Wednesday, June 19, 2024

USA Basketball selection chair addresses Caitlin Clark’s Olympics roster snub

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USA Basketball had some tough questions to answer this week following the release of Team USA’s 5-on-5 roster for this summer’s Paris Olympics. Many fans of the sport are wondering how the organization could have decided to leave WNBA No. 1 pick Caitlin Clark off the team after the former Hawkeyes star’s sensational rise.

According to Selection committee chair Jen Rizzotti, the choice was a simple one based on the criteria used to evaluate potential Olympians. Some believe that USA Basketball has a requirement to make the roster as marketable as possible, which would undoubtedly mean including Clark, however, Rizzotti and the committee disagree.

“When you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes,” Rizzotti told The Associated Press this week. “Then sometimes it comes down to position, style of play for [coach Cheryl Reeve] and then sometimes a vote.”

“It would be irresponsible for us to talk about her in a way other than how she would impact the play of the team,” she added. “Because it wasn’t the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the U.S. It was our purview to create the best team we could for Cheryl.”

Team USA roster features three Olympic first-timers

The team’s roster features many returners from the Tokyo Olympics, including Diana Taurasi, Breanna Stewart, A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, Naphessa Collier, Jewell Loyd and Brittney Griner. Accompanying the gold medalists are newcomers Alyssa Thomas, Sabrina Ionescu and Kahleah Copper.

Team USA 3×3 gold medal winners Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young round out the squad. Though Thomas, Ionescu and Copper are making their first Olympics team, they made the Team USA roster for the World Cup in Australia in 2022 and won.

None of the players on this summer’s roster for Paris are under the age of 25, but Rizzotti insisted age was not a factor in the criteria. Clark, who is just 22 years old, will have many more opportunities to qualify for the Olympic Games.

“I think it just gives you something to work for,” Clark said on Sunday. “It’s a dream. Hopefully one day I can be there. I think it’s just a little more motivation. You remember that. Hopefully when four years comes back around, I can be there.”

USA Basketball wants Clark to be a part of Olympics consideration in the future, as CEO Jim Tooley said this week.

“She’s certainly going to continue to get better and better,” Tooley said. “Really hope that she’s a big part of our future going forward.”

Final rosters, including alternates, for all teams have a finalization deadline of July 26. July 26th is also the day of the Opening Ceremony in Paris.

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