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OU's Welch Invited to USA Basketball Trials
May 06, 2003

May 7, 2003

Colorado Springs, Colo. - - The University of Oklahoma guard Chelsi Welch is one of 60 top collegiate athletes that has accepted an invitation to the May 22-25 USA Basketball Women's National Team Trials, announced by USA Basketball this week. 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.

Included among the 60 invitees are 17 previous USA Basketball medalists, four others who have been named as a finalist to a USA Basketball squad and 10 more who have participated in USA Basketball Trials. Nineteen were listed as 2003 All-Americans by the Associated Press (A.P.), U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) and Kodak/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA); one was named NJCAA All-American, one was selected the NAIA Player of the Year, six earned conference Player of the Year honors, six were named Rookie of the Year or Newcomer of the Year by their respective conferences, and a total of 45 earned post-season conference honors across the country.

Welch 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). 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. 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 USA Trials, which will be held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., will be used to select a pair of 12-member 2003 USA Basketball Teams, including the USA World Championship For Young Women and USA Pan American Games squads. The USA Young Women's National Team, which will be comprised of athletes 21-years-old and younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1982), will compete in the inaugural FIBA World Championship For Young Women in Sibenik, Croatia, July 25 - Aug. 3; while the 2003 Pan American Games action is set to take place Aug. 2 - 9 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The Ohio State University's Jim Foster will serve as head coach for the 2003 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Women Team and collegiate head coaches, Kathy Delaney-Smith of Harvard University (Mass.) and Felisha Legette-Jack of Hofstra University (N.Y.) will assist Foster.

The USA Pan American Games Team will be piloted by University of Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan, with collegiate head coaches Kathi Bennett of Indiana University and Trina Patterson of the University at Albany (N.Y.) acting as assistants.

Invitations also went out to previous USA Basketball medalists and 2003 All-Americans Alana Beard (Duke / Shreveport, La.), Ebony Hoffman (Southern California / Harbor City, Calif.), Chandi Jones (Houston / Bay City, Texas), Nicole Ohlde (Kansas State / Clay Center, Kan.), Cappie Pondexter (Rutgers / Chicago, Ill.), Nicole Powell (Stanford / Phoenix, Ariz.), Stacy Stephens (Texas / Winnsboro, Texas), Iciss Tillis (Duke / Tulsa, Okla.) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota / Hutchinson, Minn.). Other invitees include: Seimone Augustus (LSU / Baton Rouge, La.); Mistie Bass (Duke / Janesville, Wis.); Jacqueline Batteast (Notre Dame / South Bend, Ind.); Jenni Benningfield (Vanderbilt / Louisville, Ky.); Tera Bjorklund (Colorado / St. Peter, Minn.); Steffanie Blackmon (Baylor / Dallas, Texas); Nikki Blue (UCLA / Bakersfield, Calif.); Kala Bowers (Texas / Woodward, Okla.); Natasha Brackett (Auburn / Charlotte, N.C.); Rebekkah Brunson (Georgetown / Oxon Hill, Md.); Jamie Carey (Texas / Thornton, Colo.); Danielle Cheesman (Brigham Young / Orem, Utah); Shameka Christon (Arkansas / Hot Springs, Ark.); Jessalyn Deveny (Boston College / Westford, Mass.); Heather Ernest (Maine / Farmington, Maine); Candace Futrell (Duquesne / Altoona, Pa.); Cherrise Graham (Virginia / Conshohocken, Pa.); Erin Grant (Texas Tech / Arlington, Texas); Vanessa Hayden (Florida / Orlando, Fla.); Jessica Henson (Union University / Bradford, Tenn.); Doneeka Hodges (Louisiana State / New Orleans, La.); Roneeka Hodges (#Louisiana State / New Orleans, La.); Amber Jacobs (Boston College / Clarks Summit, Pa.); Tamara James (Miami / Dania, Fla.); Temeka Johnson (Louisiana State / Kenner, La.); Valerie King (Cincinnati / Washington Court House, Ohio); Laurie Koehn (Kansas State / Hesston, Kan.); Courtney LaVere (Notre Dame / Ventura, Calif.); Kristen Mann (UC Santa Barbara / Santa Ana, Calif.); Caitlin Matter (Ohio State / Bluffton, Ohio); Janel McCarville (Minnesota / Stevens Point, Wis.); Giuliana Mendiola (Washington / Lake Forest, Calif.); Courtney Mix (Villanova / Perrysburg, Ohio); Loree Moore (Tennessee / Harbor City, Calif.); Natashia Morehead (Gulf Coast C.C. / Panama City, Fla.); Nina Norman (Texas / Houston, Texas); Amber Obaze (Louisiana Tech / Dallas, Texas); Shawntinice Polk (Arizona / Hanford, Calif.); Heather Schreiber (Texas / Windthorst, Texas); Ann Strother (Connecticut / Highlands Ranch, Colo.); Lindsay Taylor (UC Santa Barbara / Chandler, Ariz.); Christi Thomas (Georgia / Buford, Ga.); Lindsay Thomas (Colorado State / Sioux Falls, S.D.); Barbara Turner (Connecticut / Cleveland, Ohio); Ruby Vaden (Arkansas / Osceola, Ark.); Kendra Wecker (Kansas State / Marysville, Kan.); Chelsi Welch (Oklahoma / Plainview, Texas); Crystal White (Louisiana State / Mt. Clemens, Mich.); Kimberly Wilburn (Ohio State / Southfield, Mich.), Toccara Williams (Texas A&M / Hollywood, Fla.) and Tanisha Wright (Penn State / West Mifflin, Pa.).

