Within the list of 20 players identified by British Basketball there are five college players who could make the cut and be part of the 18 athletes invited to attend the Surrey Sports Park based training camp. The group of 18 will assemble on 5 May 2012 to commence their preparations for the summer, and Bonnie Samuelson who turns 19 years old on the day camp begins, will be hoping she is one of those young hopefuls bidding for a place in London this summer.
Samuelson impressed GB coaches whilst playing in her freshman season at Stanford University in America where she helped her side reach the final four of the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight year.
Joining Samuelson in the preliminary squad this year is Temi Fagbenle (19) who has been included in the lineup on the back of her success at GB under-20s last year where she averaged a team high 8.3 rebounds and nine points per game.
Georgia Jones (21), who gets a long awaited recall following her solid performances with the GB Futures team at the WUGS in China last summer, has also been called up alongside Futures team mate Dominique Allen (22). Kristina Collins (21) completes the lineup of younger players joining the senior ranks after a stand out season with the only Canadian team playing in the NCAA, Simon Fraser University.
British Basketball Performance Director, Chris Spice commented on the young talent selected: "Selection to our senior squad gets more competitive year on year and this squad selection has been the toughest to date. Some very good players have missed out this year and that reflects the increasing depth of women's basketball in Great Britain.
"This initial squad selection reflects the benefits of our investment in our Performance Pathway with the GB Futures and under-20 programmes, as well as our home nation under age programmes all playing a part in developing part of this 2012 squad. However, this is only the first step and all squad members will continue to be closely monitored before we select our final team who will go on to compete in the London 2012 Olympics."
Returning to Tom Maher's squad this year following a successful and historic 2011 campaign are British Basketball's 2011 Player of the Year, Julie Page, alongside star small forward Jo Leedham who averaged 12 points per game in EuroBasket 2011, and has spent the winter under Maher's tutelage in Australia with the Bulleen Boomers.
Other familiar faces that have been called up once again include, Rose Anderson, Kim Butler, Kate Butters, Stef Collins, Steph Gandy, Chantelle Handy, Sarah McKay, Natalie Stafford, Azania Stewart, Lauren Thomas-Johnson, and Rachael Vanderwal. Jeneya Wade-Frey makes a return having been injured last year, whilst Sarah Naylor also comes in for consideration after a string of strong performances for her club Sheffield Hatters.
Standard Life GB women's head coach, Tom Maher commented on the initial squad entering training camp in May: "I am very pleased and excited with the squad we have coming into camp this year. There is a lot of young talent who are the next generation of basketball players in Great Britain and they will learn a lot from some of the more experienced members of the squad.
"We have a good preparation period this year, with plenty of time for the girls to get settled in and gel as a team. I am confident with the players we are bringing into camp this year as we prepare for our biggest challenge to date."
The preliminary squad of 20 players will be cut down to 18 next month. By the end of the training camp period in Surrey the squad will have been reduced to 16 players before the final 12 are selected for the final team on the 22nd June.
Full details of the 20 players in the preliminary squad are:
DOMINIQUE ALLEN - England - Oral Roberts University, USA
ROSE ANDERSON - Scotland - UWIC Archers, Cardiff
KIM BUTLER - England - SK Cesis, Latvia
KATE BUTTERS - England - UWIC Archers, Cardiff
KRISTINA COLLINS - England - Simon Fraser University, Canada
STEF COLLINS - England - UWIC Archers, Cardiff
TEMI FAGBENLE - England - Harvard University, USA
STEPH GANDY - England - Sheffield Hatters
CHANTELLE HANDY - England - Athinaikos, Greece
GEORGIA JONES - England - Oral Roberts University, USA
JO LEEDHAM - England - Bulleen Boomers, Australia
SARAH MCKAY - England - Barking Abbey Leopards
SARAH NAYLOR - England - Sheffield Hatters
JULIE PAGE - England - Torun, Poland
BONNIE SAMUELSON - England - Stanford University, USA
NATALIE STAFFORD - England - Sydney University Flames, Australia
AZANIA STEWART - England - University of Florida, USA
LAUREN THOMAS-JOHNSON - England - Sheffield Hatters
RACHEL VANDERWAL - England - University of Limerick, Ireland
JENEYA WADE-FRAY - England - UWIC Archers, Cardiff