Tag Archives: USA Basketball

Rodney Hood to miss University Games

DURHAM, N.C. – Duke’s Rodney Hood, one of 16 finalists for the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games Team, ended his participation in the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games Team training camp Friday due to an injury to his right achilles. Hood suffered the injury during an evening practice Wednesday, June 26.

“I feel so sorry for Rodney,” said USA head coach Bob McKillop. “He committed himself fully to be a part of this team, and we will miss him. He would have been a valuable team member for USA Basketball.”

Hood earned his finalists spot on June 26, after beginning training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., as one of 26 players on June 24. Hood sat out last season after transferring to Duke from Mississippi State. The Meridian, Miss., native averaged 10.3 points, 4.8 rebound and 2.0 assists per game while earning SEC All-Freshman Team honors in his lone season in Starkville.

The USA’s camp will continue through June 30, and the 12-member roster will be announced prior to the team’s departure for Russia on July 1. The 2013 World University Games (WUGs) men’s basketball competition will be played July 7-16 in Kazan, Russia.

Contending for one of 12-roster spots are: Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado); Yogi Ferrell (Indiana); Davante Gardner (Marquette); Treveon Graham (Virginia Commonwealth); Jerian Grant (Notre Dame); Luke Hancock (Louisville); Tyler Haws (BYU); Cory Jefferson (Baylor); Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati); Alex Kirk (New Mexico); Doug McDermott (Creighton); Adreian Payne (Michigan State); Chasson Randle (Stanford); Will Sheehey (Indiana); and Aaron White (Iowa).

After departing for Russia on July 1, the USA will practice on July 3-6 in Kazan, Russia, including scrimmages on July 4 against Russian basketball club UNICS and on July 5 against the Russia World University Games Team before beginning World University Games play on July 7.

The USA has drawn preliminary round Group C for the 2013 World University Games men’s basketball competition, along with Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Sweden and United Arab Emirates. Playing in Group A are Estonia, Germany, Oman, Russia, Ukraine and South Korea. Playing in Group B are Japan, Mexico, Mongolia, Philippines, Romania and Serbia. Group D includes Brazil, Chile, China, Finland, Lithuania and Norway.

The USA will take on UAE at 6:30 p.m. (times listed are local; Kazan, Russia, is +8 hours from EDT) on July 7; followed by Czech Republic at 1 p.m. on July 8; and Sweden at 9 p.m. on July 10; Australia at 6:30 p.m. on July 11; and Canada at 1 p.m. on July 12.

Following the preliminary round, the first- and second-placed teams in each of the four pools advance to the medal quarterfinals on July 14 to compete for first through eighth places; while the remaining teams will play out for ninth to 24th places. The semifinals will be played on July 15, and the finals will be contested on July 16.

World University Games

The United States has claimed 19 medals in the World University Games since beginning play in 1965, and has captured a record 13 golds, three silvers and three bronze medals in the 20 WUGs in which a USA Basketball men’s squad has competed. The USA men own a stellar 138-9 record in WUGs play, and the U.S. captured six of the first seven gold medals awarded in the WUGs basketball competition, including six consecutive gold medals from 1989 through 1999. In 2001 the USA fell to host China, which featured half of its 2000 Olympic team, including Yao Ming, Menk Bateer and Wang ZhiZhi, by a single point in the semifinal and finished with the bronze. The USA again captured the gold medal in 2005 and most recently, finished in fifth place with a 7-1 record after falling to Lithuania 76-74 in the 2011 quarterfinals.

Rasheed Sulaimon Talks USA Basketball

sheed usaCOLORADO SPRINGS, CO—On the surface, it may seem odd to put the words “sophomore” and “veteran” in the same sentence. For Duke sophomore to-be Rasheed Sulaimon, though, he’ll step into a leadership role this upcoming season after a promising rookie campaign in Durham.

An All-ACC freshman last year, the 6-foot-3 and 180-pound shooting guard averaged 11.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game while starting most of the season in his first year as a Blue Devil.

