With defending gold-medalist Russia failing to qualify, the U.S. will be the top team at the U19 Women’s FIBA World Cup.
To get the gold medal in Bangkok, Thailand, the U.S. will play Hungary, Australia and South Korea in group play and then will enter tournament play. Australia will provide an early test for the U.S., but China and Mali are other teams which could compete with the U.S.
After being knocked off by Russia at the 2017 U19 World Cup, the U.S. should be the favorite heading into the competition. FIBA has started a fan poll asking which team fans think have a shot at beating the Americans.
Rhyne Howard was the MVP of the FIBA U18 Americas Championship in 2018 for the U.S. and then was named the SEC Freshman of the Year at Kentucky.
At Kentucky, Howard averaged 16.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Wildcats. As the previous MVP of FIBA Americas, Howard will provide valuable scoring punch and rebounding ability.
Another player to watch at the World Cup is Fran Belibi, who is only 17 years old going into the cup. A Stanford commit, Belibi has incredible leaping ability and is only the second female to ever win the McDonald’s All-American Dunk Contest.
Iowa State's Ashley Joens was also named to the roster after originally being an alternate. Joens averaged 10.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists at the FIBA Americas in 2018 while also being a captain on the team.
Jaz Shelley averaged 10.6 points, 3.6 assists and 1.1 rebounds at the 2017 World Cup and will be playing at Oregon next season. Shelley has experience beating the U.S., and was a part of an Australian team that knocked off the U.S. at the 2016 U17 World Cup in the semifinals en route to the Aussies capturing a gold medal.
During the game against the U.S., Shelley had 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Shelley will be joined by Miela Goodchild, who made 73 3-pointers at Duke, which is the eighth most of any freshman in ACC history. She shot 44.5% from three and averaged 10.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
China was the top team at the 2018 U18 FIBA Asian Women’s Championship and also has the tournament's MVP, Yuan Li.
Yuan is a veteran of the World Cup and averaged 11.3 points, 5.3 assists and 2.6 rebounds at the 2017 World Cup.
Mali has won seven of the last eight FIBA U18 African Women’s Championship and did so again in 2018 with Assetou Sissoko as the MVP. At the tournament, Sissoko averaged 22 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists.
Mali also has Aminata Sangare, who averaged 12.6 points, 13.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists at the 2018 U17 World Cup.