NEW YORK — Rest, injury, the WNBA playoffs and retirement have left the U.S. women's basketball national team with a fresh look heading into training camp this week.
Seven members from the 2016 Olympic team likely won't be on the world cup roster, giving many younger players a chance to represent the U.S. later this month in Spain.
Lindsay Whalen and Tamika Catchings are retired. Angel McCoughtry (knee) and Sylvia Fowles (elbow) are injured. Elena Delle Donne also is injured after suffering a bone bruise in Game 2 of the Washington Mystics' WNBA playoff series with the Atlanta Dream, causing her to miss Game 3. Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus are resting after a grueling, compact WNBA season.
Former Olympians Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Breanna Stewart are still competing in the WNBA playoffs, which could end a few days before the worlds begin.
Still, there is no dearth of talent participating in a three-week training camp that will have stops in South Carolina, Connecticut, Washington D.C. and France before the world cup in Spain. Former WNBA MVPs Tina Charles and Nneka Ogwumike headline the 18-player group that begins training in South Carolina this week.
"I'm excited to get started next week," U.S. coach Dawn Staley said. "Anytime you have veterans who have done this two, three, four or more years, people who have participated in World Cups and who are committed to coming back and playing, it gives the coaching staff a sigh of relief. So we have a few veterans, and then we have some young players who may have an opportunity to experience their first World Cup, and I'm excited for them. These things are fluid, we'll add more players as we go along. But I know that whoever is here is extra-committed to the task at hand, and that is winning a gold medal. "
Joining Charles and Ogwumike is Odyssey Sims, who was also on the 2014 world championship team that won gold in Turkey. Other WNBA players in camp include Layshia Clarendon, Diamond DeShields, Stefanie Dolson, Allisha Gray, Kelsey Mitchell, Tiffany Mitchell, Kelsey Plum, Morgan Tuck and A'ja Wilson.
Tiffany Hayes, Jewell Loyd and Elizabeth Williams are also on the invite list, but are competing in the WNBA postseason.
To bolster the roster for training camp, the U.S. added college players Napheesa Collier of UConn, Tyasha Harris of South Carolina, Ruthy Hebard and Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon and Arike Ogunbowale and Jessica Shepard of Notre Dame.
The U.S. will play a red-white scrimmage in South Carolina on Wednesday, which will be a great chance for Gamecock fans to see former players Wilson, Tiffany Mitchell, Allisha Gray as well as current member Harris. The team will then head to Connecticut to play an exhibition game against Canada before a game in Washington against Japan.
"The Red-White game is going to be fun for our fans," Staley said. "Our fans here at South Carolina are basketball fans. They support basketball. And at a time when everyone here is excited about football, including me, they're still excited about basketball. And the Red-White game is a prelude to our basketball team's season, especially with the four Gamecocks on the roster."
The Americans will then head to France for a pre-world cup tournament. The worlds run from Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, The U.S. is in a pool with Senegal, China and Latvia.