May 7, 2002

NORMAN, Okla. - The University of Oklahoma freshman Dionnah Jackson has been invited to try out for the 2002 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Team, USA Basketball announced today. She is among the top 35 who have accepted invitations as the country's top 20-and-unders players. The invitations were issued by the USA Basketball Women's Collegiate Committee, chaired by University of Texas Senior Associate Athletics Director for Men's and Women's Athletics Chris Plonsky. On May 20 following the three-day Trials, which will be held May 17-19 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., the Committee will announce finalists for the U.S. squad.

Jackson was OU's sixth player this past season who averaged 7.3 points and 4.7 rebounds while playing 25.8 minutes per game. She also was one of only six to play in all 36 games including OU's six NCAA Tournament contests. The St. Louis, Mo., native was voted OU's Most Improved Player after beng named to the All-Big 12 Tournament team. She averaged 12.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in Big 12 Tournament action. She also had a team-high three blocked shots and shot a stellar 66.7 percent from the field over the three game span.

Jackson is one of nine Big 12 Conference players invited to the tryouts.

The eventual 12-member U.S. team, which will be comprised of U.S. citizens 20-years-old or younger (born on or after January 1, 1982), will compete in the Confederation of Pan American Basketball Associations (COPABA) World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Tournament. Hosted by Brazil in Ribeirao Preto July 17-21 and featuring eight teams from North, South and Central America as well as the Caribbean, the top three nations will qualify for the inaugural International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Championship For Young Women which is scheduled to be played in Dubrovnik, Croatia in July 2003 (dates TBD).

USA team training will kick off on July 7 in Colorado Springs and run through July 11 (times TBD). Following the July 7-11 training camp, during which will time the final 12-member 2002 USA 20-and-under squad will be named, the U.S. is scheduled to continue its training July 12-20 in Brazil prior to the start of the 2002 COPABA Qualifying Tournament.

Included among the invitees are: Jacqueline Batteast (Notre Dame / South Bend, Ind.); Tera Bjorklund (Colorado / St. Peter, Minn.); Betsy Boardman (Arizona State / Portland, Ore.); Teresa Borton (Notre Dame / Yakima, Wash.); Kala Bowers (Texas / Woodward, Okla.); Kara Brown-Braxton (Georgia / Jackson, Mich.); Shameka Christon (Arkansas / Hot Springs, Ark.); Ebony Felder (Georgia / Jackson, Miss.); Cisti Greenwalt (Texas Tech / Clovis, N.M.); Vanessa Hayden (Florida / Orlando, Fla.); SeSe Helm (Kentucky / Bowling Green, Ky.); Doneeka Hodges (Louisiana State / New Orleans, La.); Ebony Hoffman (Southern California / Harbor City, Calif.); Sandora Irvin (Texas Christian / Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.); Dionnah Jackson (Oklahoma / St. Louis, Mo.); Amber Jacobs (Boston College / Clarks Summit, Pa.); Temeka Johnson (Louisiana State / New Orleans, La.); Laurie Koehn (Kansas State / Hesston, Kan.); Kelly Mazzante (Penn State / Montoursville, Pa.); Julie McBride (Syracuse / Mechanicville, N.Y.); Janel McCarville (Minnesota / Stevens Point, Wis.); Kristen O'Neill (Washington / Lynwood, Wash.); Amber Obaze (Louisiana Tech / Dallas, Texas ); Ugo Oha (George Washington / Houston, Texas ); Nicole Ohlde (Kansas State / Clay Center, Kan.); Jia Perkins (Texas Tech / Granbury, Texas ); Cappie Pondexter (Rutgers / Chicago, Ill.); Heather Schreiber (Texas / Windthorst, Texas ); Stacy Stephens (Texas / Winnsboro, Texas ); University of Connecticut freshman-to-be Ann Strother (Highlands Ranch H.S. / Highlands Ranch, Colo.); Kelley Suminski (Stanford / Chester, N.J.); Brandi Teamer (Virginia / Joliet, Ill.); Christi Thomas (Georgia / Buford, Ga.); Tanesheia Thompson (Gulf Coast Community College / Roanoke, Ala.); Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota / Hutchinson, Minn.) and Dee-Dee Wheeler (Arizona / Chicago, Ill.).

