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UConn commit Bueckers makes U19 World Cup roster, Griffin not selected

May 19, 2019

UConn commit Paige Bueckers was one of 12 players selected for the U19 World Cup roster, which was announced by USA Basketball Sunday afternoon.

The World Cup is scheduled for July 20-28 in Thailand, where the U.S. will be in search of an eighth gold medal.

Bueckers, a 5-foot-11 point guard from Minnesota, already owns three golds, having won at the U16 and U17 levels, as well as the Youth Olympic Games in 3x3. The consensus No. 1 player in the Class of 2020, Bueckers committed to UConn last month.

Joining Bueckers on the team, which is coached by Louisville’s Jeff Walz, are Francesca Belibi, Aliyah Boston, Cameron Brink, Caitlin Clark, Queen Egbo, Naz Hillmon-Baker, Rhyne Howard, Jordan Nixon, NaLyssa Smith, Celeste Taylor and Hailey Van Lith. Left off the roster was Aubrey Griffin, a 6-1 wing from New York who will be a freshman at UConn this fall.

“These are the best players in the country,” Jennifer Rizzotti, chairperson of the women’s junior national team committee, said on the USA Basketball website. “There’s a great level of diversity, experience and age. You have college kids that have the experience of being coached by a college coach, but you have a lot of really young players that have a lot of USA Basketball experience. As a committee, we try to find not just 12 of the best players but the best mix of players that we can give to Jeff and his staff to help them win a gold medal.”

Bueckers, 17, said Friday that she was relishing the opportunity to compete alongside players of different ages at the trials in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“I’m working against older girls, so just knowing that I’m going to be playing against these girls in a couple years at college, I’m just finding out my strengths and weaknesses,” Bueckers said by phone. “Learning a lot and building relationships here is really cool.”

The team will be back in Colorado to train from July 5-10 before departing for Tokyo for a scrimmage against Japan’s U19 National Team. They’re scheduled to begin preliminary play on July 20 against Australia in Thailand. The U.S. is currently No. 1 in FIBA’s world youth rankings.

“I’m really impressed with all the young women who came out here to be a part of the trials,” Walz said. “And now that we’re down to 12, I’m looking forward to getting to know them before we come back here on July 5 to start practice.”

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour

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