Caitlin Clark left the US Olympic team; A’Ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi headline

Shams Sarania, Joe Wharton, Mark Bouleau, Ben Pickman and Chantal Jennings

Indiana Fever debutant Kaitlyn Clark has been left off the 12-player USA Women’s Basketball roster for the upcoming Summer Olympics. USA Basketball announced the official roster on Tuesday.

The list prioritizes players by selecting A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Alyssa Thomas, Napheesa Collier, Jewell Lloyd, Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young, Sabrina Ionescu, Chelsea Gray and Kahleah Copper. The U.S. women have won gold in every Olympics since 1996, and this roster of illustrious All-Stars appears to be the favorite in Paris.

Seven of the 12 players have Olympic five-on-five experience, and two have 3×3 experience, so Thomas, Copper and Ionescu will be the only three first-time Olympians. Selected players recently began receiving their Team USA Olympic jerseys.

Committee Chair Jen Rizzotti said Athletic The past experience of the players was heavily considered.

“We need to provide a team with (Olympic coach) Cheryl (Reeve’s) experience and familiarity with international competition, familiarity with the coaching system, leadership skills, versatility, depth at every position,” Rizzotti said. “The 12 that we picked, we felt we were the best when it came to making basketball decisions.”

Taurasi, who will be 42 when the Games begin, will be competing in her sixth Olympics, breaking the all-time international record she holds with five athletes, men and women. His Phoenix Mercury teammate Griner has played in two previous Olympics.

Stewart, a two-time WNBA MVP and two-time Finals MVP, is competing in her third Olympics. In Tokyo in 2021, he averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game and was named the Most Valuable Player of the Olympics.

Wilson, another two-time WNBA MVP, averaged 16.5 points per game in her Olympic debut in Tokyo and is off to an impressive start this WNBA season, averaging 28 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.

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Sources briefed on the discussions said Clarke, Briona Jones and Aliyah Boston would be the replacements if one of the 12 was unable to play. Boston, Clark’s Fever teammate and last year’s WNBA Rookie of the Year, is another young talent who was notably left off the roster.

Clark is coming off a historic NCAA career at Iowa, where he became the Division I all-time leading scorer and won two National Player of the Year awards. On Friday, she hit seven 3-pointers and matched her WNBA career high with 30 points in a win over the Washington Mystics.

In March, Clark was one of 14 players to receive an invitation to the U.S. National Team’s final training camp ahead of the Summer Games. She was unable to attend because of a game with Iowa in the Final Four, while several players with years of service in the US national program were in attendance. The U.S. Women have held periodic training camps for national team hopefuls for years. While not mandatory, they go a long way in helping the selection committee decide which 12 will represent the most dominant basketball program — men’s or women’s.

The list was selected by a women’s basketball committee consisting of South Carolina coach and former All-American coach Don Staley, three-time Olympian and LSU assistant Simone Augustus, two-time Olympian and Old Dominion coach Delisha Milton-Jones, and Connecticut Sun President Jennifer. Rizzotti and WNBA president of league operations Bethany Donabin.

With four members of the Las Vegas Aces, this 2024 Olympic roster is reminiscent of the 2016 Olympic roster. In 2016, one-third of the team was Minnesota Lynx players — Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Augustus and Sylvia Foles — amid the franchise’s historic run of four WNBA titles in seven seasons. In the latest episode Athletic The women’s basketball show, Augustus, noted how adding more players from the same squad could benefit Team USA, which did not have much practice time together for its final 12 before the Olympics. The 2024 roster doesn’t really come together until the week before July’s All-Star Game.

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Is Clarke’s absence surprising?

No wonder he didn’t make the team. The reality is that the US women’s basketball team, which has won seven consecutive Olympic gold medals, is the strongest collection of basketball talent in the world. Many of them have played together in the WNBA or Olympic rotations. Clark, due to his collegiate season, never participated in a senior national team camp this cycle, perhaps creating some questions about how he will fit in on the court. The list goes on and on – note the four Aces players and three Mercury players in the list.

It’s also hard to imagine her slow start to the WNBA season didn’t affect the outcome. While Clark has enjoyed some highs — for example, on Friday night, when she became the first player in WNBA history with 200 points and 75 assists through her first 12 games — she leads the WNBA with 67 turnovers — 29 more than any other player. His 32.7 percent 3-point shooting clip is also lower than many expected. However, in delisting Clark, the Olympic Committee appears to be accepting lower television ratings than if Clark was on the team. – Ben Pickman, women’s basketball writer

The roster is skewed towards players with professional experience

Clark’s omission — and that of his Fever teammate Boston — was surprising given that the Olympic team consisted mostly of younger players who are unlikely to be major contributors in the short term but are viewed as the future of the program. Ionescu, 26, is not the youngest player this year.

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Of course, this year’s roster is loaded with talent. The 2028 Olympic roster will be the favorite to enter the 2028 Olympics as well. Even without Clark, Boston or Atlanta Dream guard Ryne Howard on this year’s roster, it’s not like America is behind the competition. Yet the selection committee’s list construction philosophy is remarkable. – Pickman

Can Clark still participate?

One of the unanswered questions is whether Gray will be available for the Olympics. She suffered a lower leg injury in Game 3 of the 2023 WNBA Finals and has yet to play this WNBA season. However, he participated in the U.S. Olympic training camp in Cleveland and, if healthy, will be the starting point guard. In theory, Clark could be a Gray or sub-in replacement if any other injuries occur before the Olympics. However, once action begins, Clark, Jones or Boston cannot participate if a player is injured during the match. – Pickman

Required reading

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated whether USA Basketball would name replacement teams for its women’s Olympic team. No official substitutes are made public in advance, although three players are considered substitutes in the event that one of the 12 players in the squad is unable to play.

(Photo: Stephen Gosling / NBAE via Getty Images)

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