As the squad’s best creator off the bounce last season, ‘Sheed—a favorite amongst the fan base—even carried the senior-laden Blue Devils in a few huge games, notably in big wins over Ohio State (17 points), Maryland (25 points) and Creighton (21 points).

Sulaimon arrived in Colorado Springs with eyes set on making the U.S. National U-19 team and bringing home a gold medal, while continuing to enhance his game as he gears up his second collegiate season. He’s accomplished the former and has done so against elite competition on a daily basis in practice. Fellow team members Elfrid Payton of Louisiana Lafayette, Houston prep standout Justise Winslow, Florida’s Michael Frazier, Washington-bound Nigel Williams Gross and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart—who spurned the opportunity to be a potential top-5 pick in this year’s NBA Draft to return to Stillwater for his sophomore year—have all pushed Sulaimon immensely during training camp.

Getting into the paint and hitting mid-range and long-range jumpers consistently, Sulaimon was among the most assertive individuals on the floor in Colorado. After winning the gold medal with the U.S. U-18 team last summer, ‘Sheed has been one of the most vocal during practices, so it’s no surprise he made the final, 12-man roster.

Off the court, Sulaimon has been rooming with fellow U-19 teammates Jahlil Okafor and Winslow—two coveted Blue Devil recruiting targets in the class of 2014—making this U.S. experience all that more critical on the Duke front.

Sunday evening, the rising sophomore took time to reflect on his experience with the U.S. National Team and his performance, as well as his thoughts on what looks to be a vastly different Blue Devil team for the 2013-14 college basketball season.

Question: First off, I see that you have your left wrist all taped up today. What exactly happened?

Answer: “Yeah, just Duke basketball. I was diving for a loose ball yesterday and kind of hurt my wrist, got a little floor burn and got a big blister. I’ll be alright, though.

Question: So, it’s nothing to severe then?

Answer: “No, nothing too severe. It should be fine.”

Question: What has this U.S. basketball experience been like for you going against the best of the best in an entirely different setting like this? How does this help you grow as a player?

Answer: Well, first and foremost it’s just an honor to be here. Great coaches and top guys that I’m competing against everyday. It’s been great so far. Like I said, it’s been very competitive. I’ve been learning a lot of new terminology, and we’re already strategizing for our game plans in Prague. So, everybody is getting read and there’s been great energy here so far.”

Question: Walk me through your summer. Where have you been and what all have you been up to?

Answer: “I went home for a little bit, and I’ve just been working out each and everyday twice a day.  I went back to Duke for the K Academy and then came back home. Now, I’m here. If I don’t make it here, I’ll go to Kevin Durant Camp, but as you can see hopefully I make this team.”

Question: So, you’ll be back at Duke for the second summer school session? And the whole team will be together from that point on, correct?

Answer: “Definitely. As soon as I get back, I’m going straight back to Duke. No time off.”

Question: You have been rooming with your buddy Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor—two guys Duke is heavily involved with—here in Colorado Springs. What’s the dynamic been like between you and those two guys?

Answer: “Those guys are very mature for their age. They are great players and more importantly they are great guys. I’ve enjoyed my time with them. We have formed a bond even though it’s just been a short amount of time here. Hopefully we can continue to develop a great relationship, and hopefully we can be future teammates as well.”

Question: So have you been doing any sort of recruiting on this trip?

Answer: “You know not really. They already have great respect for Duke, the program and Coach K. I’ve been through the recruiting process and sometime it can get a little bit annoying. But I’m here for them and if they have questions I answer them. More importantly, I’m their friend and I’m just trying to be a great teammate.”

Question: What all has the Duke coaching staff said to you in terms of what they want you to work on this summer? And what kind of role do they envision for you next year?

Answer: “Definitely I just have to get better in every aspect of the game. I have to get stronger, get quicker. I’ve really been working on my ball handling skills. And I think my role will be even greater next year, especially with the loss of the three seniors and captains. Just stepping into that leadership role, I’ve been there and I know what to expect now. I’ve got to help the younger guys and help everyone be on the same page because as soon as we get back [in July] we’re working for a championship.”

