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USA Basketball Reveals Why Caitlin Clark Won’t Be At 2024 Olympics


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USA Basketball is speaking up about the decision to leave Caitlin Clark off the roster for 5x5 women’s basketball.

Jen Rizzotti, the chair of the team's selection committee, told the Associated Press in an interview published June 11 that Caitlin’s inexperience led the committee to leave her off the team. (Caitlin made her WNBA debut in May.) She added that it would be "irresponsible" to consider anything other than Caitlin's impact on the court.

Earlier that day, the organization confirmed the 12 players that would represent the country in 5x5 women’s basketball. To the shock of many, Caitlin's name was missing.

The 22-year-old, who shattered the record for the all-time leading scorer in college basketball this year, is credited, in part, for bringing new life and a rabid fan base to the sport.

The news caused a social media frenzy, with many decrying the Fever guard's absence from the roster.

"Rant incoming. - leaving Caitlin Clark off the women's Olympic team is the dumbest sh*t I've ever heard," Dave Portnoy tweeted. "How dare you make this decision. It's stupid," NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith added.

So, why isn't Caitlin Clark on the women’s basketball Olympic team? Below, here's the rationale behind the decision and who is on the roster.

Why is Caitlin Clark not on the 2024 Olympic basketball team?

There’s a lot of chatter about this online, but selection committee chair Jen Rizzotti has shut down speculation on the topic.

“There were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes,” Jen told the Associated Press in an interview published June 11. “It comes down to position, style of play for [head coach Cheryl Reeve] and then sometimes a vote.”

Jen said the committee simply evaluated the team they were creating, not fan reaction.

"As much as you want to maybe make conversation around how we should have considered TV viewership or jersey sales or popularity, that wasn’t the purview of the committee to have those discussions,” Jen explained in a further interview with USA Today. “The selection criteria were made very clear to us. Eventually, we had to block out some of that outside noise."

Caitlin has been prone to turnovers and has struggled at times to deal with how physical the WNBA can be, according to CBS Sports. There are also more experienced guards ahead of her. (No rookies made the team this year.)

Diana Taurasi, a five-time Olympic gold medalist who did make Team USA this year, urged fans to calm down about the decision. By not making the roster this year, Diana said she'll become a better player.

"The game of basketball is all about evolving. It's all about getting comfortable with your surroundings," she told USA Today on June 11. "College basketball is much different than the WNBA than it is overseas. Each one almost is like a different dance you have to learn."

"Once you learn the steps and the rhythm and you have a skill set that is superior to everyone else, everything else will fall into place," she continued.

And there is still a chance that Caitlin could be headed to Paris this summer: She's reportedly a top alternate for the team alongside the Connecticut Sun’s Brionna Jones, per CBS. This means if any of the 12 players selected are injured, or cannot play for any other reason, Caitlin could potentially be called to the court.

Who is on the Olympic basketball team?

That said, Team USA is stacked with talented women. Those include:

  • Napheesa Collier, a 27-year-old forward on the Minnesota Lynx who went to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, per Olympics.com.

  • Kahleah Copper, a 29-year-old guard for the Phoenix Mercury. This will be her first time at the Olympics.

  • Chelsea Gray is a 31-year-old guard for the Las Vegas Aces. She went to the 2020 Olympics, but has not played in an WNBA game since last season due to a leg injury.

  • Brittney Griner, a 33-year-old center for the Phoenix Mercury. Brittney won gold medals with Team USA at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, but made international headlines following her 11-month detainment in Russia. Brittney said the only way she’ll leave the United States again is to compete in the Olympics, according to Olympics.com. “If I make that team, that’d be the only time I would leave the U.S. soil, and that’s just to represent the USA,” she shared.

  • Sabrina Ionescu is a 26-year-old guard for the New York Liberty. This will be her first time at the Olympics.

  • Jewell Loyd is a 30-year-old guard for the Seattle Storm. She is returning to the Olympic games after being on Team USA in 2020.

  • Kelsey Plum is a 29-year-old guard for the Las Vegas Aces. This will be her first time at the Olympics.

  • Breanna Stewart is a 29-year-old forward for the New York Liberty. She went to the Olympics with Team USA in 2020 and 2016.

  • Diana Taurasi is a 42-year-old guard for the Phoenix Mercury. She is a veteran of Team USA, and winning gold medals at the Olympic Games in 2020, 2016, 2012, 2008 and 2004.

  • Alyssa Thomas is a 32-year-old forward for the Connecticut Sun. This will be her first time at the Olympics.

  • A’ja Wilson is a 27-year-old center for the Las Vegas Aces. She returns to the Olympics after being on Team USA in 2020.

  • Jackie Young is a 26-year-old guard for the Las Vegas Aces. She won a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics playing 3x3, but this will be her first time playing 5x5 at the Games.

Who picks the Olympic basketball team?

The USA Olympic basketball team is selected by a committee. That group includes South Carolina coach (and former Olympian) Dawn Staley, LSU assistant coach Seimone Augustus, Old Dominion coach Delisha Milton-Jones, Connecticut Sun president Jennifer Rizzotti, and WNBA head of league operations Bethany Donaphin, NBC Chicago says.

11 criteria were used to determine who would be on this year’s roster, according to the selection committee, USA Today reports. Those included U.S. citizenship, availability, position, playing ability, versatility to play other positions, coachability, attitude, adaptability to team concept, leadership, adaptability to international game, and likelihood of contributing to success of team.

What did Caitlin say about not being selected for the Olympic basketball team?

Caitlin has been super positive about being left off the roster—and optimistic about the future.

“I think it gives you something to work for. It’s a dream,” Caitlin said after a recent practice, per CNN. “Hopefully one day I can be there and I think it’s just a little more motivation. You remember that and, you know, hopefully in four years, when four years comes back around…I can be there.”

Christie Sides, Caitlin’s Indiana Fever coach, says the former Hawkeye is letting the decision fuel her.

"The thing she said was, 'Hey, Coach, they woke a monster,' which I thought was awesome," she told reporters on June 9, per NBC. "She's young, she's going to have so many opportunities in the future."

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