Bashaara Graves helped the USA U18 squad to gold last summer.
May 19, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee's Bashaara Graves once again has earned the opportunity to represent her country. The rising Lady Vol sophomore was announced Sunday by USA Basketball as a member of the 12-member USA U19 FIBA World Championship team.
Graves, a product of Clarksville, Tenn. (Clarksville H.S.) competed for the berth over the weekend along with incoming UT freshman Jordan Reynolds at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo. Graves will represent the USA in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, hosted by Lithuania from July 18-28 in Klaipeda and PanevėÂ×ys.
Graves is one of five members of the 2012 USA U18 National Team that captured the FIBA Americas U18 Championship last August to make this year's squad. She will once again play for the same coaching staff that includes among it head coach Katie Meier (Univ. of Miami) and assistant coach Nikki Caldwell, a former Lady Vol player and coach who now is head coach at LSU.
"I'm thrilled. The length is incredible, the talent, the diversity," said USA U19 head coach Katie Meier following the team announcement. "Everybody brings a little something different. That gives us a lot of choices as coaches in a lot of different ways that we can win basketball games.
"(The committee) put together what I think is the team that answers any type of a question. We have speed. We have quickness. We have size. We have shooters. They really made sure that they gave us every weapon."
The USA will regroup for training on July 1 at the USOTC prior to traveling to Europe for a July 11-14 Spain-hosted tournament in Lanzarote, Canary Islands. Featuring U19 squads from Australia, Canada and Spain, the tournament will be good test for the U.S. From there, the American women will travel to Lithuania in an attempt to defend gold and win their fifth-straight U19 world title.
The 6-foot-2 Graves, the 2013 SEC Freshman of the Year and a Full Court Freshman All-American, will try to win her fourth international gold medal. She helped USA U18 and U16 squads to FIBA Americas Championships in 2009 and 2012 and aided the U17 squad to a 2010 FIBA World Championship.
Q&A With Bashaara Graves After Being Selected
You've been through the selection process a few times now, were you still nervous?
"I was definitely still nervous. When they were naming the names my heart was beating really fast, I was nervous and just really happy when I heard my name called."
You've been through USA Basketball trials before, how much did that help this time?
"I think it gave me a lot more confidence coming into it because I already knew how Colorado was, I already knew how the trials go, so just being out here with the other girls this time I was able to be more of a leader then I was when I was trying out when I was younger."
What can you bring to this year's team?
"Definitely my leadership because I'm one of the oldest players on the team, my rebounding ability and just being a leader altogether, getting the team together and doing as much as I can to help us win."
Having the coaches and five players from last year's U18 team obviously is going to be a big help, talk about how that's going to be helpful this year?
"It definitely helps a lot because we already know some of Katie's (USA head coach Katie Meier) plays, we already have that bond with the coaches and that bond with each other, so we just need to help get the rest of the girls together and have the team work together."
What is it that brings you back every year to play for USA Basketball?
"It's a great opportunity and even if I don't make the team it is a great opportunity to come out here and play with the best and if I do make the team it's just great. Being a part of USA Basketball is unbelievable and a great experience."