Question: Next year’s squad is going to look a lot different than year’s past. Lots of athletes, lots of wings, lots of versatility. What are your thoughts on the style of play Duke fans are going to see with you, Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker and the rest of the team?

Answer: “Like you said, we are going to be a completely different ball club and completely different outlook than last year. We are going to be really athletic, versatile. I think our style of play is going to be a lot faster paced. We are going to press a lot, get up and down the court and space the court. We have a lot of talented players and talented scorers. We are going to be a very hard team to guard, and we’ll just space the floor and give people the opportunity to create for themselves and others.”

Question: Three promising freshman set to arrive in Durham here shortly: Matt Jones, Jabari Parker and Semi Ojeleye. What is your relationship like with those guys?

Answer: “I’ve known Matt Jones for a pretty long time. He’s a Texas kid as well, so I’ve always been pretty close with him. Jabari, me and him met each other about three years ago on the AAU circuit, and we’ve always had a great relationship. He’s a great kid. And Semi is the only guy I need to get to know more. He seemed like a great person on the couple visits he took to Duke. I’m just excited. Everyone is looking forward to the season. And like I said, we have the opportunity to be a special team and have a special year.”

Question: In today’s culture of college basketball, sophomores are a lot of the time veterans. Do you plan to kind of take these freshmen under your wing this upcoming season?

Answer: “Definitely. And that’s a challenge that Coach K wants me to take. Like I said, I’ve gone through a year of this and just like guys took me under their wing last year, now it’s my turn. I’m next in line. I have to step up in that leadership role quickly here and be a leader to those guys.” 

Question: Back to the U-19 team, what are your thoughts on the style of play implemented by VCU head coach Shaka Smart and Florida head coach Billy Donovan? 

Answer: “It’s fun. It’s relentless, but I like it and I think it fits our team well with us being so athletic at every position.”

Question: Talk to me about some of the individual matchups you’ve had here at this training camp. Marcus Smart, another Texas guy, and some of the others. Who has challenged you the most here?

Answer: “Everybody here can play. Damyean Dotson [Oregon], a fellow Houstonian, Michael Frazier [Florida], Marcus Smart [Oklahoma State] and even Elfrid Payton [Louisiana Lafayette]. All these guys bring something different to the table. They can shoot, they can dribble. Marcus is strong. I’m seeing every kind of guard that I’m going to see here. I’m pretty sure the competition that we’re having going against each other everyday is as good as anything I see in the season.”

Jahlil Okafor updates his status with BDN

Jahlil Okafor USABBCOLORADO SPRINGS, CO—Traditional, back-to-the-basket big men of elite caliber are becoming synonymous with rare across the basketball landscape. And that’s precisely why Jahlil Okafor—the top-ranked player in the class of 2014 according to ESPN—is one of the more unique prospects to come through the prep ranks in recent years.

The Chicago product has been a known commodity for years, garnering high-major offers as an underclassman. The Duke coaching staff pulled the trigger abnormally early by extending him a scholarship during the fall of his sophomore year.

Increasing hype and media attention has been the norm since then, but for good reason. The Whitney Young High School superstar is a throwback center with a wide body, soft touch, impeccable footwork and a diverse arsenal of scoring moves on the low block. He possesses legitimate NBA size and power for the center position at 6-foot-11 and 270-pounds. To top it all off, he’s an intelligent player who predicates his game on winning rather than individual achievement.

The Blue Devil coaching staff has swung and missed on a handful of its priority big men on the recruiting trail these past few years, which makes its chase for Okafor all that more important, as well as [private] compelling. Fair or unfair, there is a widespread stigma of Duke’s inability to utilize and produce quality post players circulating around the college basketball landscape. For years, Blue Devil fans have pegged Okafor—who has unofficially visited Duke twice in his high school career—as the player to change that perception in Durham. To up the stakes even more in the recruitment, Okafor has strongly contended that he will attend the same school as his close friend Tyus Jones—the top-ranked point guard in the class of 2014.

