COLUMBIA (FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018) - Dawn Staley has received a string of glowing endorsements after she was chosen to guide the USA into next year's FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup and then an anticipated place at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
A three-time Olympian herself during an illustrious playing career, which resulted in her being entered into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012, the play-caller will pick up the reins from Geno Auriemma in a promotion from her previous role as an assistant coach.
"As a player, I was humbled each time I wore the uniform and this feels no different. I will do my very best to uphold the standards and winning tradition of the national team, and must thank the selection committee for having faith in my abilities as a coach to trust me with such an important role.
"I would also like to thank my teams at Temple and South Carolina for putting me in this coveted position. They allowed me to learn and grow on the job and I am truly grateful."
Her appointment received a powerful endorsement from Auriemma who enthused: "I think she's an obvious choice with all of the experience that she has had as part of the Olympic program as a player, as a coach, both as an assistant coach at the national team level and the head coach (for junior USA teams), being part of gold-medal winning teams.
"The success that you need to have at the Olympic level is, you're expected to win a gold medal every year. In order to do that I think you have to have an expectation of winning, and proving that you can win and proving that you can take teams in a short period of time and guide them is not easy.
And Dawn's been able to do that. I think she's going to be really, really good, because she understands the way the whole system works. She's been a part of it in every capacity. So, I don't envision that there will be anything that she’s not prepared for.
"I think it's a great choice. I'm happy for her, and I'm happy for USA Basketball," added Auriemma.
Meanwhile, the legendary Lisa Leslie also gave a thumbs-up to the appointment of her former playing colleague and declared: "I am so proud of Dawn Staley achieving this great honor! She has always been a coach on the floor for me and all of our Olympic team-mates. I am so confident in her ability to lead our next USA team to gold, and also instill in them the tenacity and pride that it takes to wear the red, white and blue. I can't think of a more deserving coach to lead the team and continue our amazing legacy."
In their capacity as reigning champions, the USA have been handed an automatic spot for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018 in Spain, giving Staley plenty of time to prepare for her first major tournament at the helm.