COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Lady Topper Basketball Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard has been named an assistant coach for the United States U23 National Team in its upcoming U23 Four Nations Tournament as announced by USA Basketball on Wednesday morning.
Clark-Heard is set to join Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart as assistants under Louisville head coach Jeff Walz. Clark-Heard and Walz share a connection that spans nearly 20 years as the two were each assistants for three seasons under the legendary Paul Sanderford at Nebraska from 1998-01; Clark-Heard was also an assistant under Walz at Louisville for five seasons from 2007-12 before accepting the head coaching offer at WKU.
“When I received the phone call, I was just so honored and very humbled. I’m excited to be a part of USA Basketball again; the experience that I had last time [at the 2015 Pan American Games], I’m looking forward to being a part of that again,” Clark-Heard said. “Being around some amazing coaches and getting to learn more from them will be a great opportunity.”
The 2017 U23 Four Nations Tournament, which will include the United States, Australia, Canada and Japan, will be played August 12-15 in Tokyo. Athletes eligible for this team must be United States citizens who are currently freshmen, sophomores or juniors in college.
Training camp to select the 12-member United States roster will be July 31-August 4 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Players selected to the team will continue training at the USOTC through August 7 before departing for Tokyo.
“Jeff [Walz] and I have a ton of history together. He’s a winner, and for him to be able to be in this position leading this group shows that. Having the opportunity to coach this amazing talent alongside him and Courtney [Banghart] is what I am looking forward to,” said Clark-Heard. “How you grow as a coach is to be around great coaches, and both Jeff and Courtney are winners. Being able to talk about basketball with them and having the chance to be around some great people, I’m really excited about that.”
The Four Nations Tournament will mark Clark-Heard’s second stint with USA Basketball as an assistant coach after previously serving as an assistant coach for the Pan American Games in 2015 that saw the United States claim a silver medal. The Louisville, Ky., native recently completed her fifth season at the helm of the Lady Toppers and owns a 130-39 (.769) record since taking over the program prior to the 2012-13 season.
This season, WKU earned a sweep of the C-USA regular season and tournament championships and reached its third NCAA Tournament in five seasons under Clark-Heard with a 27-7 record. The Lady Toppers carried a 12-game winning streak into their first-round showdown against Ohio State on March 17 and nearly came away with an upset victory, dropping a narrow 70-63 decision against the Buckeyes in Lexington. The 27 wins assured WKU of a third consecutive 25-win season for the first time in program history.
More on the Four Nations Tournament… The 2017 U23 Four Nations Tournament will include top national teams around the world, including the USA, Australia, Canada and Japan, and will provide meaningful competition and development opportunities. The USA participation in the tournament is intended to help further develop the USA Basketball athlete pipeline and to help prepare athletes for possible future participation in the USA Basketball Women’s National Team pool. During training camp, an emphasis will be on skill development by position and understanding the culture of success that is an important aspect of playing for the USA Basketball Women’s National Team.
More on USA Basketball… Based in Colorado Springs, USA Basketball, chaired by retired General Martin E. Dempsey, is a nonprofit organization and the national governing body for men's and women's basketball in the United States. As the recognized governing body for basketball in the U.S. by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Basketball is responsible for the selection, training and fielding of USA teams that compete in FIBA-sponsored international competitions, as well as for some national competitions, and for the development of youth basketball initiatives that address player development, coach education and safety.