Headlined by nine returning USA Basketball veterans, including two starters from the Nike Hoop Summit Junior National Select Team, 25 of the nation's top-18-and-younger prep sensations are set to attend the 2008 USA Basketball Men's U18 National Team Trials, July 1-3 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The 25 athletes, born on or after Jan. 1, 1990, will compete for one of 12 roster spots on the 2008 Men's U18 National Team. Athlete selections for the USA Basketball Trials were made by the USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee, chaired by Syracuse University head coach Jim Boeheim.
"We have the best young players in the country participating in the trials and we've assembled an outstanding coaching staff to coach with them," said Boeheim. "The USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee did an outstanding job of identifying a tremendous group of young players who will compete for a roster position on the USA Basketball U18 National Team."
Following trials, the Men's Collegiate Committee is expected to announce the 12-member USA U18 National Team roster, plus alternates. The selected finalists will remain in Washington for the July 4-10 training camp. The USA squad will then depart for the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship For Men, July 14-18 in Formosa, Argentina.
Two athletes on the trials roster will return to the hardwood to represent the USA for a third time in July. Drew Gordon (Archbishop Mitty H.S. / San Jose, CA) and Malcom Lee (John W. North H.S. / Riverside, CA) helped lead the USA to a 98-78 victory over the World Select Team at the Nike Hoop Summit in April. Gordon, the Junior National Team's second-leading scorer, accounted for 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocks while shooting 85.7 percent from the field. However, in spite of his stellar performance, Gordon credited much of the team's success to the USA's backcourt play. Among the cast of tenacious guards was Lee, who helped force 25 World turnovers and 18 USA steals.
Gordon and Lee first showcased their talent in a USA Basketball uniform at the 2007 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival, held in Colorado Springs, Colo. Also returning from the Festival are: Isaiah Armwood (Montrose Christian H.S. / Rockville, MD); Leslie McDonald (Briarcrest H.S. / Memphis, TN); Reeves Nelson (Modesto Christian H.S. / Modesto, CA); Travis Releford (Bishop Miege H.S. / Shawnee Mission, KS); Lance Stephenson (Lincoln H.S. / Brooklyn, NY); Dexter Strickland (St. Patrick H.S. / Elizabeth, NJ); and Kemba Walker (Rice H.S. / New York, NY).
Rounding out the trials roster are USA Basketball newcomers: Kenny Boynton (American Heritage H.S. / Plantation, FL); Dominic Cheek (St. Anthony H.S. / Jersey City, NJ); JaMychal Green (St. Jude H.S. / Montgomery, AL); Kenny Hall (Redan H.S. / Stone Mountain, GA); Matt Humphrey (Hales Franciscian H.S. / Chicago, IL); Ryan Kelly (Revenscroft H.S. / Raleigh, NC); Sylven Landesberg (Holy Cross H.S. / Flushing, NY); Darius Miller (Mason County H.S. / Maysville, KY); Mason Plumlee (Christ H.S. / Arden, NC); Ari Stewart (Wheeler H.S. / Marietta, GA); Hollis Thompson (Loyola H.S. / Los Angeles, CA); Terrell Vinson (Montrose Christian H.S. / Rockville, MD); Maalik Wayns (Roman Catholic H.S. / Philadelphia, PA); David Wear (Mater Dei H.S. / Santa Ana, CA); Travis Wear (Mater Dei H.S. / Santa Ana, CA); and Wesley Witherspoon (Berkman H.S. / Lilburn, GA).
Davidson College head coach Bob McKillop will lead the USA's 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship For Men Team, while Virginia Commonwealth University's head mentor Anthony Grant and Georgetown University's head coach John Thompson III will serve as assistant coaches. Collegiate head coaches Steve Donahue, Cornell University; Kevin McCarthy, the State University of the New York at Cobleskil; Joe Niland, the University of Mobile; and Gary Stewart, the University of California at Davis will serve as court coaches at the 2008 USA Basketball Men's U18 National Team Trials.
The USA U18 Trials session will be held July 1-3 at the Verizon Center, home to the Washington Wizards, in Washington, D.C. The first trials session will be held on Tuesday, July 1, at 5:00-7:00 p.m. (all times local). On Wednesday, July 2, trials sessions will be conducted at 10:00-noon and 6:00-8:00 p.m. The final pair of trials sessions is scheduled for Thursday, July 3, at 10:00-noon and 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Overall, the trials roster boasts of nine Parade Magazine All-America honorees, four McDonald's All-Americans, five Gatorade State Players of the Year and one USA Today All-USA First Team selection (Stephenson).
