From the recruiting to NCAA Tournament runs, there’s been a lot of good signs for North Carolina women’s basketball and Courtney Banghart in recent years. Another good sign that arose on Tuesday was the revelation that a Tar Heel will compete for a spot on the USA national team.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Carolina guard Deja Kelly has been invited to a training camp as Team USA decides their last couple spots for the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup, which is the continental championship for North and South America.
Eight members of the 12-person roster have already been decided at a previous training camp. Kelly was initially going to take part then too, but missed it due to injury. Now, she’s back to try and get one of the final four spots.
The Team USA roster for this tournament is made up entirely of college players, with the WNBA stars typically only play in the Olympics and the FIBA World Cups. Despite that, the roster is still set to be loaded with college stars, including the reigning NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player — LSU’s Angel Reese. Other notable players include Rickea Johnson of Tennessee and Charisma Osborne of UCLA. Aneesah Morrow — a 2022-23 All-American — is also one of the players competing for the final spots. The Team will be coached by Washington State’s Kamie Ethridge, with South Dakota State’s Aaron Johnston, and Cincinnati’s Katrina Merriweather as assistants.
The competition for those last couple spots should be stiff, but Kelly is definitely good enough to be up for the task. She led the Tar Heels in scoring last season at 16.5 points per game.
Should Kelly make the team, the tournament is set to be held in León, Mexico from July 1-9. the USA’s group opponents will be Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and Venezuela. There are two groups, from which the top four in each move into an eight-team tournament for the knockout stage. The US rolled to the tournament title in the last edition in 2021, going undefeated and beating Puerto Rico by 15 in the championship game. This year’s tournament will also double as part qualification process for the 2024 Olympics, although the US will not have to worry about that, as they’ve already qualified by way of winning the 2022 Basketball World Cup.
Representing a national team is always a nice piece of recognition, so best of luck to Deja in her attempts to make Team USA!