USA Basketball today announced its official 12-man roster for the USA U19 World Championship Team. The USA squad, featuring five players with prior USA Basketball experience, will look to defend the gold medal won by the U.S. in 2009 at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship.
Named a member of the USA U19 World Championship Team were: Keith Appling (Michigan State/Detroit, Mich.); James Bell (Villanova/Orlando, Fla.); Anthony Brown (Stanford/Huntington Beach, Calif.); Jahii Carson (Mesa High School/*Arizona State/Phoenix, Ariz.);Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Michigan/Miami, Fla.); Joe Jackson (Memphis/Memphis, Tenn.); Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut/Norcross, Ga.); Meyers Leonard (Illinois/Robinson, Ill.); Khyle Marshall (Butler/Davie, Fla.); Doug McDermott (Creighton/ Ames, Iowa); Tony Mitchell (North Texas/Dallas, Texas); and Patric Young (Florida/Jacksonville, Fla.).
George Mason University mentor Paul Hewitt is head coach of the USA U19 World Championship Team, and is being assisted by collegiate head coaches Randy Bennett of St. Maryâ€™s College and Cliff Warren of Jacksonville University.
â€œI like the depth and versatility of this team, in particular our big guys. I think our big guys are a great presence around the basket and do an excellent job of screening,â€ said Hewitt. â€œDefense will have to be a staple for this team and we have work to do. Iâ€™m not happy with where we are defensively. I think we made steps, weâ€™re doing some good things, but in order to compete for the gold medal we have to get better.
â€œThe selection was harder than I expected. The young man we decided not to keep, Javon McCrae, it was really just a numbers situation, he played more than well enough to make the team. We just didnâ€™t feel comfortable going over there without three point guards,â€ Hewitt stated.
The team will complete its domestic training Thursday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and then depart for Europe on June 24. The USA squad will train June 25-28 in Lithuania. The Americans will face the Lithuania U20 National Team in an exhibition game on June 26 in Panevrzys, Lithuania, and then meet the Lithuania U19 National Team on June 28 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Men is being held June 30-July 10 in Valmiera, Liepaja and Riga, Latvia.
â€œThe exhibition games are very important because they will help get us adjusted to the type environment weâ€™ll be playing in,â€ said Hewitt about the USAâ€™s two â€œfriendliesâ€ in Lithuania. â€œThe teams weâ€™re going to be playing there are obviously going to be more organized in their approach offensively and defensively, and theyâ€™re going to test us. Weâ€™re going to have to think. Right now I think weâ€™re doing it a lot on physical ability. I see some cohesiveness coming together but the two exhibition games in Lithuania will definitely test our cohesiveness.
â€œEven if we win a game, weâ€™ve got to take a approach that itâ€™s like a practice and take a look at the things we didnâ€™t do well and see how we can improve on them. Certainly we need to keep building on our strengths but from game to game weâ€™ve got to get something out of it that we can use to help us get ready for the next game,â€ added Hewitt.
Five of the finalists possess prior USA Basketball experience including two players from the 2010 USA U18 National Team that captured gold at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
Mitchell and Young were part of USA Basketballâ€™s 2010 U18 team, while Leonard and Young participated on the USA Junior National Select Team that won the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit. Other players possessing prior USA Basketball trials experience included Appling and Bell, while Jackson was invited to the 2010 U17 Trials but was unable to participate.
Featured on the U.S. roster are 11 student-athletes who attended 11 different NCAA Division I schools in 2010-11 and one player (Carson) who completed his high school career this year. Eight conferences have representation on the USA roster as well.