Candace Parker invited to USA camp

Three players, including Lady Vol sophomore Candace Parker and former Lady Vol standout Michelle Snow, and Cappie Pondexter have accepted invitations to train with the 2006 USA Basketball Women's World Championship Team in hopes of securing one of the final two spots on the 12-member squad, USA Basketball announced today.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Yolanda Griffith (Sacramento Monarchs), who was named to the squad on Aug. 1, has withdrawn from the team. The USA's training camp tips-off Aug. 29 at Duke University (N.C.) and will conclude with a Sept. 7 clash against 2004 Olympic silver medalist Australia at Duke.

The 15th FIBA World Championship is scheduled to be played Sept. 12-23 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The player selections were made by the USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee, chaired by Reneé Brown, the WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations. In addition to Candace Parker, Pondexter, who plays for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, and Snow, who plays for the WNBA's Houston Comets, several players who will compete in the WNBA Finals are also under consideration for one of the final roster spots.

Already on the team is former Lady Vol All-American and Olympian Tamika Catchings.

The only collegiate player vying for a spot on the squad, Parker, who hails from Naperville, Illinois, has been on two previous USA Basketball teams, winning a gold medal at the 2004 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and assisting the 2006 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team to a 4-1 record and the Australia-hosted 2006 Opals World Challenge last April.

"I'm looking forward to this opportunity to train with some of the country's best female basketball players and learn from some of its best coaches. It would be an honor to represent America and I hope that I get the opportunity to do so," said Parker.

Named to the five-member All-Opals World Challenge Team along with USA teammate Tina Thompson, Parker not only paced the U.S. squad in scoring by a clip of 18.0 ppg, she ranked second among all competitors in the four-team field. She also shot 69.0 percent (40-58 FGs) from the floor to lead everyone in field goal percentage, while contributing a tournament second-best 8.4 rpg and dishing out 2.0 apg.

As a member of the 2004 USA Junior World Championship Qualifying Team that rolled to a 5-0 record en route to the gold medal, Parker started all five games and averaged team highs of 16.6 ppg, 4.8 apg and 2.4 bpg while posting and USA second bests of 8.8 rpg and 3.4 spg in just under 20 minutes of action per contest. Additionally, Parker dunked three times during the tournament.

During the 2005-06 season at Tennessee as a redshirt freshman, Parker aided the Lady Vols to a 31-5 record, the Southeastern Conference Tournament crown and the NCAA Elite Eight. She started all 36 games for UT and led the squad in scoring (17.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg), while adding a third best 2.9 apg.

Parker was listed as one of 30 midseason finalists for the 2006 Naismith Player of the Year Award and one of 18 finalists for the 2006 John R. Wooden Award, was named to the 2006 All-SEC first team by conference coaches and All-SEC second team by the Associated Press, earned 2006 SEC Rookie of the Year and 2006 SEC Tournament MVP honors. Further, Parker was selected a 2006 Kodak/WBCA All-Region 3 and a Kodak/WBCA All-America.

While at Tennessee from 1998-2002, Michelle Snow was a force in the middle for the Lady Vols. The 6'5 center played in 137 games and averaged 10.9 ppg and 6.5 rpg during her career. She was also noted for her three career dunks as a Lady Vol.

Snow participated in the 2006 USA Basketball Senior National Team's March 17-24 European Tour and started one of three games, while averaging 12.7 ppg and 7.3 rpg as the USA went 3-0. She also competed with the 2004 USA Senior National Team during its '04 European Tour, aided the U.S. to a 6-0 record against top professional and national teams, and averaged 5.8 ppg and grabbed a team-high (tie) 5.0 rpg.

She first played for USA Basketball as a member of the 2000 USA R. William Jones Cup Team that won the gold medal in Taiwan, and averaged 7.0 ppg and 5.3 rpg.

Snow has twice seen action on the other side of the court from a USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team. Following her senior season at the University of Tennessee, she was a member of the 2002 WBCA College All-Star Team that faced the 2002 USA National Team and grabbed five rebounds in the collegians' 100-59 loss. Prior to that, Snow collected four points and three rebounds in Tennessee's 65-64 upset win over the 1999-2000 USA Senior National Team - one of just two losses for that year's top U.S. squad.

Drafted No. 12 by the Houston Comets in 2002, Snow is a two-time WNBA All-Star, earning the honor in 2003 and again this past season. In 2003 she was named the league's Most Improved Player after upping her scoring from 3.9 ppg in 2002 to 9.2 ppg in 2003, while also improving from 3.7 rpg to 7.7 rpg. This past season Snow started all 34 games and averaged career-highs of 13.0 ppg. and 7.9 rpg., while aiding the Comets to an 18-16 record and the WNBA Playoffs.

The United States is looking to continue at the 2006 FIBA World Championship building upon the success it has experienced over the last decade in the international arena. Since the 1996 Olympic Games the USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team has posted five consecutive gold medals at the Olympics and FIBA World Championships.

Not only have the American women finished on the top of the podium, they have posted an unblemished 42-0 record, an unparalleled streak over the past decade among U.S. women's traditional team sports. Additionally, the United States is No. 1 in the world in every age group after also claiming gold at the 2005 FIBA U19 World Championship and 2003 FIBA U21 World Championship.

The 10 members of the 2006 USA World Championship Team include Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Alana Beard (Washington Mystics), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks), DeLisha Milton-Jones (Washington Mystics), Katie Smith (Detroit Shock), Sheryl Swoopes (Houston Comets), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and Tina Thompson (Houston Comets). The eventual 12-member team will be finalized prior to the squad departing for Brazil on Sept. 8.

The Anne Donovan-led U.S. squad will seek to defend its World Championship title at the 15th FIBA World Championship, scheduled to be played in Sao Paulo. Behind the play of 2002 FIBA World Championship MVP Leslie, as well as Bird, Catchings, Milton-Jones, Smith and Swoopes, the United States captured the ‘02 gold medal, successfully defending it's 1998 World Championship crown.

The U.S. owns a record seven gold medals, one silver and one bronze at the World Championship, while compiling an 80-20 (.800 winning percentage) record, including a 19-0 winning streak that dates back to the 1994 bronze medal game.

Donovan will be assisted on the sidelines by Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault and collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of Duke and Dawn Staley of Temple.

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