- Glenn Nelson, ESPNHS HoopGurlz
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Color the USA Basketball U16 team as red, white and blue collar.
After signaling such intentions by sending off guards, such as Kelsey Mitchell of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Alexa Middleton of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who dared show some individuality, the USA Basketball selection committee chose a 12-player squad on Monday that is heavy on work ethic and conformity.
Kaela Davis, the Kobe-esque guard from Suwanee, Ga., was somewhat of a divergence and arguably the team's centerpiece. The daughter of former NBA player Antonio Davis, she was an electric presence through the three-day trials that began with 121 candidates. Davis also was the only player who had previous experience trying out for a national team, having competed in the trials for the U17/18 teams last year.
At the opposite end of the experience spectrum, two freshmen, Recee' Caldwell of San Antonio, Texas, and Jordin Canada of Los Angeles, Calif., were appointed as the team's point guards. Both have shown scoring prowess and a penchant for the spectacular with their high-school and club teams, but played more of a care-taking, facilitating role during the trials.
The team, coached by Jill Rankin-Schneider of Monterey (Lubbock, Texas), will compete in the FIBA Americas qualifying tournament in Merida, Mexico, June 21-25. The FIBA U17 World Championships will be held Aug. 17-26, 2012, in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
This year's version mirrors the first-ever U16 team in that it includes three underclassmen (Caldwell, Canada and Jatarie White of Charlotte, N.C.). The U17 squad last year was updated to include an equal mix of 2011 and 2012 players.
The selection committee's predilection for hard workers was reflected, for example, in keeping front-liners such as Stephanie Mavunga of Indianapolis, Ind.; Erica McCall of Bakersfield, Calif., and Sydney Umeri of Acworth, Ga., over more nationally well-known players such as Kendall Cooper of Carson, Calif., and Briana Turner of Pearland, Texas. Also keeping with its recent past, the committee kept one primary long-distance shooter, Rebecca Greenwell of Owensboro, Ky., who also demonstrated during the trials ample ability to create shots, penetrate, defend and distribute.
USA BASKETBALL U16 ROSTER
Recee' Caldwell, 5-8 PG (2014), San Antonio, Texas
Jordin Canada, 5-6 PG (2014), Los Angeles, Calif.
Kaela Davis, 6-2 G (2013), Suwanee, Ga.
Rebecca Greenwell, 6-1 G (2013), Owensboro, Ky.
Linnae Harper, 5-7 G (2013), Chicago, Ill.
Stephanie Mavunga, 6-3 F/C (2013), Indianapolis, Ind.
Erica McCall, 6-3 F (2013), Bakersfield, Calif.
Taya Reimer, 6-3 F (2013), Fishers, Ind.
Mercedes Russell, 6-5 P (2013), Springfield, Ore.
Jannah Tucker, 6-0 G (2013), Randallstown, Md.
Sydney Umeri, 6-1 F (2013), Acworth, Ga.
Jatarie White, 6-3 P (2014), Charlotte, N.C.
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Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A graduate of Seattle University and Columbia University, he formerly coached girls' club basketball, was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of an online sports network, authored a basketball book for kids, has had his photography displayed at the Smithsonian Institute, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The U16 national team to represent USA in the FIBA Americas U16 championships is a hard working group.