Geno Auriemma is no longer the coach of the United States national team, but the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's present and past is well represented on the 2017-20 Team USA pool that was announced by USA Basketball on Thursday.
Junior All-Americans Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier are among the 29 players in the pool from which the 2018 USA World Cup Team is expected to be selected. Also named were eight former Huskies' stars: four-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, two-time Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles and Maya Moore, fellow 2016 Olympic gold medalist Breanna Stewart and her UConn classmate Morgan Tuck, Stefanie Dolson, and Tiffany Hayes.
Available members of the pool will participate in a minicamp Feb. 9-11, 2018, at the University of South Carolina. Collier and Samuelson will not attend as UConn entertains American Athletic Conference newcomer Wichita State at the XL Center on Feb. 10, and hosts former Big East and AAC rival Louisville on Feb. 12 at Gampel Pavilion.
"I'm incredibly pleased with the pool of players and the different experiences that they bring to the team," USA and University of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. "I'm looking forward to putting my stamp on this training camp because it's new, it's different. Yet, you can give the 29 members of the pool anything to run and they're going to make you look good. We just have to get together to form some chemistry. Many of us have been together and worked together, just not in this capacity. So anytime we can get the USA national team together and work for a few days, it's only going to benefit us in the long run."
The national team selection committee is chaired by national team director Carol Callan. Other selection committee members are three-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Katie Smith, Connecticut Sun coach and general manager Curt Miller, and Los Angeles Sparks general manager Penny Toler. Auriemma, who coached USA teams to gold medals at the past two Olympics and FIBA World Cups, serves as a special advisor.
Collier and Samuelson, who have been part of the USA Basketball system since high school, attended a national team camp last fall before the start of the Huskies' season.
In eight games this season, Collier is averaging 14.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.5 steals for the top-ranked Huskies (8-0). The St. Charles, Missouri, resident was a consensus first-team All-American as a sophomore and was the AAC Co-Player of the Year.
Samuelson has missed four games this season with a left foot sprain but is averaging a team-high 17.8 points and 3.8 rebounds. The Huntington Beach, California, native was also a consensus first-team All-American as a sophomore and shared the AAC Player of the Year honor with Collier.
Other collegians in the pool are Louisville junior Asia Durr, Ohio State senior Kelsey Mitchell, and South Carolina senior A'ja Wilson.
The only member of the 2016 Olympic team not in the pool is Tamika Catchings, who retired last year. The WNBA players in the pool are Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Bird (Seattle Storm), Charles (New York Liberty), Layshia Clarendon (Atlanta Dream), Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics), Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings), Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Hayes (Atlanta), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles), Jewell Loyd (Seattle), Kayla McBride (Las Vegas Aces), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta), Moore (Minnesota), Chiney Ogwumike (Connecticut), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas), Odyssey Sims (Los Angeles), Stewart (Seattle), Taurasi (Phoenix), Tuck (Connecticut), Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota), and Courtney Williams (Connecticut).
The 2018 FIBA World Cup will be held Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain. The United States clinched its spot in the event by winning the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Former UConn standout Carla Berube -- now the coach at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts -- has been named a co-recipient of the 2017 USA Basketball Developmental Coach of the Year Award.
In her first USA Basketball coaching assignment, Berube led the United States U-16 national team to a 5-0 record and the gold medal at the 2017 FIBA Americas U-16 Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The result also qualified Team USA for the 2018 FIBA U-17 World Cup.
The 1997 UConn graduate shares the honor with U-16 men's coach Don Showalter.
"It's an incredible honor to be recognized by USA Basketball," Berube said. "This award is the result of the hard working, talented and driven group that I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by this past spring. I couldn't have dreamed up a better coaching staff than Steve Gomez and Vanessa Nygaard. The student-athletes that the committee selected for the team bought into the USA Basketball culture and worked extremely hard to become a cohesive unit both on and off the court."
Under Berube's guidance, the Americans led the tournament in 14 statistical categories including points per game (91.8), scoring defense (38.0), field goal percentage (41.5), rebounding margin (plus-21.8), blocked shots (8.2), assists (19.4) and steals (20.4).
Aliyah Boston, a forward from Worcester, Massachusetts, was named the event's Most Valuable Player.
"What made Coach Berube a great coach in my opinion was her love for the game," Boston said. "When she coached us, it was clear she really knew what she was saying, and she just wanted us to get better. In the end for her, it was not just about us winning gold as a team but that each of us individually became stronger and better players. She was very approachable and easy to learn from."
Berube is expected to coach the 2017 U-17 team. Trials for the 12-player roster will be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in late May.