Top Incoming Freshmen Battling For Under-18 USA Team

Posted by EJacoby on June 8th, 2012

Who are some of the most college-ready freshmen players heading to school next season? Gain insight into that answer by following the USA Men’s Under-18 National Team tryouts, whose roster was announced this week. Twenty-three of the country’s top young players, comprised mostly of recent high school graduates, are fighting for 12 spots to compete at the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship. It’s a short tryout, as the team will fly out for competition on June 12. While there are plenty of factors that go into the team’s selection, the final cut could give us some insight as to which players’ games are most developed at this point. Of the group of participants, 15 are recent high school graduates. There are also seven high schoolers from the class of 2013, and the final player is Jarnell Stokes, already at Tennessee after reclassifying up last year to join the Volunteers in the second semester. Our biggest interest involves which of the 15 high school graduates will make the squad, perhaps proving that their college teams can expect big things next season after outperforming their peers and gaining some international experience.

Rasheed Sulaimon Has a Strong Chance to Play on the U-18 Team USA (AP Photo)

The 15 high school Class of 2012 participants are as follows:

  • Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova
  • Robert Carter, Georgia Tech
  • Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
  • Kris Dunn, Providence
  • Shaq Goodwin, Memphis
  • Jerami Grant, Syracuse
  • Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
  • Joel James, North Carolina
  • Jake Layman, Maryland
  • Rodney Purvis, NC State
  • James Robinson, Pittsburgh
  • Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke
  • Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
  • Robert Upshaw, Fresno State
  • Adam Woodbury, Iowa

Who’s going to make the team? For starters, Robinson and Sulaimon have recent USA Basketball experience having played for Team USA in April 15’s Nike Hoop Summit against the World Team. Both players are highly touted recruits in this class and should have a great chance at qualifying for this squad. Sulaimon was a McDonald’s All-American, just one of five Burger Boys at the tryouts along with Dunn, Goodwin, Purvis, and Smart. Many of the other big names from the 2012 class (e.g., Nerlens Noel, Kyle Anderson, Shabazz Muhammad) are not on the list, perhaps because they’ve already been through so much offseason competition already. Fellow All-Americans Gary Harris and Devonta Pollard recently withdrew from the training camp tryouts.

Look for those six players — Dunn, Goodwin, Purvis, Robinson, Sulaimon, and Smart — with the greatest experience and pedigree to have the best shot at making the squad. But who knows what criteria will be used at the camp? We must keep in mind that there are seven big names from the class of 2013, including Nate Britt and the Harrison Twins, also trying out for the team with a strong chance to make it. Throw in Stokes, who’s already a proven impact player at the college level, and that’s another roster spot likely taken.

Billy Donovan, Mark Few, and Shaka Smart are the coaches for Team USA, so expect all the selected players to learn plenty from the experience. Team USA is 38-2  all-time at the U-18 FIBA Americas Championship, taking home gold in 2010 but silver in 2008 after losing to host Argentina. Stay tuned next week to see which players get selected for the trip to Brazil and a chance to earn some valuable experience that they can bring to their college teams next season.

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. 

EJacoby (198 Posts)

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