USA Basketball official explains leaving Candace Parker off Olympic team

Candace Parker
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Candace Parker plays a position that’s “the strength of” the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team, national team director Carol Callan said Wednesday when asked why Parker didn’t make the roster.

“We don’t get into specifics speaking about each player publicly,” said Callan, part of a five-person team selection committee. “Needless to say there are a lot of deliberations. We have a committee for a reason. … What it does speak to is that we have incredible depth on this team. … We’re looking at depth and talent at each position, and there are just a lot of numbers games that are played at that three-four position that is the strength of our team. We appreciate Candace. It’s not an easy call to make.”

Parker, a 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion, was the only finalist with Olympic experience who did not make the 12-woman team announced Wednesday morning.

Nine of her 2012 teammates are going to Rio, the most-ever players with past Games experience on a U.S. men’s or women’s roster.

The three first-time Olympians are all tall players like Parker, including Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart, who can play the same position as Parker.

Coach Geno Auriemma is not on the selection committee. But Auriemma did say the biggest question for the U.S. women’s program after the Rio Games is at point guard.

While the U.S. added three forward-centers to the Olympic team this year, it neglected to add ball-handling help behind Sue BirdDiana Taurasi and Lindsay Whalen, who are all 33 and older.

Auriemma said Delle Donne, Stewart and the third first-time Olympian, center Brittney Griner, have set themselves apart from other first-time candidates at their positions.

“Give me three guards that have separated themselves from everyone else in the WNBA to put themselves at the same level as Sue, Diana, Lindsay Whalen,” Auriemma said. “You really start to look around and, you go, that is a huge question that has to be answered.”

Callan said they wished there were 13 or 14 roster spots to add a young point guard to the team.

Odyssey Sims, 23, was the extra point guard on the 2014 World Championship team.

“We have depth at point guard but not necessarily youth at point guard to take the reins, say, the next time,” Callan said. “We struggled with that one, because as much as you want to bring youth in, then all of a sudden now you’re, again, not able to take another veteran. That’s another one of those excruciating decisions.”

MORE: Auriemma wouldn’t have returned without Bird, Taurasi