(Reuters) - The heavily-favored U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team will have a lethal mix of talent, experience and youth, according to the list of 21 players competing for selection to the London Games, USA Basketball said on Monday.
Nine Olympic gold medalists, the entire roster of the 2010 world champions and a collegiate phenom are among the finalists vying for spots on a roster that is seeking a fifth consecutive gold medal at the July 27-August 12 London Games.
“It’s the perfect combination,” head coach Geno Auriemma of the University of Connecticut said on a conference call. “We are not too old, not too young.”
Two-time Olympic gold medallists Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi headline the candidates.
The three, winners at the 2004 and 2008 Games, are joined by 2004 Olympic champion Swin Cash and 2008 fellow gold medallists Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, Kara Lawson, Candace Parker and Cappie Pondexter, USA Basketball said on Monday.
The final 12-member roster will be announced by May.
All but one of the 21 women play in the professional Women’s National Basketball Association.
Baylor University center Brittney Griner is seeking to become the first college player to make a U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team since 1988.
“She brings an element to any team that’s impossible to find,” Auriemma said of the 6-foot-8 center. “You don’t find players who are game changers like that. I don’t think anybody else in the world has anyone like Brittney Griner.”
Other finalists are: Jayne Appel, Rebekkah Brunson, Tina Charles, Candice Dupree, Lindsey Harding, Asjha Jones, Angel McCoughtry, Renee Montgomery, Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Sophia Young.
Reporting By Gene Cherry in Salvo North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue