COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – University of Arkansas freshman guard Ceira Ricketts is one of 14 players selected by USA Basketball as a finalists for the 2009 U19 national women’s basketball team.
Ricketts was at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., the past three days as one of 27 under-19 players participating in the team tryouts. The 5-9 point guard will return for the USA Basketball U19 team camp on July 9 to begin training for the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship.
“We are so very proud of Ceira,” Arkansas Razorback women’s basketball head coach Tom Collen said. “There are few things more important than representing your country on the world stage, and she is one step closer to making that dream come true.”
The 12-player team selected after training camp will participate in the Bangkok, Thailand, hosted world championships. Ricketts is one of eight college freshmen selected for the team.
The atlete selections were made by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by NCAA representative Sue Donohoe who serves as the NCAA’s Vice President for Division I Women’s Basketball.
“The competition level was very high,” said Donohoe. “You had tremendous talent out on the floor. It was a fun trials to just sit and watch the quality play of these young women. If there was anything surprising at all it was the intensity level that these young women kept throughout the trials.”
Ricketts injured her knee during the trials, and had to sit out one day to rest.
“I was kind of worried about it because I had to sit out one day for my knee (injury), but I came back, played hard and it paid off,” Ricketts said. “I think I came out and played even harder than I usually do just because I had to sit out that one day. I thought that one day would actually kill my chances. I had to come out and push myself to do more.”
Ricketts becomes the second Razorback women’s basketball player to advance to the U19 team trials. Former Razorback All-American and current WNBA standout Shameka Christon participated on the U19 team between her freshman and sophomore seasons at Arkansas.
The news of Ricketts’ pick caps a week of big announcements for the Razorback basketball team. On Friday and Saturday, Collen released the names of his most recent signees for the upcoming season, bringing the 2009 recruiting class to five players.
The Southeastern Conference is well represented in the 14 players chosen for the team camp. The league’s Co-Freshmen of the Year, Ricketts and LSU’s LaSondra Barrett, join two incoming freshmen, Tennessee’s Taber Spani and South Carolina’s Kelsey Bone, to give the SEC four players, the most in the final 14. The Big East and Pac-10 had three players each.
“I thought the trials went really well, each session got better and better,” said USA U19 National Team and University of Northern Illinois head coach Carol Owens. “I’m excited about our team. I think our strength will be our transition game, in particular our posts I think will be very good.”
The 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship features 16 national teams comprised of athletes 19-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1990) that qualified through their FIBA zone tournaments. The 16 teams have been drawn into four preliminary round pools of four teams each. The U.S. has been placed in Group D with China, Mali and Spain. Group A features Argentina, Australia, France and South Korea; Group B includes Brazil, Czech Republic, Lithuania and Thailand; while Group C includes Canada, Japan, Russia and Tunisia.
The United States is slated to open preliminary round play against Spain on July 23, followed by China on July 24 and Mali on July 25. The top three finishing teams in each preliminary round group will advance to the July 27-29 second round.
USA Basketball contributed to this story