The 12-man USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team was announced Saturday night following the team’s ninth practice since June 5. Featuring some of the nation’s top 18-year-old and younger players, the USA team will compete in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, which will be played June 16-20 in Sao Sebastiáo do Paraiso, Brazil.
The U.S. team will continue to train through June 11 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and will depart June 12 for Brazil. Players eligible for this competition must have been born on or after Jan. 1, 1994.
Named a member of the USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team were: James Robinson (DeMatha Catholic H.S./Mitchellville, Md.); Jerami Grant (DeMatha Catholic/Bowie, Md.); Nate Britt (Gonzaga H.S., D.C./Upper Marlboro, Md.); Sam Dekker (Sheboygan Lutheran H.S./Sheboygan, Wis.); Shaq Goodwin (Southwest DeKalb H.S./Decatur, Ga.);Montrezl Harrell (Hargrave Military Academy/Tarboro, N.C.); Jake Layman (King Phillip Regional H.S./Wrentham, Mass.); Rodney Purvis (Upper Room Christian/Raleigh, N.C.); Julius Randle (Prestonwood Christian Academy/ McKinney, Texas);Marcus Smart (Marcus H.S./Flower Mound, Texas); Jarnell Stokes (Memphis, Tenn.); and Rasheed Sulaimon (Strake Jesuit College Prep/Houston, Texas).
The 2012 USA U18 National Team is being led by a trio of experienced and successful college coaches, including USA head coach Billy Donovan of the University of Florida). Assisting Donovan along the sidelines are Gonzaga head coach Mark Few and Shaka Smart from Virginia Commonwealth.
“I think we’ve got some balance, we’ve got some versatility, we can move guys to some different positions. This has been a group that has picked up things pretty well so far so I’m excited about it,” said Donovan. “The thing I’ve been most impressed with since we started is just their attitudes. It seems like we’ve got really good chemistry, they get along real well, they seem to be a cohesive group.
“I think we have to play up tempo; we have to offensive rebound; and I think the other thing for our team that we have to get better at is taking care of the basketball. I think when you’ve got a lot of players that are thrown together and are now starting to play, they don’t really know each other.
“But I definitely think rebounding and transition are going to be important keys, and I also think defensively how well we can guard the 3-point line,” added Donovan.
Included on the official U.S. team roster is rising University of Tennessee sophomore Stokes, who is the lone collegian named to the team. Graduating high school seniors Robinson and Sulaimon boast of the only prior USA Basketball experience having suited up for the USA in April at the 15th annual Nike Hoop Summit.
In addition to rising college sophomore Stokes, who listed on the 2011-12 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team, Smart (Texas) took home his second-consecutive Gatorade State Player of the Year honor in 2012; while Dekker (Wis.) and Purvis (N.C.) were named their state’s 2012 Gatorade State Player of the Year; and Britt (D.C.) earned the honor in 2011.