Eight schools occupy Okafor’s list of prospective college programs: Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State and Ohio State.

Due to a recurring ankle sprain, Okafor has been forced to miss much of the action of this spring on Nike EYBL circuit with his AAU team the Mac Irvin Fire.

Along with fellow prepster Justise Winslow, the almost fully healthy Okafor is one of just two high schoolers vying for a spot on the U.S. U-19 National Team, which is headlined by mostly rising sophomores in college. During practices, it was evident that Okafor was one of the best players on the floor and will likely centerpiece of the team hungry to claim the gold medal.

Following Monday morning’s practice, Okafor sat down to update Blue Devil Nation on his experiences with the U.S. U-19 National Team and with where things stand in his recruitment.

Question: We’ll start with the U.S. U-19 team experience. You are one of the youngest guys in the gym here. How has playing up help enhanced your game this week?

Answer: “It’s been great. You know I have improved so much this week going against these top college players. The coaches in Billy Donavan and Shaka Smart are really helping me develop. I have improved a lot over these last four or five days.”

Q: Who are some of the tougher matchups you faced one-on-one here at the training camp?

A: “All these big men are tough. Jarnell Stokes [of Tenneessee], [Mike] Tobey [of Virginia], Montrezel Harrrell [of Louisville]. You know everybody here is tough. They are really strong, but it’s a lot of fun. And it’s very competitive.”

Q: Have you learned anything new about your game having gone up against these more mature players this week?

A: “Just that I play better when I play with other great players. It helps me elevate my game. So the better the players are around me, the better I play.”

Q: Looks like you have lost a little bit of weight since I last saw you in Hampton, Va?

A: “Yeah, I have lost a little.”

Q: How has that helped benefit your game especially since it appears that this U-19 team will use a fast-paced, full-court pressure style of play as much as possible? And is that style a little bit different that what you are accustomed to in high school?

A: “Yeah, definitely. I like it. It’s something new. My AAU team, we get up and down. I have been getting in shape to get ready for this experience, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Q: And what is your official height and weight at nowadays?

A: “I’m 6-foot-11, 270 [pounds].”

Q: I understand that you have been rooming with Justise Winslow and Rasheed Sulaimon. What has that experience been like with those guys?

A: “It’s fun. We just talk a lot, crack jokes. It’s a lot of fun.”

Q: Is ‘Sheed doing any recruiting?

A: “No. ‘Sheed doesn’t do that. He pretty much knows that he can’t really affect our decisions. We’ll ask him questions about Duke, and he’ll answer them. But he doesn’t try to recruit us. If we ever have any questions, he’ll always give us a truthful answer.”

Q: Do you know who you’ll be rooming with going forward on this U.S. team?

A: “I’m not sure at this point. They decide our roommates.”

Q: You’ve had an ankle injury that has sidelined you for a good amount of this spring. How is your ankle doing right now?

A: “It’s doing pretty good. I missed a lot of the Nike EYBL sessions just because it was a high ankle sprain, but it’s doing really good now. I have a lot of great trainers here who are really helping me with it and getting it stronger.”

Q: After this stint with the U-19 team is over with, what are your basketball plans the rest of the summer?

A: “Win Peach Jam. I’m very confident that we can, so after we win a gold medal with this U.S.A. team I want to win the Peach Jam.”

Q: Let’s get to your recruitment. Baylor is one school that is scheduled to receive an official visit from both you and Tyus Jones. What all went behind choosing Baylor as a school that gets one of those five official visits?

A: “I just really like Baylor and what they have to offer. Coach Drew is a very energetic coach and I really like that. Baylor is a Christian school, so you that’s what my family loves so much about it. And the campus is just amazing. I’ve seen pictures and they’ve sent me a little video. I just want to experience Baylor and see what it is like.”

Q: So, have you ever visited Baylor before?

