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Basketball - 21. May 2013.

USA - Stewart headlines U19 Women defending champions' roster

COLORADO SPRINGS (FIBA U19 World Championship for Women) - Three members of the 2011 gold medal winning USA team will again step out at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women this summer, with Breanna Stewart headlining the trio.

After making the All-Tournament Team in Puerto Montt, Chile two years ago, Stewart will be back for a sixth campaign with USA Basketball and she admitted she loves the challenge of competing for the podium.

"USA Basketball is the best thing about my summer," said the Connecticut star.

"That's what I look forward to, creating new experiences with new people. Sometimes they're with the same people, but it's just really fun.

"It's an honour. I appreciate everything USA Basketball has done for me in letting me keep coming back to try out again and again, and continuing to go for gold medals.

"I don't think there's anything else you can ask for."

Having been one of the youngest players in Chile last time out, Stewart confessed she is expecting to have to show more leadership qualities when she treads the hardwood in Lithuania.

"It's funny how my role is changing. This time I'm one of the older ones, and it's weird," she explained.

"But I have to be a leader because I've been in these situations before and some people haven't. I have to help show them the ropes."

Being one of the figureheads for USA Basketball at youth level also brings an added responsibility too, with Stewart aware of the need to maintain the highest standards both on and off the court to cement a proud history and tradition.

"Obviously you're going to play your heart out, you're going to leave everything on the court because this is 12 people who are considered at the top of high school and college basketball for their age group," she said.

"Teams are coming after us and they want to beat us. We have to know that every team is going to play us the best they can, and we need to just keep our composure.

"Off the court, you really have to represent the United States and show people in other countries who we are, create our own image of ourselves.

"We need to try to change their minds about the United States in a positive way."

There is also a little bit of history for Stewart and her fellow returnees, Morgan Tuck and Alexis Jones, since they are the only US athletes ever to repeat on an U19 roster.

The full roster is as follows: Alexis Jones (Duke), Breanna Stewart (Connecticut), Morgan Tuck (Connecticut), Candice Agee (Penn State) Bashaara Graves (Tennessee), Linnae Harper (Whitney Young High School), Moriah Jefferson (Connecticut), Brianna Turner (Manvel High School), Nia Coffey (Hopkins High School), Gabby Green (St Mary's College High School), Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day) and A’ja Wilson (Heathwood Hall High School).

It is a line-up which left head coach Katie Meier absolutely delighted and also satisfied all the relevant boxes had been ticked by the selection panel.

"I'm thrilled. The length is incredible, the talent, the diversity," she said.

"Everybody brings a little something different. That gives us a lot of choices as coaches in a lot of different ways that we can win basketball games.

"The committee put together what I think is the team that answers any type of a question.

"We have speed. We have quickness. We have size. We have shooters. They really made sure that they gave us every weapon."

The USA will be based in Panevezys in the Preliminary Round and face China, Lithuania and Mali in Group D.

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photos Janos Schmidt 

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