Sky’s Courtney Vandersloot, Elena Delle Donne in select company

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For the Sun-Times

When Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot participated in the USA Basketball European tour last year, she never imagined representing her country would go beyond that.

But when Vandersloot and teammate and reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne were among the 25 finalists for the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team announced last week, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft became overwhelmed by the magnitude of being selected.

Not only will Vandersloot and Delle Donne be among the elite at the national team’s training camp this month, but they also will be considered for roster spots on a squad that has won 23 consecutive games and captured the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Games in London and won the 2010 and 2014 FIBA world championships.

“It’s a really cool experience,” Vandersloot said Tuesday from Turkey, where she is playing. “You never know what’s going to happen, but I’m excited to be a part of it.”

The 12-member roster will be announced this year. Also among the finalists are three-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi, along with seven other players who have previous Olympic experience.

Considering the number of returnees vying for roster spots, Vandersloot understands she might have to wait for another shot. But Delle Donne also could fall into the same category, -despite her MVP credentials.

Even if that happens, Sky coach and general manager Pokey Chatman considers the opportunity a win-win for them and the franchise.

“Obviously, they’ve got a supporting cast [with the Sky], but if they don’t succeed, we don’t progress,” Chatman said. “They’re a big reason why we’re one of the teams that aren’t just hoping and praying to get into the playoffs.”

M-V-P, M-V-P

Wolves captain Pat Cannone recently captured MVP honors at the AHL’s inaugural All-Star Challenge.

Cannone scored three goals as the Central Division won the championship that featured nine-minute games that were split into halves of 4-on-4 and 3-on-3.

Cannone also won the accuracy shooting title in the skills challenge, needing only four shots to shatter the targets located in each corner of the net.

Fighting cause

Luna Boxing Club in Joliet will sponsor Boxing In the City of Champions, a 15-bout exhibition boxing event showcasing fighters between the ages of 10-20 from around the Midwest.

The event, which benefits Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Will and Grundy counties, will take place at

7 p.m. Friday at the Joliet Park District’s multi-purpose center at 3000 Jefferson Street.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children under 12. For more information, call (815) 723-2227.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.

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