Two Tennessee Lady Vols will see the world this summer courtesy of USA Basketball.
Point guard Ariel Massengale left for Colorado Springs on Tuesday to begin practicing with the U.S. World University Games team. The Games are July 8-15 in Kazan, Russia.
Forward Bashaara Graves, meanwhile, will play for the U19 team in the World Championship for Women July 18-28 in Panevezys, Lithuania. She leaves for Colorado Springs on Monday to begin practice. The team will play a warm-up tournament in the Canary Islands July 12-14 before heading for Lithuania.
“I’m really excited and looking forward to it,” Massengale said in a UT release. “Just being able to represent your country and play the game you love and being able to compete with some of the best players in the world.”
The 5-foot-6 junior has played on three U.S. teams that won gold medals in international events. In 2011, she averaged 7.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game and made the five-player All-FIBA U19 World Championship team.
With seven guards on the U.S. World University roster, Massengale will be in a tough battle for playing time. The group includes standouts such as Baylor’s Odyssey Sims, Bria Hartley of Connecticut and Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel. Massengale scored one point in the Oklahoma City Regional final on April 2 and was totally eclipsed by Schimmel, who scored 24 points in leading Louisville to an 86-78 victory.
UT coach Holly Warlick said Massengale has “worked hard in the offseason.” The U.S. team practices alone ought to be a good gauge of whether or not the work is paying dividends.
“I’m going to learn a lot from my teammates and coaches and just bring that experience back,” Massengale said. “It will help me bring some leadership to my teammates here at Tennessee.”
Like Massengale, Graves also has played on three U.S. teams that brought home gold. The 6-2 sophomore played on the U18 national team last summer, averaging 7.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in the FIBA Americas Championship. She followed up by earning SEC freshman of the year honors this past season.
“I’m excited to play on the USA team again,” Graves said in the release. “Getting the opportunity to play for your country is always awesome.”
Graves will be playing for the same U.S. coaches as last summer. The staff includes LSU coach Nikki Caldwell, a former Lady Vol player and assistant.
“Bashaara is a product of hard, hard work,” Warlick said. “Bashaara has earned that position and I think she’ll do a great job.”