carson, Calif.); Allisha Gray (Washington County H.S / Sandersville, Ga.); Lexie Brown (North Gwinnett H.S. / Suwanee, Ga.); Michaela Mabrey (Manasquan H.S. / Belmar, N.J.) and Brittney Sykes (University H.S. / Newark, N.J.).
Stafford has previous competitive experience playing for the USA Women's Basketball National Team having been a member of the gold medal-winning 2010 U17 National Team that posted a perfect 8-0 record at the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championships in Hamburg, Germany. Stafford averaged 3.6 points per game as well as a team third-best 5.3 rebounds per game. She was also selected as a finalist for the 2011 USA Basketball U19 World Championship team last May.