Elon’s Smith Opens Practice with USA Women’s Basketball for U19 World Cup

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Elon University women’s basketball head coach Charlotte Smith joined USA Basketball over the weekend to begin practice with the 2017 U19 World Cup Team in preparation for the FIBA World Cup later this month in Cividale del Friuli and Udine, Italy.

Announced in February Smith would serve as an assistant coach with the team, she will look to help the U19 team to a seventh-straight gold medal at the event, which runs from July 22-30. Working with USA Basketball throughout the month, this marks the second consecutive summer Smith has been an assistant coach with USA Basketball after helping coach the 2016 U18 National Team last year that won gold at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.

“I’m super excited to be competing for the World Cup this summer,” Smith said. “Last year was the FIBA Americas Championship, but this year is against the world. It should be some great competition and I’m looking forward to going back to Italy, where I used to play professionally and where I had two great seasons before coming back to the United States. It’s great to be with USA Basketball again this summer and I’m excited to compete for the gold medal again.”

With preparations starting over the weekend at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., the team will practice until July 14 before heading to Italy. Prior to the U19 World Cup, the United States will partake in a three-game invitational against U19 teams from host country Italy, Latvia and Spain in Udine. The first game will be played July 17 against Spain before taking on Italy on July 18 and Latvia on July 19.

Following the round-robin tournament, the USA squad will have an additional two days of practice, which will include a scrimmage against France’s U19 team on July 20. Two days later, the U.S. will open World Cup play against Mali on July 22 and take on China on July 23 before closing the preliminary round against Italy on July 25. After the preliminary round, teams will be seeded according to group play and all participating teams will advance to the July 26 round of 16. Winners will advance to the July 28 medal quarterfinals, while the remaining teams will continue playing out for classification. The medal semifinals will be held July 29 and the gold and bronze medal games are slated for July 30.

“Practice has gone really well thus far,” Smith said. “The chemistry on this team is at an all-time high. We’ve spent a lot of time on leadership and team building and focusing on what it means to represent the United States, what it means to wear the jersey and how big of an honor it is to represent the USA.”

Smith is joined on the coaching staff by Pittsburgh head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, who is serving as the head coach for the U19 team, and Northern Colorado head coach Kamie Ethridge. Players named to the team include: Bella Alarie (Princeton/Bethesda, Md.); Jeannie Boehm (Harvard/Winnetka, Ill.); Chennedy Carter (Timberview H.S./Arlington, Texas); Crystal Dangerfield (Connecticut/Murfreesboro, Tenn.); Tyasha Harris (South Carolina/Noblesville, Ind.); Ruthy Hebard (Oregon/Fairbanks, Alaska); Joyner Holmes (Texas/Cedar Hill, Texas); Kayla Overbeck (Vanderbilt/Newbury Park, Calif.); Reili Richardson (Arizona State/Brea, Calif.); Alecia Sutton (Texas/St. Louis, Mo.); Megan Walker (Monacan H.S./Chesterfield, Va.); and Christyn Williams (Central Arkansas Christian School/Little Rock, Ark.).

Other nations participating in the event include Australia, Canada, Egypt, France, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Korea and Spain.

After competing her standout playing career at North Carolina in 1995, Smith went to Italy for two seasons and had a very successful run, which included being named the MVP of the Italian All-Star Game for the 1995-96 season. Following her time in Italy, Smith returned to the United States after being selected by the Colorado Xplosion of the American Basketball League.

FIBA U19 World Cup for Women
Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, FIBA changed the names of its age-based world championships in 2005 to reflect the age of eligibility, and recently updated the names of all of its world championships to world cups. The tournament was held every four years starting in 1985. FIBA in 2005 modified its calendar and now conducts the U19 World Cup every other year. USA women’s teams are 73-12 in U19/Junior World Cups, capturing a sixth-consecutive gold in 2015 with a 7-0 record.

Notable players to represent the USA at the FIBA U19 World Championship include: Alana Beard (2001), Essence Carson (2005), Tamika Catchings (1997), Bria Hartley (2011), Crystal Langhorne (2005), Jantel Lavender (2007), Lisa Leslie (1989), Rebecca Lobo (1993), Maya Moore (2007), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (2009), Vickie Orr (1985), Cappie Pondexter (2001), Katie Smith (1993), Dawn Staley (1989), Azurá Stevens (2015), Breanna Stewart (2011 and MVP of the 2013 U19 World Championship), Diana Taurasi (2001), Morgan Tuck (2011 and 2013) and A’ja Wilson (2013 and MVP of the 2015 U19 World Championship).