Huskies past and present invited to USA training camp

It wasn’t a huge shock to see the names of Olympic gold medalists and former UConn stars Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and Diana Taurasi among the UConn products to accept invitations to the upcoming U.S. women’s national team training camp in Santa Barbara, Calif. However, the next wave of UConn greats also happen to be involved this time around.

UConn juniors Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, coming off All-American seasons, were two of the five active college players among the 30 players tentatively scheduled to be at the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 training camp.

While Collier and Samuelson will be newcomers to the national team process, they have combined for eight gold medals while representing USA Basketball.

Samuelson was the top scorer as the U.S. won the gold medal at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship. She was second on the team in scoring and had a team-high 18 3-pointers as the U.S. won the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.

Collier led the U.S. in rebounding and steals and was the second-leading scorer in the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship and was second on the gold-medal winning U.S. team at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 event in scoring and rebounding. Collier was also the leading scorer on the U.S. team that won the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and was joined on the squad by Samuelson.

They will join South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, Louisville’s Asia Durr and Kelsey Mitchell of Ohio State as players with remaining college eligibility taking part in the first training camp run by new U.S. national team coach Dawn Staley.

Collier and Samuelson competed in the U-23 training camp, although UConn’s planned tour of Italy kept them from being a part of the U.S. team that won the U-24 Four Nations tournament.

“I think it was really good for us to be out there with all those players, it is kind of a level of respect that you have,” Samuelson said recently about her time at the U-23 training camp. “It is fun to kind of play with people who you might have always played against because you get to know them off the court so it was a lot of fun and challenging.”

Stefanie Dolson, Tiffany Hayes, Kiah Stokes and Morgan Tuck have also accepted invitations meaning the 11 of the 30 players are current or former UConn stars.

The list of participants will be impacted by which WNBA teams advance on in the playoffs as 16 of the players are members of the six teams still in contention for the WNBA title. Players in the WNBA championship series won’t be able to be at the training camp so the list of attendees could be cut by as many as nine players.