COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -- Texas A&M’s Morenike Atunrase (Shreveport, La.), A’Quonesia Franklin (Tyler, Texas) and Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) were among 45 of the nation’s elite college athletes invited to the 2007 USA Basketball Women’s National Team Trials to be held on May 17-20 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Atunrase, a 5-foot-10 combination guard/forward, received an invitation to the trials for the third year in a row, but will not be able to participate due to recovery from a stress fracture. Meanwhile, Franklin and Starks will vie to represent the United States this summer at either the FIBA U21 World Championship or Pan American Games along with other elite players such as George Washington’s Jessica Adair, Maryland’s Crystal Langhorne, Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris, North Carolina’s Erlana Larkins, Marquette’s Krystal Ellis, Liberty’s Megan Frazee, Connecticut’s Charde Houston, Georgia’s Tasha Humphrey, Arizona State’s Briann January, Western Kentucky’s Crystal Kelly, North Carolina’s Rashanda McCants, Oklahoma’s Ashley Paris, Duke’s Abby Waner, Stanford’s Candice Wiggins and Texas’ Earnesia Williams.
The invitations were issued by the USA Basketball Women’s Collegiate Committee chaired by Sue Donohoe, vice president of NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball. The committee is expected to announce finalists for the 2007 USA U21 World Championship Team and the 2007 USA Pan American Games Team on May 20.
No fewer than 16 of the selected student-athletes earned 2007 All-America honors including Franklin, a 5-foot-3 point guard, who was named an honorable mention pick by The Associated Press. She was one of two Aggies to play and start in all 32 games of the season and led the Big 12 for the third consecutive season with an impressive 1.91 assist-to-turnover ratio. She dished out a team-best 149 assists to become the third A&M player in school history to turn in three-straight 100+ assist seasons. Franklin was honored as an All-Big 12 First Team selection by the league’s coaches and by The Dallas Morning News. She was named twice this season as Big 12 Player of the Week and has recorded 454 career assists to date which ranks fourth all-time at A&M.
Starks, a 5-foot-8 guard, was also an All-Big 12 First Team performer averaging a team-leading 14.2 points per game. She also played and started in all 32 games of the season and ranked among the top 10 scoring leaders in the Big 12. Starks shot 38.2 percent from beyond the three-point arc which ranked seventh-best in the league. She was honored as Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 15 and has registered nine 20-point games during her A&M career.
Atunrase, Franklin and Starks led Texas A&M to its first Big 12 Conference title during the 2006-07 season. The Aggies (25-7) made their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and finished ranked among the top 25 teams in the country in both national polls.
The U.S. will look to defend its world title at the 2007 FIBA U21 World Championship (open to athletes 21-years-old or younger and born on or after Jan. 1, 1986) on June 29-July 8 in Moscow, Russia. Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie returns as the USA’s head coach after piloting the 2006 USA U20 National Team to a gold medal at the 2006 FIBA Americas U20 Championship. She will be assisted by collegiate head coaches Sam Dixon of Furman and Charli Turner Thorne of Arizona State. The USA U21 finalists, named following the USA Trials, will reconvene in Colorado Springs on June 12 to begin training for the tournament, and the eventual 12-member team will be named prior to the squad departing for Europe on June 16. The United States was placed in Group B in the 12-nation tournament along with Australia, Brazil, Hungary, Japan and Spain. Group A includes Belgium, Canada, China, Mali, France and Russia.
The Pan American Games women’s basketball tournament will be held on July 20-24 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and will feature eight national teams from FIBA Americas. Coaching the U.S. squad will be Temple head coach Dawn Staley, a 2007-08 USA Basketball Women’s Senior National Team assistant coach. Assisting Staley will be collegiate head coaches Kathy Delaney-Smith of Harvard and Bill Gibbons of Holy Cross. The USA Pan Am finalists named following the USA Trials will reconvene on July 6 in Washington, D.C., and the eventual 12-member squad will be named prior to the team departing for Brazil on July 16.
Trials will feature an opening session on May 17 beginning at 6:30 p.m. (MT) followed by two-a-days on May 18-19, with morning sessions tipping-off at 10 a.m. and evening sessions at 5:30 p.m. and an 8:30 a.m. session on May 20. USA Basketball is expected to announce finalists for each team following the morning session on May 20.
2007 USA BASKETBALL WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM TRIALS SCHEDULE
May 17-20, 2007
U.S. Olympic Training Center’s Sports Center II
at Colorado Springs, Colo.
Thursday, May 17
Session I: 6:30-8:15 p.m.
Friday, May 18
Session II: 10:00 a.m.-Noon
Session III: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 19
Session IV: 10:00 a.m.-Noon
Session V: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 20
Session VI: 8:30-10:00 a.m.