Thursday, June 13, 2024

Now it’s official: Caitlin Clark didn’t make the Olympic team, and Kahleah Copper did

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The U.S. women’s basketball Olympic team was officially announced Tuesday, confirming the news that Caitlin Clark isn’t on it.

USA Basketball hasn’t said much yet about why it didn’t pick Clark, amid the continuing uproar on TV talk shows and social media about not taking her. That might change later today during a news conference with team officials.

For now, the announcement seemingly made a point of highlighting the squad’s “extensive USA Basketball experience,” and the first name mentioned has the most of anyone: Diana Taurasi, age 42 and going to her record sixth Olympics.

» READ MORE: Should Caitlin Clark’s popularity matter for picking the Olympic team, or just basketball?

Taurasi’s inclusion probably is the most controversial, and not just because of Clark. Arike Ogunbowale is on a tear for the Dallas Wings this year, with 26.4 points, 5.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game, but has been on the outside looking in when it comes to the national team.

At least there isn’t too much controversy about the rest of the team — including North Philly native Kahleah Copper, who’s going to her first Olympics. She’s having a great first season with the Phoenix Mercury, playing with fellow Olympic team picks Taurasi and Brittney Griner.

Griner’s inclusion also is a big deal: it’s the biggest stage she’ll be on since coming home from a Russian prison in December 2022.

Harrisburg-area native Alyssa Thomas of the Connecticut Sun brings some more local representation, this time to the post. She’s averaging just short of a triple-double this year: 12.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 8.5 assists.

» READ MORE: Team USA and the WNBA are fools. Caitlin Clark is too important to be bullied and snubbed. | Marcus Hayes

The rest of the Olympic squad starts with four players from the two-time reigning WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces: Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum, A’ja Wilson, and Jackie Young. Gray hasn’t played yet this year because of an injury, but she attended a U.S. camp in April, and the national team clearly is betting she’ll be healthy by July.

If she isn’t, a replacement player will have to be picked before the Olympics start. That leaves the door open for Clark to come on.

New York Liberty stars Sabrina Ionescu and Breanna Stewart, the Seattle Storm’s Jewell Loyd, and the Minnesota Lynx’s Napheesa Collier round out the 12-player roster.

» READ MORE: The Caitlin Clark discussion got really loud and a little nutty. Let’s get real about it. And about her. | Mike Sielski

The U.S. head coach is South Jersey native Cheryl Reeve, who’s also the head coach of the Lynx. Her assistants are Duke women’s head coach Kara Lawson, Texas A&M women’s head coach Joni Taylor, and Washington Mystics general manager Mike Thibault.

The U.S. roster was picked by a committee that includes Reeve’s predecessor (among many titles) Dawn Staley, ex-Olympians Seimone Augustus and DeLisha Milton-Jones (both now also in the college coaching ranks), WNBA head of league operations Bethany Donaphin, and Connecticut Sun president Jennifer Rizzotti, who serves as the chairperson.

The U.S. has won seven consecutive Olympic women’s basketball gold medals and nine overall.

» READ MORE: Fans lined up for hours to meet legendary basketball coach Dawn Staley at Mitchell & Ness

2024 U.S. women’s basketball Olympic team

Guards: Kahleah Copper (Phoenix Mercury), Chelsea Gray (Las Vegas Aces), Sabrina Ionescu (New York Liberty), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces), Jackie Young (Las Vegas Aces)

Forwards: Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Breanna Stewart (New York Liberty), Alyssa Thomas (Connecticut Sun), A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces)

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