Dawn Staley 'honored' to take USA Olympic women's basketball reins

Dawn Staley coaching South Carolina
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley gestures in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Mississippi State during the Southeastern Conference tournament on Sunday, March 5, 2017, in Greenville, S.C.

COLUMBIA, S.C. - It's no secret that the United States is the dominant force in the international women's basketball world. The U.S. has won eight Olympic gold medals and 11 FIBA gold medals.

"It's not just about winning," said Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of USA Basketball, the sport's governing body in the United States. "We want to build a culture."

Building that culture is now the responsibility of Philadelphia and Temple legend Dawn Staley, the women's basketball head coach at South Carolina.

Staley was tapped by USA Basketball to coach the women's national team, replacing Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, another Philadelphia legend. Staley will lead the Americans through 2020.

"I am incredibly humbled and honored to be head coach of our U.S. national team," Staley said at the USA Basketball press conference Friday afternoon. "It means a great deal to me to represent my country, to wear the red white and blue."

Growing up in Philadelphia, Staley, who was a high school star at Dobbins, didn't initially dream she would reach this position with USA Basketball. Through hard work, dedication, and perseverance to her craft, her role in the organization blossomed.

"I didn't see this moment ever happening because I just wanted to be a part of one Olympic Games," Staley said. "And through dreams arise other dreams."

Staley played in three Olympic Games - 1996, 2000, 2004 - carried the torch in the 2004 games, and coached as an assistant to Auriemma in 2012 and 2016.

"I think she's going to be really, really good, because she understands the way the whole system works," said Auriemma. "I do not envision there will be anything she's not prepared for. I think it's a great choice. I'm happy for her and for USA Basketball."

Staley's appointment to USA Basketball head coach further extends her reach. She hopes to continue to inspire and help the next generation of women's basketball players reach for their dreams.

"You don't get here alone and you don't go to places alone," Staley said as she glanced toward her team.

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