Linnae Harper is mining for more gold this week.
The University of Kentucky guard, having already pocketed three gold medals against international competition, will be seeking No. 4 when she leads the United States women's basketball team in the Pan American Games at Toronto.
Harper, who averaged 11.4 points and 7.1 rebounds a game as a sophomore at UK last season, is one of seven players on the squad with Team USA experience. The others are North Carolina's Stephanie Mavunga, South Carolina's Tiffany Mitchell, Washington's Kelsey Plum, Notre Dame's Taya Reimer and Connecticut's Moriah Jefferson and Breanna Stewart.
"Overall, it is really exciting just to see that we had multiple opportunities, and now to see how we've grown a lot from our younger days when we were 16 and 17," Harper said in an interview with USA Basketball. "It is just an amazing opportunity. They are great teammates. I'm just happy to be able to play with them again."
Team USA, seeking its first Pan American Games gold medal since 2007, opens play Thursday against Brazil at 9 p.m.
Every U.S. game will be televised on ESPN2.
Harper won a gold medal at the 2013 Women's U19 World Championships. She averaged 8.4 points, 5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2 steals in the undefeated Americans' nine games.
Harper also won gold medals as a member of the 2012 USA U17 World Championship team and the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship team.
Representing the United States for the first time will be Arizona State's Sophie Brunner, South Carolina's Alaina Coates, Villlanova's Caroline Coyer, Maryland's Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Texas A&M's Courtney Williams.
The U.S. team trained at Colorado Springs, Colo., from July 3 to 9, and is now settled into the Pan American Games athletes village with an estimated 6,000 competitors from throughout the Americas.
The team has scrimmaged Brazil, Argentina and Canada since arriving in Toronto.
"I think we have made a lot of progress," Harper said. "I think as the scrimmages go on, we are getting better, we are playing harder, we are just finding ways to win, because when the 16th comes, we need to be ready.
"I think we need these friendly games to see how the style is, because it is different from playing in the States. It is more competitive. We can get used to the rules. FIBA rules are different than how they are in the NCAA."
Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder leads the squad, with assistant coaches Michelle Clark-Heard of Western Kentucky and Scott Rueck of Oregon State.
Harper said the 12 U.S. players have taken advantage of their limited down time to sightsee in Toronto and to bond.
"I think that makes it better on the court, when we are trying to stay focused and be able to stay on the same page for a common goal," Harper said. "I think we understand each other, just trying to find ways to lift each other up, play as a team and do whatever it takes. And to be able to work with the coaches — they are not our typical coaches that we are used to, so we also have to adjust to them and their style. It's different, but it is a great opportunity."
The U.S. continues group play Friday against the Dominican Republic at 9 p.m. and Saturday against Puerto Rico at 9 p.m.
The semifinals are Sunday and the gold-medal game is Monday.
"We have put in so much work since July 3, doing whatever we can to get ready," Harper said. "Now that it is almost time, it is an indescribable feeling. We are ready. Our coaching staff has been doing a great job of helping us get ready, and we can't wait to play."