Tuesday morning in Las Vegas, where the Lynx were scheduled to play the Aces, Minnesota star Napheesa Collier was told she needed to come down for a meeting.

What followed were two surprises:

First, Collier ran into Briana Weiss, USA Basketball women's national team director. Collier was expected to be a part of her second Olympic team, but the official announcement came Tuesday. And, with Collier and three Aces players set to be on the team, Weiss was in town with the news and Olympic jerseys.

And then: Her No. 11 USA jersey slung over her shoulder, Collier and Cheryl Reeve, coach of the Lynx and the Olympic team, walked through a pair of double doors to a celebration. Her teammates were there, cheering. There were balloons, many of which spelled out "CONGRATULATIONS."

"I was already in shock," Collier said of Weiss' in-person appearance. "Then I walked around the corner and the team is there. It was really fun. I love this team, this organization. They're always so supportive."

Again, Collier was expected to be on the team for the Paris Games this summer. She went to the Olympics in Tokyo (held in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic), already having finished in the top five in WNBA MVP voting, having won rookie of the year honors and been to All-Star Games. But she was also the youngest of the gold-medal-winning team's 12 players and played the least.

But she watched, listened, learned.


"Obviously, I hope my role is a lot bigger this time," she said.

Count on it. Heading into Tuesday's games, Collier is averaging 21.4 points and career highs in rebounds (11.4), assists (3.5), steals (2.2) and blocks (1.5) for a Lynx team that has won eight of its first 11 games. She is fourth in the WNBA in scoring, third in rebounds and steals. In February, at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Antwerp, Belgium, Collier led the U.S. in scoring (19.0) and was named one of the five top players at the tournament.

And now: Paris. At first Collier joked about how hard it might be to get along with her coach. But seriously?

"We're super proud," Reeve said of Collier's selection. "To be able to be on this journey with her makes it truly special."

"I'm just going to go out and do whatever the coach asks me to do," Collier said. "Whatever that looks like. Every time I have a chance to go out on the court I'm going to give it 100 percent, just like I do every time. I'll do anything to help the team win."

Team USA will be expected to do just that. The Americans have a 70-3 all-time record in Olympic play. They have won the past seven gold medals and have not lost a game in Olympic play since 1992.

"I am very excited about the roster the USAB Selection Committee landed on for the Paris Olympics," Reeve said in a statement early Tuesday. "The roster boasts great positional balance and extensive experience with USA Basketball at both the junior and senior levels and in 5-on-5 and 3x3. Nine have represented the USA at the Olympics and 10 have represented the USA at the FIBA World Cup. Though we have more WNBA games to focus on, I am looking forward to joining these 12 players in July in Phoenix to begin our final march towards our goal of the gold medal at the Paris Olympic Games."

Collier making the team continues a tradition. A Lynx player has been on every Olympic team since Katie Smith — now the Lynx's associate head coach — was on the 2000 squad. Smith was an Olympian again in 2004. In 2008 it was Seimone Augustus. In 2012 and 2016 it was Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore. Collier and Sylvia Fowles were there the last time.

"It's been a lot of hard work," said Collier, 27, in her sixth WNBA season. "Every offseason you're going out there, trying to reevaluate what you need to get better at. I just worked on those things. I'm older, I'm wiser, I have more experience in the game."

With women's basketball reaching new heights of popularity and visibility, the selection of the 12-member team has been scrutinized more closely, perhaps, than ever before. Many, for example, thought rookie sensation Caitlin Clark should have made the roster.

"It's a really hard roster to make," Collier said to a more general question about the selection process. "The 'W' is the most competitive league, and you're cutting that down to 12 people. It's a hard decision. I think everyone on the team deserves to be on the team. I think there are more people who deserve to be on the team as well.

"Ultimately, it's what the committee decides. I think the team looks really good. A solid veteran presence, middle and younger people. I know, obviously, who you're talking about. It's a hard decision. I'm glad I didn't have to make it."

U.S. women's national basketball team

Napheesa Collier, forward, Lynx

Kahleah Copper, guard, Phoenix

Chelsea Gray, guard, Las Vegas

Brittney Griner, center, Phoenix

Sabrina Ionescu, guard, New York

Jewell Loyd, guard, Seattle

Kelsey Plum, guard, Las Vegas

Breanna Stewart, forward, New York

Diana Taurasi, guard, Phoenix

Alyssa Thomas, forward, Connecticut

A'ja Wilson, forward, Las Vegas

Jackie Young, guard, Las Vegas