Bradley Central’s Rhyne Howard Named to USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team
(USA Basketball) After three days of trials that began with 35 hopefuls on May 26 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the 12-member roster today was named for the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team.
Named to the team were: Aijha Blackwell (Whitfield School/Berkeley, Mo.); Jenna Brown (The Lovett School/Smyrna, Ga.); Queen Egbo (Travis H.S./Houston, Texas); Nazarah Hillmon-Baker (Gilmour Academy/Cleveland, Ohio); Rhyne Howard (Bradley Central H.S./Cleveland, Tenn.); Olivia Nelson-Ododa(Winder-Barrow H.S./Winder, Ga.); Jordan Nixon (Mary Louis Academy/New York, N.Y.); Anaya Peoples(Schlarman H.S./Danville, Ill.); Sedona Prince (Liberty Hill H.S./Liberty Hill, Texas); Abby Prohaska (Lakota West H.S./Liberty Township, Ohio); NaLyssa Smith (East Central H.S./Converse, Texas); and Christyn Williams (Central Arkansas Christian School/Little Rock, Ark.).
“We were really, really impressed with how all of the players at trials competed,” said Jennifer Rizzotti(George Washington University), chair of the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, which is responsible for selecting the athletes and coaches for the USA U18 National Team. “ How they were prepared every day to come in and compete, how coachable they all were and how good of teammates they were to each other, which made our job a little bit harder. But at the same time, it makes us feel confident that we are giving this coaching staff a group that is really going to be ready and prepared to compete for a gold medal.
“We put together a very versatile, strong and mature team,” Rizzotti added. “There was a lot of depth at every position for this team and lot of players that can play multiple positions. We know the way that Jeff (Walz) wants to play, and so we tried to give him a lot of versatility.”
The team features five international medalists, four athletes who had attended at least one prior USA Basketball training camp and three USA Basketball rookies.
“What a wonderful group that we had out here competing for the U18 team,” said USA U18 head coach Jeff Walz (University of Louisville). “It was a group that competed in every single scrimmage. They went out and did exactly what they were asked to do. The energy level was fantastic. It was a remarkable three days of trials.
“Now that the team has been selected, you’ve got your 12,” Walz said of the roster. “Now, we are looking forward to getting to know them and finding out what combinations will work the best.”
Natasha Adair of the University of Delaware and Cori Close of UCLA serving are the USA’s assistant coaches.
Walz, Adair and Close will guide the USA at the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, where the top four finishing teams at the championship will earn a qualifying berth into next summer’s 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.
The team members will return to Colorado Springs for training camp on July 20, before the team departs for the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, which will be held Aug. 1-7, 2018, at a location still to be announced. Athletes eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens who are 18 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 2000).
USA women’s teams boast of a remarkable 53-2 overall record in U18/Junior qualifiers and have won gold in 1988, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016; while capturing silver medals in 1992 and 1996.