Elena Delle Donne to attend USA camp despite injuries

Washington Mystics standout Elena Delle Donne, who has been limited to just three games over the past two WNBA seasons, is scheduled to take part in an upcoming USA Basketball training camp in Washington, D.C., next month.

Delle Donne is one of 17 athletes expected to participate in the Feb. 5-7 camp. However, Delle Donne, the New York Liberty's Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney, and free agent Breanna Stewart will only attend the camp and will not participate in the subsequent FIBA World Cup qualifying tournament Feb. 10-12 against Belgium and Puerto Rico, which will be held at the Mystics' Entertainment and Sports Arena.

A group of 12 athletes will be chosen to play for the United States in that event. The Americans will take part even though they have already qualified for the FIBA Women's World Cup by virtue of winning the 2021 Olympic gold medal. The World Cup will be Sept. 22-Oct. 1 in Australia, which, as the host nation, also has already qualified.

Delle Donne, a two-time WNBA MVP, did not play at all in the 2020 WNBA season and played just three 2021 WNBA games, in August, before recurring back issues kept her out the rest of the season. The Mystics did not make the WNBA playoffs last year.

Also expected to attend the camp are Ariel Atkins (Mystics); Stefanie Dolson (free agent); Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings); Chelsea Gray, Dearica Hamby, Angel McCoughtry and Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces); Natasha Howard (Liberty); Brionna Jones and Alyssa Thomas (Connecticut Sun); Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm); Kayla McBride (Minnesota Lynx); and Kelsey Mitchell (Indiana Fever).

Delle Donne (2016) and McCoughtry (2012, 2016) are both past Olympians who didn't play for the United States in the Tokyo Games because they were injured. McCoughtry missed all of last season with an ACL injury.

Atkins, Chelsea Gray, Loyd and Stewart are also past Olympians, having played on the five-on-five Olympic team in Tokyo. Stewart also played in the 2016 Olympics. Allisha Gray, Dolson and Plum also were 2021 Olympians, playing on the gold-winning 3-on-3 team, as that sport made its Summer Games debut.

Sixteen of the 17 camp participants, in fact, have had some past USA Basketball experience -- all except for Hamby, who will be taking part in her first USA Basketball event.

"I'm excited for next month's camp," said 2021-24 USA women's team coach Cheryl Reeve of the Lynx. "We will have an incredible mix of veterans and USA national team newcomers, which will be a great starting point for our preparations for the FIBA World Cup.

"The training camp and games against two very different opponents will give the staff an opportunity to put in the building blocks for the next few years as we look to not only win the World Cup gold medal but qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games."