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Release courtesy of USA Basketball: The selected finalists will return to Colorado Springs on June 18 and train through June 25, when the team is expected to depart for the 2009 World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia. The 12-member roster will be announced prior to the team’s departure. 

COLORADO SPRINGS Colo. — Following three days of trials at the U.S. Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA Basketball today announced 14 finalists for the 2009 USA Women’s World University Games Team. The finalists were selected by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by Sue Donohoe, the NCAA Vice President for Division I Women’s Basketball.

The 2009 USA World University Games Team finalists roster includes four two-time USA gold medalists in Jayne Appel (Stanford / Kansas City, Mo.), Jantel Lavender (Ohio State / Cleveland, Ohio), Maya Moore (Connecticut / Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Kayla Pedersen (Stanford / Fountain Hills, Ariz.); as well as USA gold medalists Tina Charles (Connecticut / Jamaica, N.Y.), Tiffany Hayes (Connecticut / Lakeland, Fla.) and Ashley Houts (Georgia / Trenton, Ga.). Rounding out the finalists roster are Alexis Gray-Lawson (California / Oakland, Calif.); Whitney Hand (Oklahoma / Fort Worth, Texas); Danielle McCray (Kansas / Olathe, Kan.); Jacinta Monroe (Florida State / Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.); Ta’Shia Phillips (Xavier / Indianapolis, Ind.); Jeanette Pohlen (Stanford / Brea, Calif.); and Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma / San Jose, Calif.).

“The competition level was very high. You had tremendous talent out on the floor. It was a fun trials to just sit and watch the quality play of these young women,” Donohoe said. “If there was anything surprising at all, it was the intensity level that these young women kept throughout the trials. Sometimes you come in and they go through a session or two and they start getting tired and that intensity level drops. What we saw during these trials was the intensity level seemed to pick up with each training session and that made our decision a little bit more difficult.

“I think we feel really good about the trials and we’re going to take 14 young women for both the U19 and World University Games training camps. Those 14 young women will compete for 12 positions on each team, so the challenge this morning to those young women was the opportunity now to come into training camp as prepared mentally and physically as they possibly can to compete for those 12 spots. I think they will respond in a positive manner, and I think we will have two great training camps coming up.”

The selected finalists will return to Colorado Springs on June 18 for training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and train through June 25, when the team is expected to depart for the 2009 World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia. The 12-member roster will be announced prior to the team’s departure.

The World University Games is organized by the International University Sports Federation and held every other year. The women’s basketball competition will take place July 1-11. Eligible athletes for the USA team must be currently enrolled in a college or university and have remaining NCAA athletic eligibility.

After assisting the USA women to a gold medal at the 2007 FIBA U21 World Championship, Arizona State’s Charli Turner Thorne returns to the USA sideline as head coach of the 2009 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team. Suzy Merchant of Michigan State University and Julie Rousseau of Pepperdine University will serve as assistant coaches.

“We’ve got a lot of fire power, a lot of offensive weapons especially inside with tremendous post play and wing play with (Maya) Moore and (Danielle) McCray. I really feel like, even though I don’t think it showed in the trials, I do think we’re going to be a very strong perimeter shooting team. I liked our aggressiveness on defense, we’re going to get after it. We definitely need to shore some things up in terms of transition and screen D, but I’m confident that we can do that in the week and a half we have to prepare. I know we’re going to be a great rebounding team, and I know from past experience with USA Basketball that’s been a strength of our teams, and I see that continuing with the squad we have.”

The finalists roster features two athletes, Hand and Hayes, who completed their freshman years of college this past season, six who finished their sophomore campaigns and six athletes who were juniors in terms of NCAA eligibility in 2008-09.

Just three schools feature multiple representatives on the roster and all three programs reached the NCAA Tournament Final Four. NCAA champion University of Connecticut is represented by Charles, Hayes and Moore; Appel, Pedersen and Pohlen play for Stanford University; and Hand and Robinson are from the University of Oklahoma. In addition, Gray-Lawson and Lavender played in the Sweet Sixteen; Monroe advanced to the second round; and Houts and Phillips made a tournament appearance.

Charles was named the 2009 Women’s Final Four Most Outstanding Player, while Appel and Moore were named All-Final Four and Moore was tabbed the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Trenton Regional.