A: “No, I haven’t. Tyus has visited there before, and he just told me that we should definitely go see it because he thought it was really great.”

Q: And does Tyus have a cousin or some sort of relative that is connected to Baylor in some way?

A: “His cousin [Jared Nuness] is a [basketball] coach at Baylor.”

Q: Do you have any other official visits set up? Or do you have any idea as to what other schools you want to take official visits to?

A: “Not really, no. I have been busy and haven’t been able to set any more up yet.”

Q: What sort of criteria will you use to decide which schools get those last four official visits?

A: “I haven’t been able to really focus on that a whole lot on it lately, but it’ll probably be a combination of things: the coaching staffs I’m most comfortable with, seeing what Tyus and my parents are thinking, things like that. We’ll see.”

Q: What’s the communication between you and coaches been like these past several weeks? Has it been pretty busy with coaches blowing up your phone?

A: “It’s been pretty busy. Some more than others I guess. I hear from the coaches about the same as far as frequency. I’ve talked to Coach Capel. Coach K was here [in Colorado Springs] and he spoke with me a lot—not about Duke—just about improving out here and what I should do to get better. I’ve talked to Kansas, Kentucky, Baylor, Michigan State, Ohio State and Arizona here lately too.”

Q: What has Duke and Coach Capel been communicating to you about here lately?

A: “Just seeing how I’m doing, catching up. He was telling me that Coach K told him that I was playing well here. [Capel] was just telling me to keep it up, keep working, keep improving, and don’t have an attitude out here that I’m a young guy. Act just like I’m another player out here.”

Q: Kansas just hired Jerrance Howard, who obviously has a lot of ties to the state of Illinois. Do you have any sort of relationship with him? And if so, how does that affect your recruitment?

A: “You know it doesn’t hurt having him over there. You know he was one of the first coaches to recruit me. When he was at Illinois he offered me a scholarship. I’ve known him since like eighth grade, freshman year. I’m really close with Jerrance and him at Kansas doesn’t hurt at all. I’m happy that he’s there.”

Q: And why wasn’t Tyus able to participate in this Team U.S.A. function?

A: “He had some family issues going on, so he couldn’t make it.”

Q: Are you and Tyus any closer to determining a timetable for a college announcement?

A: “No, we aren’t really.” [/private]

Justise Winslow shares the latest on his recruitment with BDN

Photo - USABB
Photo – USABB

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — The pursuit for five-star wing Justise Winslow has been one of the more popular storylines in the class of 2014. A 6-foot-6 lefty with a well rounded game and top flight athleticism, the Houston native was just one of two rising high school seniors to receive an invite to the U.S. U19 National Team tryouts, a team comprised predominately of rising sophomores in college.

Onlookers would not be able to tell that Winslow is one of the youngest players on the hardwood based in his play. Winslow and fellow prep standout Jahlil Okafor both made the cut from the 24-man roster to the 16-man roster, which will soon be cut to 12 before the team departs for Washington, D.C. and the final leg of preparation before the games overseas.

Since turning up the heat immensely on Winslow earlier this year, Duke has made up serious ground in an ultra competitive recruitment. Winslow unofficially visited Duke for the Blue Devils’ thrilling victory over Miami at Cameron Indoor Stadium back in early March. To help the courtship’s cause, rising Duke someone Rasheed Sulaimon — a fellow Houstonian who plays alongside Winslow on the 19U team — is a close friend of Winslow’s.

During the April live evaluation periods, the Duke coaches’ watched the high flying Texan like a hawk. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski attended every single one of his games in Hampton, Va during the second session of the Nike EYBL. That recruiting aggression helped the staff receive another unofficial visit from Winslow just weeks ago for the K Academy.

Arizona, which has been on Winslow harder and longer than almost anyone else, is among Winslow’s favorite programs. Wildcat head coach Sean Miller has hosted him a handful of times for unofficial visits, the most recent of which took place a few weeks ago. Recruiting pundits across the nation are pegging Duke along with Arizona as the frontrunners to secure commitment from one of the most sought after players in the class of 2014.

