The 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team will be led by Jeff Walz of the University of Louisville, with Natasha Adair of the University of Delaware and Cori Close of UCLA serving as the USA’s assistant coaches.
The trio will guide the USA at the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, for which the dates and location are still to be announced. The top four finishing teams at the championship will earn a qualifying berth into next summer’s 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.
“We are very excited that Jeff, Natasha, and Cori have agreed to represent the United States as coaches for the U18 FIBA Americas Championship,” said Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington University), chair of the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, which is responsible for selecting players and coaches for USA women’s U18 and U19 teams. “As a committee, we talked extensively about finding a group that could successfully lead and manage this talented but young age group, and I feel like we found the right fit with this trio. Not only have they all been successful at their individual institutions, but they possess the right mix of strengths that we feel will help this team bring home the gold.”
This past summer, Walz led the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U23 National Team to a 3-0 record and a tournament title at the Four Nations U24 Tournament in Tokyo, and he previously helped USA Basketball to gold medals as an assistant coach for the 2014 USA Women’s U18 and 2015 USA U19 national teams.
Walz recently completed his 11th season (2007-08 to present) as the Louisville head coach, where he owns a 299-96 (.757) record.
In 2017-18, he led the Cardinals to a 36-3 record, the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament titles and the NCAA Tournament Final Four, and he was named the 2018 ACC Coach of the Year.
Overall at Louisville, he has led the program to 10 NCAA Tournaments, eight NCAA Sweet 16s, four Elite Eights, three Final Fours and two appearances in the national championship game. Ten times he has led Louisville to at least 20 wins in a season, and three times his squad has tallied at least 30 victories.
“I am extremely excited to get the opportunity to work with USA Basketball again,” said Walz. “I had an amazing experience last summer in Japan as the head coach of the U23 team, and I have spent time with USA Basketball the past three summers. Working with USA Basketball is something that I have always dreamed of doing, and I look forward to leading the U18 team this summer. USA Basketball possesses impeccable standards and a winning tradition, and it is an honor to once again be entrusted with such an important role.”
Adair will serve in her second USA Basketball coaching assignment. Previously, she served as a court coach during the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Cup Team Trials.
Adair recently completed her first season as head coach at the University of Delaware, where she guided her squad to a 19-13 record and a WNIT appearance. 2017-18 was her sixth season overall as a collegiate head coach. She also spent 14 seasons (1994-2012) as an assistant coach at Georgetown and Wake Forest University.
Prior to Delaware, she spent three seasons (2014-15 to 2016-17) as the head coach at Georgetown University and two seasons (2012-13 and 2013-14) at the helm of the women’s basketball team at the College of Charleston.
“To be named as an assistant coach for the USA U18 national team is not only an honor but a dream come true,” Adair said. “I’m extremely proud to be working with phenomenal coaches and players this summer. I understand the commitment, responsibility and pride that’s required to represent the USA. When I put on the red, white and blue it is to coach, lead and guide some of the country’s best and brightest players to the ultimate achievement of winning a gold medal and representing the USA in the highest regard.”
Cori Close also will enter her second USA Basketball coaching stint, as she previously was a court coach at the 2017 USA Women’s U23 National Team Training Camp.
In seven seasons at the helm of the UCLA women’s basketball program, Close has compiled an overall record of 150-86 record (.636 winning percentage).
She has led UCLA teams to at least 20 wins in each of the last three seasons, including 2017-18, which saw UCLA finish 27-8 and reach the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.
She also owns 18 seasons of experience as an NCAA assistant coach at UCLA, Florida State University and her alma mater, UC Santa Barbara.
“I am truly honored to be involved with USA basketball and I’m looking forward to working with Jeff and Natasha in pursuit of the gold,” Close said.
Trials to select the finalists for the 12-member 2018 USA Women’s U18 National Team will be held May 25-29 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Athletes eligible for this team must be 18 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 2000).
The finalists will return to Colorado Springs for training camp (dates to be determined), before the team departs for the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
USA women’s teams are a remarkable 53-2 all-time in FIBA Americas U18 competition, capturing gold in 1988, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 and silver in 1992 and 1996.
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