All told, there are 34 NCAA Division I players, including 20 rising juniors and 14 rising sophomores, one NJCAA athlete and one who has recently completed her prep career; 19 previous USA Basketball participants; six 2002 All-Americans; six 2002 conference Freshman of the Year honorees; one 2002 conference Player of the Year and a total of 25 who were listed among their 2002 all-conference or all-freshmen teams.

Returning to USA Basketball after helping the U.S. capture a bronze medal at the 2001 FIBA Junior World Championship are Bjorklund, Christon, Pondexter, Stephens and Strother; while Hoffman, Koehn and Pondexter were members of the gold medal winning 2000 USA Junior World Championship Qualifying Team. In all, 19 athletes have had USA Basketball experience. Boardman (2001), Borton (2001), Bowers (2000), Brown-Braxton (2000), Hayden (2000, 2001), Hodges (2000), Irvin (2001), Jacobs (2001), Mazzante (2000, 2001), Obaze (2000, 2001) and Oha (2001) have participated in at least one USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Trials and Felder was among the trials invitees for the 1998 USA World Youth Games Team.

Mazzante and Whalen top the list of 2002 All-American selections as both were named 2002 U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) All-Americans. Additionally, Mazzante and Whalen listed as Associated Press All-American second and third team honorees, respectively; while Mazzante earned 2002 Kodak/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-America status. Named as the 2002 USBWA National Freshman of the Year was Batteast, who was also a 2002 Kodak/WBCA All-America honorable mention. Rounding out the list of 2002 Kodak/WBCA All-America honorable mentions are Hayden, Ohlde, Obaze and Whalen.

Six made an impact as a rookie among their respective conferences in 2001-02 and were ultimately tabbed as their conference Freshman of the Year, including Batteast (Big East), Brown-Braxton (Southeastern) McCarville (Big Ten), Schreiber (Big 12), Teamer (Atlantic Coast) and Wheeler (Pacific-10); while Felder (Southeastern), Irvin (Conference USA), O'Neill (Pacific-10) and Suminski (Pacific-10) were named to their conference's All-Rookie teams.

Whalen, the 2002 Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, is one of 21 trials participants who earned all-conference honors. Seven listed among their all-conference first teams, including Brown-Braxton (Southeastern), Hayden (Southeastern), Hoffman (Pacific 10), Mazzante (Big Ten), Oha (Atlantic 10), Ohlde (Big 12) and Whalen. Ten of the invitees were named all-conference second team, including Batteast (Big East), Christon (Southeastern), Helm (Southeastern), Hodges (Southeastern), McCarville (Big Ten), Obaze (Western Athletic), Perkins (Big 12), Stephens (Big 12), Teamer (Atlantic Coast) and Thomas (Southeastern); while Irvin (Conference USA), Koehn (Big 12) and McBride (Big East) were named to their respective all-conference third team and Schreiber was a 2002 All-Big 12 honorable mention.

Jackson, who earned Big 12 All-Tournament Team honors after averaging 12.0 ppg., 7.0 rpg. and 3.7 apg. in helping lead OU to the Big 12 Tournament title, will not attend the Trials but has applied for a medical waiver to still be considered among the finalists. She had arthroscopic surgery on April 18 to remove an osteochondral defect in her right knee, and is expected to be fully recovered within eight weeks following surgery.

The elder of the two non-NCAA Division I players, Thompson helped Gulf Coast Community College (Fla.) to a third place finish in the 2002 NJCAA Tournament, earning All-NJCAA Tournament Team honors in the process. She also collected All-Panhandle Conference, All-State and All-Region VIII Tournament Team accolades. Strother, the lone high school player on the Trials roster, earned 2002 National High School Player of the Year honors by no less than Naismith, USA Today, Parade Magazine and the WBCA.

Texas Tech University head coach Marsha Sharp will direct the 2002 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Team. Her assistants are collegiate head coaches Nikita Lowry of New Mexico State University and Lisa Stone of Drake University (Iowa).

In addition to Plonsky, the USA Basketball Women's Collegiate Committee is comprised of NCAA appointees Gail Goestenkors (Duke), Donna Noonan (Vice President, NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship) and Willette White (Northeastern); NAIA appointee Stephanie Findley (Oklahoma Christian); NJCAA appointee Mary Ellen Leicht (Assistant Executive Director, NJCAA); WBCA appointee Muffet McGraw (Notre Dame); and athlete representatives Teresa Edwards, a five-time Olympian, and 1992 Olympian Vickie Orr-Wiley.