Maryland senior forward Alyssa Thomas, inarguably one of the most dominant women’s basketball players in the country, was selected to the 33-player USA Basketball national team pool on Monday, one of 33 awarded the honor. This puts Thomas, projected to be among the top picks in the 2014 WNBA Draft this April, in contention for the 2014 world championships and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“I think all athletes want to win a world championship or play in the Olympics, so this is definitely one of my many dreams,” Thomas said in a press release. “As players, we all want to be the best we can and the best in the world, so I just want to keep working like I always have and hopefully those things will happen.”
Five other college players made the pool: Connecticut’s Stefanie Dolson, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart, Kayla McBride of Notre Dame and Odyssey Sims of Baylor. Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma also guides the national team.
According to the release, the pool is fluid, with players added and subtracted “at any time.” For the sixth-ranked Terrapins, Thomas averages 17.4 points and an ACC-high 11 rebounds per game, and her 13 double-doubles lead the country.
Only one college player, Baylor’s Brittney Griner, now with the Phoenix Mercury, was on the roster for the 2012 Olympics in London. Griner is among the WNBA players in the current pool, along with perennial all-stars like Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings, Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker and Maya Moore. No other former Terps made the list.
“I think the game has changed tremendously and we are fortunate that the pool is probably greater than it’s ever been,” Auriemma said in the release.” The gap between those that have won gold medals and those that are still playing for the USA Basketball National Team and those that want to be part of it who are younger and have made a name for themselves is narrowing every year. I’m excited that we have so many great players to choose from.”
The 2014 world championships will be held this September and November in Turkey. If the United States qualifies there — the country has won gold in the past five Olympic games, so that’ll happen — next up is the 2016 Summer Games from Aug. 5-21. Training camp and exhibition games will be mixed in between.