SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara women's basketball star Emilie Johnson has been named to Team USA for the 2011 Pan American Games, to take place in mid-October. The senior guard is one of 12 players on the team and the only fourth Gaucho to be chosen to play for USA Basketball.
Johnson, an All-Big West First Team selection last season, is the only player from a California school on Team USA's roster and one of five guards. She is the first Gaucho selected by USA Basketball since both Kristen Mann and Lindsay Taylor represented Team USA in 2003.
"It's such an honor to even be considered for Team USA," said the 5-foot-6 Johnson. "I am extremely humbled that they would select me to be part of the team."
The Loomis, Calif. native will play in the Pan Am Games to take place from Oct. 21-25 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Team USA's first practice for the games is on Oct. 15th in Houston.
Last season Johnson led the team in points, assists, 3-pointers, field goals and tied for the team lead in steals. She averaged 13.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
"Emilie epitomizes what it means to being a true student-athlete and her hard work on the court has put her in position for this amazing opportunity," UCSB head coach Carlene Mitchell said. "Like so many other great players before her, Emilie wears the Gaucho uniform with such pride it's only fitting she will be the one to represent not only UCSB, her teammates, staff and the Big West Conference, but the ultimate honor will now be to represent our country."
Johnson, who has listed her favorite sports team as Team USA's women's basketball team on her official UCSB bio since she was an incoming freshman, considers this honor as truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"To have the opportunity to wear a USA jersey, it's a dream come true," Johnson said. "I embrace the role of playing for my country and competing for a gold medal. I have to thank all of my coaches and my family for helping me grow and telling me to always strive for my goals and to work hard."
The USA, which will look to defend its 2007 Pan American Games gold medal, will be led by an experienced trio of accomplished coaches, including USA head coach Ceal Barry alongside assistant coaches Jennifer Gillom and Debbie Ryan.
"We have a great variety of players, and I think the selection committee did a tremendous job in a tough time period," said USA head coach Ceal Barry. "It's tough for college players to get away, but this is a group that is versatile and talented. We'll find out once we get to Houston how we are going to fit these pieces together, and I'm looking forward to working with all 12 players."
Johnson will try to become the third Gaucho to win gold and the fourth to come home with a medal. Erin Buescher won gold in her time with Team USA at the R. William Jones Cup in 1998 while Mann captured gold at the Under-21 FIBA championships in 2003. Taylor brought home a silver medal in the 2003 Pan Am Games.
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