Norman, Okla. Oklahoma sophomore guard Chelsi Welch has been selected to the World University/Big 12 All-Stars team that will represent the United States at the 22nd World University Games in Daegu, South Korea, Aug. 20-31, 2003. Welch, the 2003 Big 12 co-Freshman of the Year, was one of 60 top collegiate athletes that spent a week in May trying out for the USA Womens Basketball National Team in Colorado Springs.
Twelve student-athletes from nine schools will represent the Big 12 at the World University Games. Three schools elected not to send a representative due to conflicts with other USA Basketball competitions, foreign tours and class schedules. Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly will serve as head coach of the squad. He will be assisted by Cindy Stein, head coach at Missouri and Latoya Harris, assistant coach at Iowa State.
"Its a complete honor to be invited to participate on this team," said Welch. "The Big 12 has some of the top players in the country and to be considered among them is a tremendous honor. Im excited about the opportunity for me to work on my game and to gain international playing experience. I look forward to competing against the best players in the world and having fun."
The World University Games, held every two years and organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU), is a multi-sport competition open to men and women between the ages of 17 and 28 (born between Jan. 1, 1973 and Dec. 31, 1985) and who are, or have been within the past year, a student at a college or university. The 2005 World University Games are scheduled to be played in Imir, Turkey.
"Chelsi has been given a very special and unique opportunity to both represent the University of Oklahoma and the Big XII Conference while also representing our country," said Coale. "We are proud of her and excited about the opportunity she will have to learn and improve through this experience."
The 5-9 guard ranked second on the team in scoring with 12.1 points per game but topped the squad with 14.2 ppg in Big 12 action as a freshman. The second team All-Big 12 selection also averaged 3.7 rebounds per game and shot 80.0 percent from the free throw line, 35.3 percent from the field and 30.1 percent from the three-point line. The Plainview, Texas, native assisted OU to its fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance with an overall record of 19-13 and a fifth-place finish in the Big 12 Conference (9-7).
Welch also became OUs third womens basketball player to ever earn freshmen All-American honors when she was named to the womencollegehoops.com Freshmen All-American honorable mention team. Former Sooner greats LaNeishea Caufield (1999) and Mandy Miller (1984) also earned this recognition.
This summer marks the third overseas opportunity for the Big 12 women. Before the World University games, the 2001 all-stars warmed up with games in Austria, Germany and the Slovak Republic. Back in 1999, the womens squad traveled through Finland and Sweden and lost just one game. That all-stars team featured former Sooner great Phylesha Whaley, OUs all-time leading scorer.
A total of nine players from Big 12 Conference schools have competed in past World University Games, including Colorados Jenny Roulier (2001) and Lisa Van Goor (1981); Kansas Lynette Woodard (1979); Kansas States Laurie Miller (1977); Oklahomas Caton Hill (2001); Texas Kamie Ethridge (1985), Andrea Lloyd (1985), Annette Smith (1983) and Beverly Williams (1987).
Hill helped the US win the gold medal in the 2001 World University Games in Beijing, China. She played in all eight games and averaged 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds, while firing a near perfect effort from the free throw line (12-of-13).