LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky women’s basketball sophomore guard Linnae Harper (pictured) will once again represent the United States for USA Basketball this time as one of the 12 members of the 2015 U.S. Pan American Women’s Basketball Team. Harper earned a spot on the roster after three days of trials that featured 51 athletes at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"It was a great feeling,” Harper said. “I was still nervous like it was any other trial, but it was a great feeling to get another chance to represent my country. I felt like I gave it my all. I played really well, but it was still going to be tough because everybody here is good. Everybody here is the best from their university, so I still had that feeling in the back of my head of 'what if', but I am beyond grateful to be here."
Harper, a native of Chicago, is no stranger to USA Basketball as she is one of seven players on the squad who have at least one gold medal, winning one as a member of the 2012 USA U17 World Championship team and also with the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship Team. She was named to the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship All-Tournament Team after averaging 7.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. She also was awarded an honorary bronze medal in the inaugural 2011 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship.
Along with Harper, the returning gold medalists include: Moriah Jefferson (Connecticut/Glenn Heights, Texas); Stephanie Mavunga (North Carolina/Brownsburg, Ind.); Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina/Charlotte, N.C.); Kelsey Plum (Washington/Poway, Calif.); Taya Reimer (Notre Dame/Fishers, Ind.); and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut/North Syracuse, N.Y.).
Playing on their first USA Basketball team will be: Sophie Brunner (Arizona State/Freeport, Ill.); Alaina Coates (South Carolina/Irmo, S.C.); Caroline Coyer (Villanova/Oak Hill, Va.); Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (Maryland/Aliquippa, Pa.); and Courtney Williams (Texas A&M/Houston, Texas).
The University of Iowa’s Lisa Bluder will lead the 2015 U.S. Pan American Women’s Basketball Team, along with assistant coaches Michelle Clark-Heard of Western Kentucky University and Scott Rueck of Oregon State University.
Harper had an impressive sophomore season for the Wildcats as she was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Defensive Team after leading the team in rebounding (7.1) and steals (2.0) per game. She ranked third on the team in scoring with 11.4 points per game. Harper, at just 5-foot-8, became the shortest player to lead UK in rebounding in school history and was the only player in the nation to stand at 5-8 or under and average more than 7.0 rpg. She also is the first guard in UK Hoops history to grab a team-high rebounding mark since Stacey Reed in 1994-95. All seven of Harper’s career double-doubles came this season, including four in SEC play. She also excelled in the classroom as she was a member of the SEC Winter Sports Academic Honor Roll.
Players eligible for the U.S. Pan American Games Team must be U.S. citizens who currently are enrolled as full-time college students with remaining eligibility for the 2015-16 school year.
The U.S. Pan American Women's Basketball Team players and coaches will return to Colorado on July 3 for the start of training camp and will depart for the competition in Toronto, Canada, on July 8. The 2015 Pan American Games women's basketball competition will take place July 16-20.
The USA women have been placed into Group A and will take on Brazil on July 16, Dominican Republic on July 17 and Puerto Rico on July 18 in the preliminary round. Competing in Group B will be Argentina, Canada, Cuba and Venezuela.
The top two teams from each preliminary-round group will advance to the medal-round semifinals on July 19, while the third and fourth-placed teams will for fifth-eighth places. The semifinal winners will compete for the gold medal on July 20, while the semifinal losers will play for bronze.
Garrett Ellwood/USA Basketball Photo