Harding accepts invite to U.S. women's player pool

Duke guard Lindsey Harding has accepted an invitation to join the 2007-08 USA women's senior national team pool, USA Basketball said Tuesday.

The inclusion of Harding brings the U.S. pool for international competitions in the next two years to 22 players.

"There are so many players on the team that I've watched as I was growing up. I was just shocked, I was excited, it's like a dream come true. This is something I've always wanted to so since I started playing basketball," Harding said in a release issued by USA Basketball.

Harding, a 5-foot-8 senior guard from Houston, has led Duke to two ACC tournament titles, two Final Fours and last year's national championship game.

"Her play this year, her leadership abilities and the success she's had in leading Duke this season really stood out in the Committee's eyes," said committee chair and WNBA chief of basketball operations ReneƩ Brown. "In 2006, while we had plenty of versatile players who could play the point, we only had one true point guard on the team. We felt that Lindsey is someone who could really make a difference for us in the years ahead and we needed to get her into the mix."

The U.S. women's team is scheduled to tour Italy April 7-19, with a game against the Italian National Team, a pair of professional teams and a final game against a regional all-star squad.

The USA's next chance to qualify for the 2008 Olympics will be at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, Sept. 25-29 in Valdivia, Chile. The gold medalist at that tournament will earn a berth to the Beijing Games' 12-nation field. Should the United States not return home from Chile with the gold medal, there will be one final chance to qualify for the Olympics, at the 2008 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.