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Briann January, Courtney Vandersloot aim for 2016 Olympics in Rio

Indiana Fever guard Briann January (Lewis and Clark HS) will vie for one of 12 spots on the U.S. Olympic basketball team to compete in Rio this summer. (Jim Mone / AP)
Indiana Fever guard Briann January (Lewis and Clark HS) will vie for one of 12 spots on the U.S. Olympic basketball team to compete in Rio this summer. (Jim Mone / AP)

Courtney Vandersloot and Briann January will be reaching for gold this year.

Vandersloot, a star at Gonzaga, and January, a standout at Lewis & Clark High School, are finalists for this year’s United States Olympic team, USA Basketball announced Monday.

Vandersloot and January – both point guards – are among 25 players who will compete this spring for 12 spots on the national team that will play in the Summer Olympic Games on Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“I think the committee has a tough decision ahead of it,” said USA and Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, who led the national team to Olympic gold in 2012 and world FIBA titles in 2010 and 2014.

“There is a concerted effort to get as many guards into this training camp as possible,” Auriemma said.

The 5-foot-8 Vandersloot capped her college career in 2011 by leading the Gonzaga to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, the West Coast Conference Tournament and regular-season titles and a 31-5 record.

Vandersloot, 26, was also named the 2011 Nancy Lieberman Award winner as the top point guard in Division I after leading the nation in assists per game in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

She was the only women’s player in West Coast Conference history to be named the conference’s player of the year three times, and also the only player to be named MVP of the WCC Women’s Tournament three times.

The No. 3 selection by the Chicago Sky in the 2011 WNBA Draft, Vandersloot averaged a career-high 11.4 points and 5.8 assists last year for the Sky. She helped guide Chicago to their first playoff appearance in 2013, before reaching the WNBA Finals in 2014.

January, 29, had a breakout performance last summer in the WNBA Finals, in which her Indiana Fever lost to the Minnesota. However, she is coming off meniscus surgery and will be unable to participate in the Team USA training camp scheduled for Feb. 21-23 at the University of Connecticut.

The 5-foot-8 January led Lewis & Clark to a 25-3 record in 2005 before playing four years at Arizona State. In her final season as a Sun Devil, January set the school’s single-season record for 3-point field goals (65).

January also tied the school’s single-game record with seven 3-pointers in ASU’s win at UC Davis on December 3. After four seasons as a Sun Devil, January is the only player in school history to lead the team in steals and assists four straight years.

Last year, January averaged 8.8 points and 3.4 assists for the Fever.

Other guards chosen: Sue Bird, 35; Danielle Robinson, 26; Odyssey Sims, 23; Diana Taurasi, 33; Courtney Vandersloot, 26, and Lindsay Whalen, 33.

The final, 12-player 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team will be selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee.


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