Danielle McCray Named A Finalist For USA Basketball's World University Games Team

May 17, 2009


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, with University of Kansas rising senior Danielle McCray earning a nod. 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.

McCray, an All-American candidate and 2009 First Team All-Big 12 member, was one of 30 players invited to the trials and the first player with Kansas ties to be invited since 2005 when Jayhawk guard Shaquina Mosley attended the trials.

“This was an amazing experience,” said McCray, an Olathe, Kan., native. “Getting an opportunity to compete with and against some of the top players in the country was a huge challenge. I am thrilled to be named a finalist, but I realize that my work has only just begun.”

In addition to McCray, 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); 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 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.”