8-17-2017 – Corona – Former Santiago High student, Monique Billings, was named to the USA U23 National team! Congratulations Monique! We wish you the best of luck!

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Article by: UCLABruins.com: Billings and Canada Named to USA U23 National Team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The 12-member roster for the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U23 National Team was unveiled after five days of training camp at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The USA U23 National Team, which was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, includes eight USA Basketball gold medalists.

A pair of Bruin seniors, Monique Billings (Corona, Calif.) and Jordin Canada (Los Angeles, Calif.), were both named to the squad. UCLA and Tennessee were the only two schools with more than one selection and Billings and Canada were two of four players selected from the Pac-12 Conference.

“To say that I’m proud of Monique and Jordin would be a huge understatement,” UCLA Head Coach Cori Close said. “They constantly were seeking growth opportunities and proactively sought out instruction and coaching. They were fierce competitors in every possession of every scrimmage and practice. I was grinning the whole time watching them compete. They earned this opportunity and will represent the USA exceptionally well on and off the court.”

Also named to the team were: Ariel Atkins (Texas/Duncanville, Texas); Kalani Brown (Baylor/Slidell, La.); Asia Durr (Louisville/ Douglasville, Ga.); Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon/Walnut Creek, Calif.); Brittany McPhee (Stanford/Normandy Park, Wash.); Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State/Cincinnati, Ohio); Jamie Nared (Tennessee/Portland, Ore.); Arike Ogunbowale (Notre Dame/Milwaukee, Wis.); Mercedes Russell (Tennessee/Springfield, Ore.); and A’ja Wilson (South Carolina/Hopkins, S.C.).

“We were very impressed during training camp,” said Jennifer Rizzotti, chair of the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee and head coach at George Washington University. “It was an impressive list to begin with, but to see how hard they competed and how important it was for them to be here – nobody took the week off, nobody didn’t put in maximum effort, and that is what made the committee’s job so hard.”

The USA U23 squad will play in the inaugural U23 Four Nations Tournament Aug. 12-15 at Katayanagi Arena in Tokyo, Japan. The team will continue training at the USOTC through Aug. 7 before departing for Tokyo. Athletes eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens who are 23 years old or younger and currently are freshmen, sophomores or juniors in college.

“We are very excited to get working,” said Jeff Walz, USA U23 and University of Louisville head coach. “There is a lot of individual talent that now as a coaching staff we are going to have to put together and figure out different combinations of how we play to their strengths.”

Courtney Banghart of Princeton University and Michelle Clark-Heard of Western Kentucky University are the USA assistant coaches.

With four gold medals, Ogunbowale owns the most gold in the group. She earned top finishes at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games (3×3), the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship, the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and the 2013 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Championship, and she also earned a silver medal at the 2015 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Championship.

Russell and Wilson each have won three gold medals. Wilson was a member of the gold-medal winning 2013 and 2015 USA U19 World Championship teams and 2014 USA U18 National Team. Russell won gold medals at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and the 2015 World University Games.

Canada won gold at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and 2015 World University Games, and Durr and Ionescu finished in the top place at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship.

“I’m very blessed and grateful for this opportunity and I’m ready to get after it,” Canada said, heading into the team’s first official practice this afternoon.

“I am truly thankful to be here and ready to do whatever is necessary and work hard for my team,” Billings added.

Atkins owns a gold medal from the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, and Brown won gold at the 2016 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.

In the 2017 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, Wilson, who won a 2017 NCAA title, was the Final Four Most Outstanding Player and was named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team and to the Stockton Region All-Tournament Team. Canada and Ionescu earned Bridgeport Region All-Tournament honors; Brown was a member of the Oklahoma City Region All-Tournament Team; and McPhee and Ogunbowale were members of the Lexington Region All-Tournament Team.

The WBCA honored Brown and Wilson as All-Americans. Wilson listed on the Associated Press All-America first team; while Mitchell was second team member; and honorable mentions included Brown, Canada, Durr and Russell. The USBWA named Mitchell and Wilson as All-Americans.

Mitchell (Big Ten Conference) and Wilson (Southeastern Conference) were conference players of the year and first-team selections, while Ionescu (Pacific-12 Conference) earned freshman of the year and all-freshman team recognition. Canada (Pac-12) was named as defensive player of the year, and also named to all-defensive teams were Atkins (Big 12), Billings (Pac-12), Brown (Big 12) and Wilson (SEC).  All-conference first team members included Atkins (Big 12), Billings (Pac-12), Brown (Big 12), Canada (Pac-12), Durr (ACC), Ionescu (Pac-12), McPhee (Pac-12) and Williams (AAC). Russell (SEC) and Nared were all-conference second team.

The USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by Rizzotti, also includes 2008 Olympic gold medalist Kara Lawson Barling as the athlete representative, and NCAA representatives Karen Aston of University of Texas, Tonya Cardoza of Temple University and Wes Moore of North Carolina State.

2017 U23 Four Nations Tournament

The 2017 U23 Four Nations Tournament, which will include the USA, Australia, Canada and Japan, will be a round-robin tournament played Aug. 12-15 in at Katayanagi Arena in Tokyo.

The 2017 U23 Four Nations Tournament will provide meaningful competition and development opportunities. The USA’s participation in the tournament is intended to help further develop the USA Basketball athlete pipeline and to help prepare athletes for possible future participation in the USA Basketball Women’s National Team pool.

The USA will play Australia on Aug. 12, Canada on Aug. 13 and host Japan on Aug. 15.

CNUSD Public Relations

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