Despite the positive hoopla surrounding the Wildcats and Blue Devils, Winslow [private] is keeping things tight to the vest. And, contrary to what some have speculated recently, a college announcement does not appear to be imminent according to Winslow. Meanwhile, teaming up with fellow 2014 superstars Tyus Jones and Okafor at the next level remains a legitimate possibility.

Sunday evening following a defensive-emphasized practice in Colorado, Winslow took time to discuss his experience on the U.S. squad, his summer and the current state of his closely tracked recruitment.

Question: With you being one of the youngest guys here, can you discuss how valuable this experience at the U.S. U19 training camp and squaring off against college kids has been for you? And how has it benefitted your game?

Answer: “It has definitely benefitted my game being one of the younger guys here and playing against older guys, who are stronger, faster. It’s definitely helped me speed up my game, and it’s something that’s really going to help me as I get ready for the next level.”

Q: Who are some of the more difficult matchups you have had this week?
A: “Marcus Smart. You know he was a potential lottery pick this year and decided to come back. Guarding him is a great opportunity for me everyday. Other guys like Aaron Gordon, Rasheed [Sulaimon], and guards who are quicker than me are a challenge as well.”

Q: It looks like the style of play that this team will utilize will be a fast paced, relentless, full-court trapping style of play. Do you feel like that style is conducive to your game?
A: “Yeah. That’s probably best for me being an athletic wing. Getting up and down is something that I think will benefit the team like Coach Donavan was saying. I definitely like that.”

Q: I understand that you are rooming with Sulaimon, another Houston guy, and Jahlil Okafor here in Colorado Springs. How was that experience been?
A: “It’s been great. Jahlil and I have been friends since 4th or 5th grade playing AAU Nationals against each other. And Rasheed is just from Houston, so I’ve known both of them for a while now. The three of us having a good time. I think they are going to split us up tonight, but it’s been a lot of fun.”

Q: Let’s switch gears here and talk about your recruitment. You visited Duke pretty recently during the K Academy. What all did you do in Durham that weekend?
A: “Well basically I just hung out with the guys, watched them coached during the K Academy and just got to know some of the coaching staff. We had some open gym runs. You know of course the coaches couldn’t watch, but it was fun with all the guys on and off the court.”

Q: Did you get some one-on-one time with Coach K? If so, what did you convey to you then in his salespitch?
A: “We sat down and talked a couple of times just face to face, which is good. It’s a lot better than talking on the phone. He nailed home some of his recruiting points and it was a good talk.”

Q: What were some of those points that Coach K stressed to you?
A: “Just how he looks forward to using me if I come to Duke, just the benefits of the Duke brand and things like that.”

Q: Shortly after the Duke visit, you visited Arizona. How was that visit? Can you compare it to the Duke visit?
A: “The visit was short, but it was pretty good. I have a pretty good relationship with those guys, but you know the visits are all pretty much the same right now. Everyone is pretty much equal. I’ll probably look to narrow my list down sometime soon, but right now I don’t have any leaders or anything like that.”

Q: In light of these visits, there’s been some speculation that you potentially are getting closer to announcing your college decision. Is there any truth to that? Or do you feel like you have a long ways to go before that point?
A: “I really can’t tell at this point. Like I said, everyone is equal, but when I know I’ll know. And I’ll try to decide as soon as I know so I can let some of these coaches know and move on to recruit other players. I don’t know when I’m going to commit right now. I don’t know how close I am. Everyone is equal, but I should probably narrow my list down sometime soon.”

Q: Do you have any sort of idea as to which schools you want to officially visit?
A: “No idea.”

Q: What does your list of schools look like right now?
A: “Right now it’s at Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Houston, Arizona, UCLA, and Stanford.”

Q: What does your schedule look like for the rest of the summer?
A: “Hopefully make this team and then Peach Jam, Vegas, Showcase in Orlando, Adidas Nations and Elite 24. Pretty busy.”