Christon, Hoffman, Koehn, Obaze, Ohlde, Pondexter, Schreiber, Stephens and Whalen teamed up last summer to capture a gold medal in Brazil and helped the United States qualify for the 2003 FIBA World Championship For Young Women. The previous summer at the 2001 FIBA Junior World Championship, Beard, Bjorklund, Christon, Moore, Pondexter, Powell, Stephens and Strother were members of the U.S. squad that posted a 6-1 record, fell to host Czech Republic in the semifinal contest, but rebounded to return with the Junior Worlds bronze medal. Competing on her first of three USA Basketball squads, Pondexter, along with Beard, Hoffman, Jones, Koehn, Moore and Powell, collected the gold medal and a 5-0 record at the 2000 Junior World Championship Qualifying Tournament in Mexico. Further, at the 1998 World Youth Games in Moscow, Carey and Tillis were members of the U.S. team that earned the bronze medal with a 5-1 record after being defeated by host Russia in the semifinal contest. Additionally, Batteast, Blackmon, Hayden and Jacobs were named as finalists for the 2002 USA World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Team; while Augustus, Bass, Bowers, Doneeka Hodges, Johnson, McCarville, Mendiola, Christi Thomas, Wecker and Williams have all participated in at least one USA Basketball Trials.

All-Americans Beard, Ohlde, Wecker and Whalen were all selected to the 2003 USBWA All-America Team, with Augustus being named the USBWA Freshman of the Year. The A.P. named Beard and Ohlde to its 2003 All-America first team, Powell and Whalen were selected to the A.P. All-America second team, Augustus and Wecker were named to its third team and Benningfield, Hayden, James, Johnson, Jones, Mendiola, Polk, Pondexter, Taylor, Tillis and Wright collected 2003 A.P. All-America honorable mention accolades. Additionally, Beard, Ohlde, Powell, Tillis and Whalen were tabbed 2003 Kodak/WBCA All-America first team members; while receiving honorable mention by Kodak/WBCA were Augustus, Hoffman, James, Jones, Mendiola, Polk, Pondexter, Stephens, Taylor and Wecker.

The pair of non-NCAA Division I athletes, Henson and Morehead, earned their share of awards this season as Henson was named the 2003 NAIA Player of the Year by the WBCA and Morehead listed as a 2003 Kodak/WBCA NJCAA All-American.

