Two connected with Detroit Pistons part of USA World Cup qualifying team

Two members connected to the Detroit Pistons are among 12 who are on the USA Basketball World Cup Qualifying Team for the second round.

Henry Ellenson of the Pistons and Reggie Hearn of the Grand Rapids Drive are at the end of training at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center in Las Vegas ahead of the Friday’s game against Uruguay at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion.

The USA then faces Panama City on Sept. 17, both part of FIBA World Cup Qualifying second-round games.

MORE: World Cup training schedule and roster

Hearn played with the USA’s November 2017 and June 2018 World Cup Qualifying Teams and started in all four games and averaged 12.3 points a game.

He played in three games with the Pistons last season but is not on the current roster, though he could be added at some point. He appeared in 12 games with the Drive and averaged 14.8 points.

Last season, Ellenson, a 6-11 forward, played 38 games with the Pistons and averaged 4.0. He also played two games with the Drive, averaging 29.5 points.

Former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy, who led the USA to a 5-0 record and the gold medal at the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup Championship and led the USA to a 5-1 record in the first-round of the FIBA Americas World Cup Qualifying, is again head coach.

NBA G League Westchester Knicks head coach Mike Miller, and former Georgetown University coach John Thompson III, are serving as USA assistant coaches.

The three second-round windows of competition take place Sept. 13-17, 2018; Nov. 29-Dec. 3, 2018, and Feb. 21-25, 2019.

The FIBA World Cup Qualifying games are being used to qualify 31 of the 32 nations that will compete in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. China automatically qualified as the host nation of the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

CloseMechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.


  • Four players currently competing in the WNBA Finals are among the 16 finalists for the U.S. team that will compete later this month in the FIBA Women’s World Cup of Basketball.Washington’s Elena Delle Donne, and Seattle’s Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart will be playing in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals on Wednesday 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2 in Fairfax, Virginia. Bird has won gold medals in four Olympics and three previous World Cups when that event was still called the World Championships.Delle Donne and Stewart were both on the 2016 gold medal-winning Olympic team, and Stewart also won gold in the 2014 World Cup.

    Delle Donne has been dealing with a bone bruise to her left knee, suffered in the second game of the WNBA semifinals on Aug. 28. She missed Game 3 but returned for the last two games of that series against Atlanta. She’s played both games of the WNBA Finals.

    She told espnW she’s been in contact with U.S. national team director Carol Callan, keeping her updated on how she feels.

    “I want to be there,” Delle Donne said of participating in the World Cup. “I don’t know what I can give. So it’s going to be their decision, whether they want me for just games or if they want someone else to go. I think it’s just about both of us being honest, open and talking it out.”

    The other 12 of the 16 finalists are led by Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi, who has four Olympic golds and two golds from the World Cup. She and Bird also played on the 2006 team that took bronze in the World Cup.

    Mercury teammate Brittney Griner, who’s played in one Olympics and one World Cup, also is a finalist, along with New York’s Tina Charles two Olympics, two World Cups and Los Angeles’ Nneka Ogwumike one World Cup.

    Those finalists hoping to play in the World Cup for the first time are Atlanta’s Elizabeth Williams, Connecticut’s Layshia Clarendon and Morgan Tuck, Indiana’s Kelsey Mitchell and Tiffany Mitchell, and Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum. The lone college player among the 16 finalists is UConn’s Napheesa Collier.

    The U.S. team is coached by South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, a longtime USA Basketball point guard. The U.S. played an intrasquad game in South Carolina on Sept. 5, then beat Canada on Sept. 8 and Japan on Sept 10 in exhibitions.

    The Americans have a four-team tune-up event in France on Sept. 15-17. Griner and Taurasi are expected to join the team for that event, while the players currently involved in the WNBA Finals — if they make the U.S. team — will join later. Seattle coach Dan Hughes, one of the assistants to Staley, also will join the team at a later date.

    USA Basketball will cut down to a final 12-player roster before the World Cup, which runs Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. The U.S. will compete in preliminary round Group D vs. Senegal on Sept. 22, China on Sept. 23 and Latvia on Sept. 25.

    “The committee has to form a team that can compete at the highest level, and the unit that they selected should help us accomplish that,” Staley said in a statement from USA Basketball. “I’m just looking forward to leaving the country and playing some different competition, and continuing to create a bond and build the chemistry that is needed to win the World Cup.”


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