International Basketball

USA Basketball Concludes Three-day Mini Cap at UConn


STORRS — Following a three-day mini-camp at UConn, USA Basketball coach Geno Auriemma said all 17 of those seeking a spot on the 2016 Olympic team belong.

“No one looked bad,” he said. “It’s always hard to throw guys together for a couple of days. Some have a tremendous amount of experience; others are new. We wanted to see if they were healthy, if guys we really thought were good were good. The newer ones have work to do,” he said.

Among those with international basketball experience is Elena Della Donne, who would be in her first Olympic games if she makes the team, but averaged a second best 13.8 points a game during the national team’s 2015 European tour.


Photo is Courtesy of USA Basketball

The 2013 University of Delaware graduate also participated on junior national teams while in college.

A 6-5 swing player, Delle Donne led her WNBA team, the Chicago Skye to a 21-13 2015 record and the Eastern Conference semi-finals and in 2014 to the WNBA finals. Among the most versatile players on the court, (she handles four positions with ease), she has consistently earned all-league honors since her rookie season, 2013, although illness and injury have frequently interrupted her career.

Delle Donne said she’s used to playing with these elite players from professional and world experience and national team mini-camps.

“It’s always great to get together in the gym and playing with these guys,” she said following Tuesday’s final day of practice.

“These are the best players in the world. Offensively we’re pretty closely matched. The coach is looking for the best 12 who can work together. I’m just trying to be a great team player and show some other intangibles.”

She said playing on the Olympic team has been a goal of hers since she first picked up a basketball. “When you have a chance to play for the USA, there’s no better feeling in the world.”

Unlike so many WNBA players, Delle Donne has not played in Europe during the off-season, preferring to run youth clinics in the U.S. during the winter.

She is also involved in a number of organizations for those with mental and physical disabilities, a tribute to her older sister, Lizzie, who is deaf and blind and has cerebral palsy.

According to USA Basketball notes, she has a tattoo of angel wings with her sister inside of them.

“It keeps me grounded and anytime I’m going through a struggle, it’s a reminder that anything I’m going through is nothing compared to what my sister has been through. It helps me keep my prospective.”

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