Included on the 2008 Parade Magazine All-America High School Boys Basketball Teams were Landesberg, Stephenson and Walker as second team picks, Green, McDonald, Miller and Strickland earned third team honors, while Boynton and Lee collected fourth team honors.
Helping the East team to a 107-102 victory in the 2008 McDonald's All-American game were Green, Landesberg and Walker, while Lee was the sole representative for the West team.
Trials invitees were also well represented on the 2007-08 Gatorade Boys Basketball State Players of the Year listing with Green selected for the state of Alabama, Releford for Kansas, Miller for Kentucky, Landesberg for New York and McDonald for Tennessee.
Rivals.com ranked six of the seniors among its top 50 players, while the remaining three seniors rounded out the top 100. Walker listed No. 14, Green placed No. 21, Witherspoon was No. 34, Miller ranked No. 43, Gordon at No. 46, Lee was No. 48, Landesberg at No. 66, Releford listed No. 70, while Humphrey ranked No. 95.
Eleven of the rising juniors rank among Rivals.com top 50 players in the class of 2009. Stephenson lists No. 7, Cheek is No. 11, Strickland is No. 16, Armwood is No. 23, Wayns at No. 24, Nelson ranks No. 30, McDonald is No. 32, Plumlee ranks No. 40, Hall lists No. 41, Kelly is No. 44 and Thompson is No. 46. Four additional juniors also listed amongst Rivals' top-65: Wear (David) ranks No. 54, Wear (Travis) lists No. 55, Stewart is No. 59, while Vinson ranks No. 61.
Nine of the 25 trials hopefuls will be college freshman in the 2008-09 season, and the remaining 17 will be high school seniors in the class of 2009. All nine graduating senior players have signed with prominent NCAA Division I institutions. Gordon and Lee have both been signed by UCLA, Green will play for Alabama, Humphrey was inked by Oregon, Landesberg signed with Virginia, Miller will play at Kentucky, Walker with UConn, Releford at Kansas and Witherspoon will play at Memphis.
Eight additional athletes slated to finish their high school careers in 2008-09 have verbally committed to NCAA Division I programs: Hall with Tennessee; Nelson with UCLA; Plumlee with Duke; Thompson with Georgetown; Wayns with Villanova; and Strickland, David Wear and Travis Wear with North Carolina.
2008 USA U18 Championship Team
The 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship will qualify the top four finishing teams for the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship, slated to be held July 2-12 in New Zealand.
The FIBA Americas U18 Championship format divides the eight teams into two preliminary round groups consisting of four teams each. Preliminary round play will be held July 14, 15 and 16, and each team will play the other three teams in its preliminary group. The two top finishing teams in each preliminary round group will then advance to the Thursday, July 17 medal round semifinals and compete for 1st-4th places. Teams placing third and fourth in each preliminary round group will advance to the consolation semifinals and play for 5th-8th places. The FIBA Americas U18 Championship Finals will be contested Friday, July 18.
Originally known as the FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifier, the tournament was held every four years between 1990-2006. FIBA changed its calendar, however, and the tournament will now be conducted every other year, followed in the next summer by the FIBA U19 World Championship.
USA men's teams boast of a sensational 29-1 overall record in the U18/junior qualifiers and won gold in 1990, 1994, 1998, and most recently in 2006, when the United States played host to the U18 Championship For Men for the first time in San Antonio, Texas. The USA men's team also captured the bronze in 2002. Hosts of prior U18 championships are: San Antonio, Texas in 2006; Isle de Margarita, Venezuela in 2002; Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic in 1998; Santa Rosa, Argentina in 1994; and Montevideo, Uruguay in 1990.
Some top players to have represented the United States in the past U18 tournaments include Shareef Abdur-Rahim (1994); Carmelo Anthony (2002); Jerryd Bayless (2006); Michael Beasley (2006); Chris Bosh (2002); Dee Brown (2002); Nick Collison (1998); Grant Hill (1990); Alan Houston (1990); Andre Iguodala (2002); Stephon Marbury (1994); Mike Miller (1998); Quentin Richardson (1998); Kyle Singler (2006); and Deron Williams (2002).