Q: How often do you talk to Okafor and Tyus Jones about attending the same school? That potential trio at the next level together gets a lot of press as you know. How much merit is there to the rumblings of you three attending the same school?
A: “It’s pretty true. Jahlil and Tyus are great friends and they’ve always talked about going to the same school together. And that’s something we have discussed. We talk about it but not too much. We might text each other about it every two weeks saying, ‘What schools do you like?’ or ‘How’s recruiting going?’ At the end of the day, though, we have to all do what’s best for each of us.”

Q: Between the three of you, is there anyone who is driving the bus for this push to play together at the next level? Is there one guy that is more gun-ho about the idea?
A: “I would say no. Like I said, no one is really forcing the issue and we’ll do what’s best for ourselves. If someone wants to visit a certain school, and the other two like that school then yeah we’ll try to do it together. But no one is really pushing any schools too hard.”

Q: In Hampton, you alluded to the fact that Duke has made up some ground in your recruitment. How much progress has Duke made since your visit in March to the most recent visit to now?
A: “They have definitely made progress because at the time they were a school I hadn’t visited. Everyone is equal, but they did make up ground and started recruiting me harder.”

Q: Duke will have two high quality wings in Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker next year? How much do you plan on watching them operate and how does that play into your recruitment?
A: “Like I said, it just depends on what my family and I decide to do because you know if I decide to commit in November I won’t get much of a chance to watch them. That’s some of the pros and cons of committing early. Teams use those wing guys that I can kinda compare myself to. I have to decide if I want to wait it out and do that or not.” [/private]

Coach K, USA Basketball fills staff

USA Basketball and Syracuse University veteran coach Jim Boeheim, Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, and New Orleans Pelicans head coach and former USA Basketball player Monty Williams, today were announced as USA Basketball Men’s National Team assistant coaches for 2013-16 by USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo.

USA Basketball announced on May 23 that Duke University’s Naismith Hall of Fame mentor Mike Krzyzewski, who directed the USA National Teams from 2006-2012 to a 62-1 overall record and back-to-back Olympic championships, would return to lead the USA National Team program for a third quadrennium.

Over the course of the 2013-16 quad, the USA Men’s National Team coaching staff will direct the USA through a team mini-camp in Las Vegas, Nev., July 22-25, 2013; the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup (formerly the FIBA World Championship) Aug. 30-Sept. 14 in Spain; if necessary, the 2015 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD); and if the USA qualifies, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games (Aug. 5-21) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“Circumstances change for individuals, and it was time to make some coaching staff changes. We’re excited about the coaches we have coming on board,” said Colangelo, who has served as the Managing Director of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team program since 2005 and seen those teams compile a 62-1 record. “I think we have assembled another outstanding coaching staff, one that I believe will continue to lead our program to success on the court as well as off. Coach Boeheim is a Hall of Fame coach who knows the international game as well as anyone and has been an invaluable part of the national team program since its inception in 2006. Coaches Thibodeau and Williams are outstanding additions to our staff, and both of them have already made their mark in the league.

“I also want to acknowledge and thank our previous national team assistant coaches Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan,” added Colangelo. “They were both huge parts of our successes over the last seven years, and I want to publically thank them for all their time and many contributions.”

“I’m really excited about the USA Basketball National Team coaching staff,” said Krzyzewski. “To work with Jim Boeheim again, who’s as close of a friend as you can have in this profession and also one of the brilliant coaches in the history of our game, to have him right along side me is fantastic. We’ve done that for the last seven years, we’re going to do it for four more.

“To have Tom Thibodeau join us, I think his reputation speaks for itself. He was a great assistant who has become an outstanding pro coach, and nobody wants to play the Bulls. The toughness that they show, their togetherness, their competitiveness, and the preparation that is there, that is shown by he and his staff. I think he is one of the best defensive coaches, his defensive game plans are incredible, and so I’m really looking forward to working with him. Then in Monty Williams, it’s ironic that he was an assistant with Nate McMillan, and again he is someone who is well respected in the NBA. The players love playing for him. I actually know him some because is a very close friend of Grant Hill, I’ve met him a number of times, and I’m looking forward to working with him.