Seven USA Basketball gold medalists appear on the finalists roster, including four with multiple gold medal finishes.

In the summer of 2007, Houts averaged 4.1 ppg. as the lone rising sophomore on the USA U21 National Team that wrapped up an 8-0 record and gold medal at the 2007 FIBA U21 World Championship.

Lavender, Moore and Pedersen led the USA to a 9-0 record and gold medal at the 2007 FIBA U19 World Championship and a 3-0 tally in exhibition play. Moore averaged a team-leading 16.3 ppg. along with 6.4 rpg. and 2.3 apg.; Lavender grabbed a team-high 8.1 rpg. to go with her 16.0 ppg.; and Pedersen averaged 2.8 ppg. and 3.2 rpg.

Also in 2007, Appel averaged 4.8 ppg. and 5.0 rpg. to help the USA tally a 5-0 record and capture the gold medal at the Pan American Games; and Hayes averaged a team-high 11.2 ppg., 3.8 rpg., and 3.0 spg. to help the USA White Team to a 5-0 record and gold medal at the 2007 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival.

In 2006, Appel, Charles, Lavender, Moore and Pedersen played together on the gold medal winning USA U18 squad that wrapped up a 4-0 record at the 2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. Charles averaged a team-leading 12.0 ppg. along with 9.5 rpg; Moore tallied 9.5 ppg., 5.5 rpg., 2.3 apg. and 3.8 spg.; Appel added 7.0 ppg. and 9.0 rpg.; Pedersen contributed 6.3 ppg. and 7.0 rpg.; and Lavender averaged 5.8 ppg. and 6.3 rpg.

At the 2005 Youth Development Festival, Appel (6.0 ppg. and 7.4 rpg.) played for the USA White Team, which recorded a 2-3 record and collected the silver medal; and Charles (21.0 ppg. and 13.4 rpg.) helped the USA Red Team to a 3-2 record and bronze medal.

In addition, the 2006 U18 National Team Trials featured Robinson, while Gray-Lawson attended the 2006 U20 National Team Trials and Monroe and Pohlen participated in the 2007 U19 National Team Trials.

Three athletes, Hand, McCray and Phillips, are new to USA Basketball.

Several finalists garnered national honors, including Moore, who was named the 2009 Naismith and Wade Trophy winner and the U.S. Basketball Writers (USBWA) Player of the Year.

Joining Moore on the USBWA All-America Team were Appel and Lavender; while Appel, Charles and Lavender were named among the 12 finalists for the Wade Trophy.
The 2009 WBCA State Farm Coaches’ All-America Basketball Team included Appel, Charles, Lavender and Moore; while Houts, McCray and Phillips received honorable mention.

Four players earned Player of the Year honors in their conference, including Appel (Pacifc-10 Conference), Lavender (Big Ten Conference), Moore (Big East Conference) and Phillips (Atlantic 10 Conference), while Hand was named Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year.

Named to their all-conference first teams were Appel (Pac-10), Charles (Big East), Gray-Lawson (Pac-10), Lavender (Big Ten), McCray (Big 12), Moore (Big East), Phillips (Atlantic 10) and Robinson (Big 12). Listed on all-conference second teams were Houts (Southeastern Conference), Monroe (Atlantic Coast Conference) and Pohlen (Pac-10); while Pedersen (Pac-10) was a third team selection.

Hand (Big 12) and Hayes (Big East) made conference all-freshman teams, and Hand (Big 12) also was tabbed all-conference honorable mention.
Selected to their all-conference defensive teams were Monroe (ACC), Phillips (Atlantic 10) and Robinson (Big 12).

Jantel Lavender
The Ohio State University

How does it feel to be named as a finalist?
I am excited. I worked hard. I started off kind of slow, but I picked it up in the last few sessions. I think for the most part I came, and I worked hard. It’s exciting to make the first cut.

What would it feel like to represent the USA and compete for a third gold medal?
It would mean a lot to me. Winning a gold medal the two times that I have done it meant so much, and it felt so good to know that we worked so hard and we represented our country so well. Being able to do it again would be another honor for me.

What will be your focus between now and the start of training camp?
I’m just going to get in tip-top shape and work on my post moves and finishing well. I wasn’t finishing well during trials, so I’m going to come back and make sure my post moves are very efficient.