Hartley and Ogwumike handed USA opportunity
COLORADO SPRINGS (FIBA World Championship for Women) - They may not have been in the initial 2014-2016 player pool but that hasn't stopped Bria Hartley and Chiney Ogwumike from being handed a spot each at the first training camp ahead of the FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey.
The duo were the two new names added to the glittering array of talent which will assemble at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland at the beginning of next month as head coach Geno Auriemma gets to choose from a 27-strong candidate list.
"The 27 who have been invited represent a cross section of what the USA National Team is ultimately all about," he said.
"It's some of the best players in the world. It's a combination of past Olympic and World Championship gold medalists.
"It's also young players who have also won gold medals at various levels of USA Basketball, pros in the WNBA, college players, veterans and rookies and everything in between.
"I think we're going to be able to pick a 12-player roster that's going to be as good as any team we've ever had."
Auriemma also backed the USA Selection Panel handing berths to both Hartley and Ogwumike.
"Coming out of college last year, two of the best players in college basketball, they distinguished themselves over four years playing at the highest level and now they've gone onto play in the WNBA as rookies.
“With Chiney in Connecticut, I've had a chance to follow her progress. She's been absolutely amazing and no one competes harder than Chiney does.
"Bria's gone to Washington and played a great role in helping them make the playoffs this year with such a young roster that they have.
"So I'm excited about the possibility of having both of them in the camp. I know both of them really wanted to be there last fall and couldn't, so this is a great opportunity for them and I'm looking forward to seeing them out there."
Both players are no strangers to attaining success in national team vests having won medals at youth level. Hartley is also a two-time NCAA champion with the University of Connecticut and has helped the Mystics stay in the WNBA play-off hunt with 9.7 points and 3.1 assists per game this season.
Ogwumike was the first pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft and a recent WNBA All-Star. She also averaged 15.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game for Connecticut during her inaugural season and has been a two-time WNBA Rookie of the Month award winner.
Players competing in the WNBA Finals will not be available for the training camp.
USA preliminary squad for FIBA World Championship for Women: Seimone Augustus, Sue Bird, DeWanna Bonner, Tamika Catchings, Tina Charles, Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins, Stefanie Dolson, Candice Dupree, Sylvia Fowles, Brittney Griner, Bria Hartley, Briann January, Jantel Lavender, Kayla McBride, Angel McCoughtry, Maya Moore, Chiney Ogwumike, Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Candace Parker, Danielle Robinson, Odyssey Sims, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi, Courtney Vandersloot, Lindsay Whalen and Monica Wright.
The USA will compete in a pair of exhibition contests during its domestic training with an intra-squad clash at the University of Delaware, followed by a meeting with Canada in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
They will then head to Europe where they will play four additional exhibition games against France, Australia, the Czech Republic and China, before eventually arriving in Istanbul to start the defence of their title.