Central Arkansas Christian’s Christyn Williams will stamp another country on her passport this summer after being named last month to the United States team for the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women.
Williams, 17, who led the USA team to a bronze medal in the FIBA U17 World Championship last summer in Spain, is the youngest of the 12 players on the U19 roster, having turned 17 on May 20, a day before the roster was announced.
She will join her U19 teammates in Cividale del Friuli and Udine, Italy, July 22-30, a few weeks after the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup, which started on Wednesday and runs until Sunday, July 2 in Chengdu, China.
“She gets to travel the world a little more, play in more games, play great competition,” CAC coach Steve Quattlebaum said. “That will just make her better, which makes us better.”
According to USA Basketball, USA women’s teams are 73-12 in U19/Junior World Cup competitions, having won their sixth consecutive gold medal in the previous competition in 2015, when the Americans went 7-0.
Williams was not satisfied with the bronze last summer after a 6-1 U17 record. In an interview with USA Basketball following the roster announcement, she said this team represented a second chance for her.
“That is great, because bronze hurt my heart,” she said. “So for us to go out and work to get gold, that will be great.”
Thirty-two athletes participated in trials in May at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee chose the team, which includes seven returning USA Basketball gold medalists.
The roster also includes Bella Alarie of Bethesda, Md.; Jeannie Bochum of Winnetka, Ill.; Chennedy Carter of Arlington, Texas; Crystal Dangerfield of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Tasha Harris of Noblesville, Ind.; Ruth Hebard of Fairbanks, Alaska; Joyner Holmes of Cedar Hill, Texas; Kayla Overbeck of Newbury Park, Calif.; Reili Richardson of Brea, Calif.; Alecia Sutton of St. Louis; and Megan Walker of Chesterfield, Va.
Williams, a rising senior at Mustang Mountain, is one of three high school players on the team. The college players represent UConn, Princeton, Harvard, South Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Vanderbilt and Arizona State.
USA U19 and University of Pittsburgh head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said she was excited to coach the squad.
“Watching these players through the trials, there were so many great players here, and this is a special team,” she told USA Basketball. “The committee put together a team we feel very confident in, in their skill set, in the energy that they will bring in representing the United States and the pride they will have in doing so.”
In the interview with USA Basketball, Williams was asked what she was trying to show as her strengths during the trials.
“I tried to demonstrate that I was very coachable, a great teammate and I’m a scorer, because that’s my game,” she said. “I think I was pretty consistent the whole trials.”
Team USA will return to Colorado Springs on July 7 for training camp and will leave for Italy on July 15. The Americans will compete July 17-19 in a four-team exhibition tournament against Italy, Latvia and Spain before opening U19 World Cup action against Mali on July 22. Preliminary play will continue against China on July 23 and host Italy on July 25.
Other teams competing are Australia, Canada, Egypt, France, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Korea and Spain.
According to USA basketball, teams will be seeded according to group play after the preliminary round before advancing to the round of 16 on July 26. Winners will advance to the medal quarterfinals July 28. Semifinals are set for July 29, with the gold- and bronze-medal games scheduled for July 30.
Williams told USA Basketball making the U19 team meant the world to her.
“This is a great birthday present,” she said. “Considering I’m the youngest player here, it’s a huge honor to be selected to this team.”
On the day the roster was announced the day after she turned 17, she tweeted: “The best birthday present ever … wow.”
While in China …
According to FIBA.com, for the 3x3 U18 World Cup this week in China, Williams and teammates Destiny Littleton, Janelle Bailey and Aquila DeCosta are seeded in Pool A with Australia, Hungary, Japan and Switzerland.
Team USA won the event in 2012 and ‘13 as well as the 3x3 tournament at the ‘14 Youth Olympic Games and finished runner-up to France in 2015 and ‘16.