Aug. 3, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The 2012 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team will reconvene for training camp Aug. 4-11 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC). Tennessee freshman forward/center Bashaara Graves will be on the 12-player roster that will make its final preparations for the upcoming FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Following its camp at the USOTC, the team will depart for San Juan on Aug. 12 for the tournament, which will take place Aug. 15-19. The USA has been placed in preliminary round Group A and will open play against the Dominican Republic on Aug. 15. The USA will play Argentina on Aug. 16 and then face Colombia on Aug. 17 to wrap up preliminary pool play. The top two teams from each preliminary round group will be seeded and advance to the medal semifinals on Aug. 18. Winners of the semifinals will compete in the gold medal game to be played on Aug. 19.
"We have a heck of a lot of work to do in a very short time," said USA Head Coach Katie Meier. "Number one, we must establish our identity and chemistry. This is a special group of women, and I know they will play extremely hard for each other. They truly enjoy each other and they also really push each other in practice. I can't wait to compete."
Graves was named to the team on May 21. One week after the team was announced and players returned home to their respective cities, the squad reassembled in Orlando, Fla., for five days of training that culminated with a 97-36 exhibition win over Brazil on May 31 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resorts. Graves tallied 14 points, six boards and an assist in 21 minutes of action during that victory.
The UT newcomer said her performance in the exhibition contest provided her with some very positive reinforcement.
"I'm a rebounding-first kind of player," Graves said. "Most of my points came from rebounds, so that helped my confidence a lot. Getting the amount of playing time I did also was a confidence booster. That really helps me as we head into the upcoming training session."
Graves, who enrolled at UT for the second summer session, took advantage of the Lady Vol facilities to work on her conditioning and facets of her game in preparation for the USA training session and FIBA tournament.
"I've worked a lot on my conditioning, because when we train in Colorado, the altitude is going to be a challenge," Graves said. "I've been working on getting my jumper better than it was in high school. It has improved a lot. I've been working on my transition defense, too."
A veteran of USA Basketball, Graves was a member of the 2010 USA U17 World Championship Team that captured the gold medal with a perfect 8-0 mark at the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship. In 2009, Graves was on the USA U16 National Team that won the gold medal and earned the USA's berth to the 2010 U17 Worlds.
Graves said she is excited about the opportunity to represent the USA once again and just do what she enjoys.
"I look forward to playing for my country and playing with some of the best players in the country like I do here," Graves said. "Also, I look forward to the experience of going to Puerto Rico and having fun playing basketball and doing what I love to do."
WORTH NOTING: The USA women are the reigning FIBA Americas U18 champion after going 5-0 to win gold in 2010...Former Lady Vol player and assistant and current LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell serves as one of the U18 squad's assistant coaches...Former Lady Vol player Jill Rankin Schneider is head coach of the USA Basketball U17 squad that will play in the 2012 FIBA World Championship for Women in Amsterdam...She led the USA to gold in the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.