Matthew Mitchell on Rhyne Howard: ‘She has a whole lot of talent’
The 16-team tournament takes place Saturday through July 28 in Bangkok, starting with group play and wrapping up with single-elimination quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
The United States plays its opening game at 1:15 a.m. EDT Saturday (12:15 p.m. in Thailand) against Australia.
Other teams in Team USA’s group are Korea and Hungary.
The rest of the field includes Argentina, Belgium, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, Japan, Latvia, Mali, Mozambique, Spain and Thailand.
“Everybody’s excited to get started,” said University of Louisville head coach Jeff Walz, who is guiding Team USA. “You can go through training camp, you can go through practice and I think everybody’s ready to play someone else. Even though we’ve had some scrimmages, it’s still not the same. Tomorrow should be a really good basketball game.”
The team trained for two weeks in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Tokyo leading up to the tournament.
Joining Kentucky’s Howard on Team USA’s roster are Fran Belibi (Stanford), Aliyah Boston (South Carolina), Cameron Brink (Stanford commit), Paige Bueckers (UConn commit), Ashley Joens (Iowa State), Caitlin Clark (undeclared), Queen Egbo (Baylor), Naz Hillmon-Baker (Michigan), Diamond Miller (Maryland), Celeste Taylor (Texas) and Hailey Van Lith (undeclared).
Team USA is 79-13 all-time in the U19 World Cup, which dates to 1985, and has won six consecutive gold medals.
The 6-foot-2 Howard was named national freshman of the year in 2018-19 by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. She was also named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year by the league’s coaches and SEC Newcomer of the Year by media who cover the league.
“It was an honor to be recognized for all the hard work I put in. It was a great feeling,” Howard told USA Basketball recently. “And it inspired me to do better next year and even after that.”
Howard averaged 16.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in helping lead the Wildcats to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Last summer, Howard led a Team USA squad to the FIBA Americas U18 Championship gold medal in Mexico City and was named tournament MVP.
“What Rhyne brings to the table is experience,” Walz told USA Basketball. “She’s a player who was an integral part of the U18 team last year. She understands what international basketball is all about. Obviously, we all know the U19 World Cup is a bigger stage with tougher competition. But, with the experience she had with the U18s and then the year she had with Kentucky this past year, earning SEC Freshman of the Year, I think she’s plenty prepared for this.”