USA Basketball announced the pool of players from which they will draw the U.S. National Team to compete at the FIFA World Championships later this year and, if the U.S. qualifies, the Olympics in 2016. As one might expect, the initial list of 33 players reads like a who's who of women's basketball and it includes Maryland's Alyssa Thomas.
The players are: Jayne Appel (Stanford 2010); Seimone Augustus (LSU 2006); Sue Bird (Connecticut 2002); DeWanna Bonner (Auburn 2009); Tamika Catchings (Tennessee 2001); Tina Charles (Connecticut 2010); Elena Della Donne (Delaware 2013); Stephanie Dolson (Connecticut); Candice Dupree (Temple 2006); Sylvia Fowles (LSU 2008); L:indsey Harding (Duke 2007); Briann January (Arizona State 2009); Glory Johnson (Tennessee 2012); Kara Lawson (Tennessee 2003); Kayla McBride (Notre Dame); Angel McCoughtry (Louisville 2007); Maya Moore (Connecticut 2011); Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Connecticut); Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford 2013); Cappie Pondexter (Rutgers 2006); Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma 2011); Odyssey Sims (Baylor); Breanna Stewart (Connecticut); Alyssa Thomas (Maryland); Courtney Vandersloot (Gonzaga 2011); Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota 2004); Monica Wright (Virginia 2010); Sophia Young (Baylor 2006).
No, I didn't list all the players to reach the 150 word minimum. (Pete will tell you that's never a problem for me.) I published the list principally for the six names in bold face type. Those are the only players still in college. Thus, simply including Thomas in this group speaks to her talent and the respect she earned after attending USA Basketball's mini-camp in Las Vegas in October.
Asked about what it means to her, the senior replied, "It's almost unbelievable to be included in this group. It was amazing to be invited to try out and play with these players, let alone be with them for the next few years. I just want to keep working hard and help the USA continue to be the best in the world."
Thomas currently leads Maryland in scoring (17.4 points per game) and rebounding (11.0 per game. She's third on the team in assists. The two time ACC Player of the Year has registered eleven double-doubles and two triple doubles thus far this season for the sixth ranked Terps. She recently pulled down the 1,000th rebound of her career becoming only the fifth Terrapin - man or woman - to achieve that milestone. She is currently Maryland women's basketball's fourth all time scorer and only is forty-eight points shy of reaching 2,000 points for her career. With only nine assists she will move into the Terps' top ten in that category as well.
There are a few other random bits to notice. Three of the college players are currently on Connecticut's roster and only one of them (Dolson) is a senior. Notably missing from the list is Chiney Ogwumike, Nekka's younger sister and considered by many to be a national Player of the Year candidate. Also, in addition to Thomas, there's another Brenda Frese connection. Lindsay Whalen played for Frese when she was the head coach at Minnesota.
Asked about her prospects for making the team, Thomas said, "I think all athletes want to win a world championship or play in the Olympics, so this is definitely one of my many dreams. As players, we all want to be the best we can and the best in the world, so I just want to keep working like I always have and hopefully those things will happen." Though, Thomas is exceptionally competitive and it's never wise to count her out, Coach Gino Auriemma only has room on the final roster for twelve players. Given the depth of experience of the players this will likely be the first step in a process for Thomas to achieve one of her "many dreams."