The collection of talent at this year's Trials is also evident at the conference level where Beard (Atlantic Coast Conference), Ernest (America East Conference), Jones (Conference USA), Mendiola (Pacific 10 Conference), Ohlde (Big 12 Conference) and Taylor (Big West Conference) were named the Player of the Year in their respective leagues; while Carey was tabbed the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year; Deveny earned the Big East Conference Most Improved Player award; Wright was named the Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Year; Grant and Welch earned co-Freshman of the Year honors in the Big 12; and Augustus (Southeastern Conference), Polk (Pac-10) and Pondexter (Big East) both collected conference Freshman of the Year accolades.

Additionally, 22 were selected to their all-conference first teams, including Beard, Bjorklund (Big 12), Blue (Pac-10), Brunson (Big East), Ernest, Hoffman (Pac-10), Jones (Conference USA), King (Conference USA), Mann (Big West), McCarville (Big Ten media), Mendiola, Ohlde, Polk (Pac-10), Pondexter, Powell (Pac-10), Schreiber (Big 12), Stephens (Big 12), Taylor, Tillis (ACC), Wecker (Big 12), Whalen (Big Ten media and coaches) and Wright (Big Ten coaches). Fifteen were listed on all-conference second teams, including Augustus, Batteast (Big East), Benningfield (SEC), Blackmon (Big 12), Cheesman (Midwest Conference), Christon (SEC), Deveny, Graham (ACC), James (Big East), Matter (Big Ten media), McCarville (Big Ten coaches), Obaze (Western Athletic Conference), Christi Thomas (SEC), Williams (Big 12) and Wright (Big Ten media); while three were named to their all-conference third team, including Futrell (Atlantic 10 Conference), Matter (Big Ten coaches), Strother (Big East).

Further, four were named all-conference honorable mention, including Jacobs (Big East), Johnson (SEC), Mix (Big East) and Wilburn (Big Ten media) and 11 earned a spot on their respective conference's All-Rookie squad, including Augustus, Bass (ACC), Blue, James, LaVere (Big East), Polk, Pondexter, Strother, Turner (Big East), Veda (SEC) and Wilburn (Big Ten coaches).

Numerous invitees earned post-season tournament honors, including Beard and Strother, both of whom were named to the 2003 NCAA All-Final Four squad. Beard was also tabbed the NCAA Midwest Regional Most Outstanding Player and, along with Tillis, All-Midwest Regional; Turner earned All-East Regional honors; Mix was named to the All-Mideast Regional Team; and Texas' trio of Carey, Schreiber and Stephens each were named to the All-West Regional Team, while Schreiber's play earned her West Regional MOP accolades. Johnson, Powell, Taylor and Tillis were not only named to their respective 2003 conference all-tournament squads, they earned tournament MVP honors in the process. Joining the four on conference all-tournament teams were Augustus, Beard, Bjorklund, Blue, Cheesman, Christon, Ernest, Graham, James, King, Mann, Matter, Obaze, Polk, Pondexter, Schreiber, Stephens, Wilburn and Wright.

The USA Basketball Women's Collegiate Committee, in addition to Plonsky, is comprised of NAIA designee Stephanie Findley (head coach, Oklahoma Christian University); NCAA appointees Elaine Elliott (head coach, University of Utah), Gail Goestenkors (head coach, Duke University, N.C.), Donna Noonan (Vice President, Women's Basketball Championship, NCAA) and Willette White (head coach, Northeastern University, Mass.); representing the NJCAA is Mary Ellen Leicht (Assistant Executive Director, NJCAA); Muffet McGraw (head coach, University of Notre Dame, Ind.) was appointed by the WBCA; and Teresa Edwards (2000, 1996, 1992, 1988 and 1984 Olympian, 1994, 1990 and 1986 World Championship teams / Smyrna, Ga.) and Vickie Orr-Wiley (1992 Olympic bronze medalist, 1990 World Championship gold medalist / Birmingham, Ala.) are the athlete representatives.

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