A Star-Studded Roster: Meet The 12 Members Of The U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team
by Todd Kortemeier, Chrös McDougall
Just half of the 12-player roster for the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team has previous Olympic experience, but that experience equals 15 gold medals.
USA Basketball announced the experienced squad Monday morning on NBC’s TODAY show. Some of the most decorated stars of international basketball such as Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are back for a fifth Olympic Games, joining with other Olympic veterans and six first-time Olympians to go after Team USA’s seventh consecutive gold medal. The U.S. squad also has a combined 19 FIBA World Cup gold medals, making one of the most experienced teams in the world.
“USA Basketball has never been in a better place,” said U.S. head coach Dawn Staley in a news release. “… I’m so proud to be the coach of Team USA and like all of the coaches, support staff, and our players, I can’t wait to make America proud this summer.”
Here’s a closer look at the 12 players looking to continue the U.S. gold medal standard in Tokyo.
Ariel Atkins plays during the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2020 Group A match on February 8, 2020 in Belgrade, Serbia
One of a trio of three 24-year-olds on the team — though she'll turn 25 in Tokyo — Atkins is making not only her Olympic debut but her senior international debut. The Washington Mystics’ guard does have USA Basketball experience on the youth side, winning gold with the 2014 FIBAAmericas Under-18 Championship team as well as participating in numerous training camps.
Sue Bird poses during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympic shoot on November 23, 2019 in West Hollywood, California.
For the fifth Olympic Games in a row, Team USA will be able to count on one of the living legends of the sport. The 40-year-old Seattle Storm point guard and her four gold medals are back for another run, and the U.S. has never lost an Olympic game with her on the team. The U.S. in fact is 142-6 all-time with Bird and has also won four FIBA World Cup gold medals and one bronze medal. Those nine total medals are the most for any basketball player in the world.
Tina Charles plays in the second half of a game against the USA Select Team at Galen Center on July 25, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
The center is back for a third Olympic Games, hoping to add to her resume of two Olympic gold medals and three World Cup gold medals. The former WNBA No. 1 overall draft pick, Charles was the 2012 league MVP and is a seven-time All-Star. Now 32, Charles made the senior national team for the first time in 2009 and was named USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year that season.
Napheesa Collier dribbles during Game Three of their Third Round playoff against the Seattle Storm at Feld Entertainment Center on September 27, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida.
Collier, 24, is making her Olympic debut but is a Youth Olympian from 2014, where she played 3x3. Collier has international experience in 3x3 and 5x5, compiling a total record of 49-1 across both. The 6-foot-1 guard-forward most recently won a gold medal in 5x5 with the national team at the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup. She was a WNBA All-Star and Rookie of the Year for the Minnesota Lynx in 2019.
Skylar Diggins-Smith handles the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during an exhibition game at KFC YUM! Center on February 2, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Diggins-Smith was part of the team that won the first-ever FIBA 3x3 World Cup in 2012, but will be making her 5x5 senior debut at a major tournament. Diggins-Smith, who will turn 31 in Tokyo, does have gold medals from youth teams including the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship team. The guard is a four-time WNBA All-Star now playing with the Phoenix Mercury.
Sylvia Fowles looks on during USA Women's National Team Winter Tour 2020 game between the United States and the UConn Huskies at The XL Center on January 27, 2020 in Hartford, Connecticut.
Fowles will become just the sixth U.S. basketball player, male or female, to play in four Olympic Games. The 35-year-old Minnesota Lynx center is a WNBA MVP and two-time Finals MVP and is known as a defensive force. Fowles has won three Defensive Player of the Year awards and is a six-time All-Star. Fowles most recently won an international gold medal on the 2019 AmeriCup team, winning the tournament MVP award.
Chelsea Gray drives in for a shot during USA Women's National Team Winter Tour 2020 game between the United States and the UConn Huskies at The XL Center on January 27, 2020 in Hartford, Connecticut
Gray, 28, is headed to her first major international championship. That’s fitting for the 5-foot-11 guard who has made a nice career for herself after being selected 11th overall from Duke in the 2014 WNBA Draft. Now a three-time WNBA All-Star and 2016 league champ with the Los Angeles Sparks, Gray has taken part in several national team training camps and exhibitions but never a major tournament in the red, white and blue.
Brittney Griner keeps control of the ball during the game at Galen Center on July 25, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
Team USA’s towering inside presence, the 6-foot-9 Griner is going for her fourth major international championship at age 30. Also a 2016 Olympic gold medalist, Griner helped the U.S. to titles at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, and was the player of the game in the latter. Also a national champion at Baylor, Griner is a member of the exclusive club of 11 women who have won an Olympic, World Cup, WNBA and NCAA title.
Jewell Loyd celebrates during the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2020 Group A match at Aleksandar Nikolic Hall on February 8, 2020 in Belgrade, Serbia
One of the relatively green members of this loaded U.S. team, at least in terms in international experience, Loyd nonetheless heads to Tokyo with a 2018 World Cup title under her belt, as well as two WNBA titles for the Seattle Storm. Loyd, a 27-year-old guard, also won the 2014 3x3 World Cup with Team USA, making her the first person to win that tournament at the 3x3 and 5x5 levels.
Breanna Stewart poses during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympic shoot on November 23, 2019 in West Hollywood, California.
Diana Taurasi dribbles the ball during the USA Vs France Women's Basketball Semifinal at Carioca Arena1 on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Treading dangerously into GOAT territory, Taurasi, a 6-foot guard, is headed to her fifth Olympics, and that’s barely scratching the surface. At 39 years old, Taurasi is also a three-time World Cup champ, three-time WNBA MVP and six-time EuroLeague winner. Then there are the individual honors: 1 WNBA MVP, 2 WNBA Finals MVPs, 3 EuroLeague Finals MVPs, 4 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year honors. Oh yeah, she’s also the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer. Need we go on?
A'ja Wilson poses during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympic shoot on November 23, 2019 in West Hollywood, California.
One of the WNBA’s brightest young stars, Wilson, 24, will make her Olympic debut after previously helping lead Team USA to gold at the 2018 World Cup. She was the youngest member of that team and averaged 10 points and 4 assists throughout the tournament. The 2020 WNBA MVP with the Las Vegas Aces, Wilson, a 6-5 forward, brings a perfect 47-0 national team record to Tokyo.