“I think the different personalities that we have on this staff and the different strong suites of each coach will make all of us better,” Krzyzewski concluded. “I’m anxious to get started.”

The USA Men’s National Team begins its 2013 training with a July 22-25 mini-camp in Las Vegas that concludes with the 2013 USA Basketball Showcase, featuring a Blue-White intra-squad game, on July 25 at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center. The mini-camp will feature rising NBA stars, newly minted All-Stars, and members of the 2012 USA Basketball Men’s Select Team. A full roster will be announced later this month.

To continue reading the official release, go to USA BAsketball Official site.

Coach K returns to Durham with Gold

After leading Team USA to consecutive Olympic gold medals, Coach Mike Krzyzewski, along with assistant coaches Chris Collins and Steve Wojociechowski will return home to Durham at approximately 5:30 PM today, arriving at Terminal 2.

It should be easy to write about Coach K and his career, right? Well, it isn’t. The problem with writing about Coach Krzyzewski and his vast and varied  accomplishments is the sheer volume of them. And this Duke beat guy has seen them all, from the day in 1980 the relative unknown was first introduced as the next coach of Duke Basketball to his righting the ship for the national program and leading our country to those consecutive gold medals.

I cannot even begin to list all the successes he has enjoyed in between, be it all the thrilling victories on the court — he does have the most wins in the history of college basketball and four national championships —  or all that I have seen him do behind the scenes as a steward for the game of basketball, not to mention the genuine caring he has for his fellow human beings.

Frankly, my head swims when I go to beat out words trying to capture this man, for his career is still fluid, still a work in progress, and that means the train keeps a-rolling. That roll has been nothing short of amazing, and it’s a ride I feel fortunate in having shared. While I didn’t go to London to cover his latest golden achievement, I was there in spirit, and the tension I felt was due to my so wanting him to succeed.

Coach K is more than just the Duke coach now. He’s the man who changed the culture of a USA Basketball program that, frankly, was struggling. He’s the coach that got rich and famous athletes to put their substantial egos aside and come together for a greater cause, that being the red, white and blue. He’s a coach that has acted as an ambassador for the game, challenging silly rules and seeking constant betterment of the game he loves.

If Mr. Naismith himself were alive today, he’d have been proud of what Coach K has given back to the game he created. Even one of the most famous coaches ever to grace the hardwood, his one time rival Dean Smith, the legendary coach of North Carolina said, “There is nobody who can connect with the players better than Coach K.”

When Jerry Conalgelo went searching for the right coach to lead USA Basketball back to its spot atop the basketball world, he made the call to Krzyzewski. The coach responded, in his words almost jumping through the phone for the opportunity. There was never a second thought for Krzyzewski, who is a patriot in every sense of the word. Nothing, not even Duke Basketball, would keep him from serving his country.  At the time, Krzyzewski was an extremely experienced and accomplished college coach, but he quickly developed relationships with all the nation’s top players, and the rest is history.

My vantage from Blue Devil Nation has provided me an opportunity to see many sides of Krzyzewski over the years, and to learn many lessons.  I have rarely missed a chance to talk with him when that time presented itself. I have many stories I will share one day when the time is right, but one thing the Duke head man has taught me is to not bask in the accomplishments to date, for the story has yet to be finished.

True to his word, when he is asked to reflect on his records and achievements, Coach Krzyzewski will quickly deflect the question, and for good reason. He is not a man that wants to rest on his laurels. He’s a man who still has plenty of hunger and love for the game of basketball. Even now, somewhere over the Atlantic on his flight back to the Triangle, Coach is likely to have been charting out recruiting plans with his assistants, while reviewing his 2012-13 roster and preparing for fall practice.

And that’s the beauty of it all to his fans, be they fans of the Blue Devils or of the U.S.A., or both.  Krzyzewski is not finished.