Caitlin Clark has left the US Olympic team. Main List Aja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, and Diana Taurasi

Caitlin Clark has left the US Olympic team.  Main List Aja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, and Diana Taurasi

Written by Shams Charania, Joe Vardon, Mark Beaulieu, Ben Beckman, and Chantelle Jennings

Indiana Fever rising star Kaitlyn Clark has been left out of Team USA’s 12-player women’s basketball roster for the upcoming Summer Olympics. The official USA Basketball roster was announced on Tuesday.

The list shows a preference for veterans with Aja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi, Brittney Greiner, Alyssa Thomas, Navesa Collier, Joelle Lloyd, Kelsey Bloom, Jackie Young, Sabrina Ionescu, Chelsea Gray and Kahleigh Cooper selected. The American women have won gold at every Olympic Games since 1996, and this all-star roster appears poised to become the favorite in Paris.

Seven of the 12 players have five-on-five Olympic experience and two others have 3×3 experience, so there will only be three first-time Olympians – Thomas, Cooper and Ionescu. Selected players began receiving Team USA Olympic jerseys recently.

Committee Chairman Gene Rizzotti said The athlete The players’ previous experience was taken into consideration.

“We were supposed to give (Olympic coach) Cheryl (Reeve) a team that had experience and knowledge of international competition, familiarity with the coaching system, leadership abilities, versatility and depth at every position,” Rizzotti said. “The 12 players we selected, we felt were the best when it came to the basketball decision.”

Taurasi, who will be 42 when the Games begin, will compete in her sixth Olympic Games, breaking an international record she set with five other athletes, both men and women. Her Phoenix Mercury teammate Griner played in two previous Olympics.

A two-time WNBA MVP and two-time Finals MVP, Stewart will compete in her third Olympics. In Tokyo in 2021, she averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game and was named Most Valuable Player of the Olympic Tournament.

Wilson, another two-time WNBA Player of the Year, scored 16.5 points per game in Tokyo in her Olympic debut, and is off to a strong start this season in the WNBA, averaging 28 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.

Clarke, Breonna Jones and Aliyah Boston are likely to be substitutes if one of the 12 players is unable to play, sources familiar with the discussion said. Boston, Clark’s Fever teammate and last year’s WNBA Rookie of the Year, is another young talent who was noticeably left off the list.

Clarke is coming off a historic NCAA career at Iowa State, where she became Division I’s all-time leading scorer and won two National Player of the Year awards. On Friday, she hit seven 3-pointers and matched her NBA career high with 30 points in a win over the Washington Mystics.

In March, Clark was one of 14 players to receive an invitation to the U.S. national team’s final training camp before the Summer Games. She was unable to attend because she was playing Iowa in the Final Four, while several players with years of service in the US national program before her attended. The American women have held periodic training camps for national team candidates for years. Although it is not mandatory, it goes a long way in helping the selection committee decide which 12 will represent the most dominant basketball program – men’s or women’s.

The list was selected by the women’s basketball committee, which includes South Carolina coach and former Team USA coach Dawn Staley, three-time Olympian and LSU assistant Simone Augustus, two-time Olympian and Old Dominion coach Delisha Milton-Jones, and Connecticut Sun president Jennifer. Rizzotti and WNBA President of League Operations Bethany Donavin.

With four members of the Las Vegas Aces, the 2024 Olympic roster is reminiscent of the 2016 Olympic roster. In 2016, a third of the team was made up of Minnesota Lynx players — Maya Moore, Lindsey Whalen, Augustus, and Sylvia Fowles — amid a historic streak of four NCAA titles WNBA in seven seasons. In the last episode of The athlete On the women’s basketball showcase, Augustus pointed out how including multiple players from one team could benefit Team USA, which doesn’t have much practice time together in its final 12 games before the Olympics. The 2024 roster won’t actually meet until the week before the All-Star Game in July.

Is Clark’s absence a surprise?

It’s not entirely surprising that she didn’t make the team. The truth is that the US women’s basketball team, winners of seven consecutive Olympic gold medals, is the strongest collection of basketball talent in the world. Many of them have played together in the WNBA or in the Olympics. Clarke, due to her collegiate season, has never participated in a senior national team camp this cycle, which may have raised some questions about how she will fit in on the field. The roster is full of continuity — think of the four Aces and three Mercury players on the roster.

It’s also hard to imagine that her slow start to the WNBA season didn’t influence the decision. Although Clark has seen some spikes — on Friday night, for example, she became the first player in WNBA history with 200 points and 75 assists through her first 12 games — she also leads the WNBA with 67 turnovers — 29 more than any other player. . His 32.7 percent 3-point shooting clip is also lower than many expected. However, by leaving Clarke off the roster, the Olympic Committee appears to be accepting lower TV ratings than if Clarke was on the team. -Ben Beckman, women’s basketball writer

The list is skewed toward players with professional experience

What makes Clarke’s omission — and that of her Fever Boston teammate — surprising is that the Olympic team often includes younger players who are unlikely to be major contributors in the short term but are viewed as the future of the program. But that is not the case this year as 26-year-old Ionescu is the youngest player.

Naturally, this year’s roster is rich in talent. The 2028 Olympic roster will almost certainly be favorites entering the 2028 Olympics as well. So, even without Clark, Boston or Atlanta Dream Ryan Howard on the roster this year, it’s not as if the USA is behind the competition. However, the list-building philosophy adopted by the selection committee is noteworthy. – Beckman

Can Clark still participate?

One question that remains unanswered is whether Gray will be available for the Olympics. She suffered a lower leg injury in Game 3 of the 2023 WNBA Finals and has not played yet this WNBA season. However, she has participated in the U.S. Olympic training camp in Cleveland and, if healthy, could potentially be the starting spot. In theory, Clarke could potentially replace Gray or be a replacement if any further injuries occur before the Olympics. However, once the event starts, neither Clark, Jones, nor Boston can participate, even if the player is injured while competing. – Beckman

Required reading

A previous version of this story misstated whether USA Basketball would name replacements for its women’s Olympic team. Although three players are considered as potential substitutes in the event that one of the 12 players in the squad is unable to play, the official replacements are not expected to be publicly revealed early.

(Photo: Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

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