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Dawn Staley to coach women's U18 national team

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South Carolina coach Dawn Staley will coach the U.S. women's under-18 team at the FIBA Americas championships this summer.

Staley, who won three Olympic gold medals playing for the U.S. national team, also coached the U.S. to a gold at the 2007 Pan American Games.

''I appreciate every opportunity I have to work with USA Basketball, an organization that I've worked with for almost half of my life,'' Staley said. ''I'm honored to be chosen and look forward to a different experience working with such a young group of athletes but in an organization I'm very familiar with.''

She will be assisted by Louisville coach Jeff Walz and Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico.

''We've had some preliminary meet-and-greets over text messaging, but I look forward to working with both of them,'' Staley said of her coaching staff. ''I think both will have program insight that will ultimately help us win the gold medal.''

Staley is also a candidate to be an assistant coach for the U.S. national team which plays in the World Championship this summer. She could potentially do both coaching roles.

Both assistant coaches will get their first USA Basketball coaching experience.

''It's something I've wanted to do for years,'' Walz said. ''I wasn't sure how to get involved, but am so glad I am now. It's an opportunity to work with some great people.''

Like Walz, Barnes Arico was excited for a chance to represent the U.S.

''It has always been a dream of mine to be involved with USA Basketball and represent our country,'' Barnes Arico said. ''It is one of the highest honors you can achieve in any sport. To get an opportunity to be surrounded by the best players and coaches in the game is exciting. I am thrilled to be teaming up with two of the brightest minds in the business.''

If the U.S. finishes in the top four teams in the tournament this summer the Americans will qualify for next year's U19 World Championship.

Staley is having a stellar season at South Carolina, leading the Gamecocks to a 25-2 mark. They've already clinched a share of the program's first Southeastern Conference regular season title and can win the league outright on Thursday.

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