Get lost, Frodo and company. Liv Tyler, you can stay. But recognize, today, it’s the USA U19s who are the toast of New Zealand.
In an event we’ve had a fun time following this summer at RTC, the USA Under-19 squad took the gold medal at the Under-19 World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand over the weekend, going a perfect 9-0 for the tournament. Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas) led the Americans with 18p/2r/6a/5s in the finals against the U19s from Greece, with UTEP’s Arnett Moultrie adding 10p/9r/2a. The USA placed two players on the All-Tournament Team (which, in New Zealand, is apparently called the “All-Star Five”), namely Taylor, and Butler’s Gordon Hayward. The title is the Americans’ first in this competition since 1991. Incidentally, if you’d like another name to watch out for (we had previously told you about Rutgers’ Mike Rosario who played for the Puerto Rico U19s and the 54 he plopped on last-place France), don’t forget Croatia’s Mario Delas. He was named the tournament’s MVP and is currently set to go 18th on nbadraft.net’s 2011 mock draft.
The final against Greece was indicative of the entire tournament for the US squad in that it was a true team effort. In the final, all but one player on the team played at least 11 minutes and there were seven players who contributed at least seven points. Jamie Dixon (Pitt), Matt Painter (Purdue) and Chris Lowery (Southern Illinois) crafted a US team with players suited for those crazy, confounded international rules, not to mention one that produced an extremely balanced attack, and they brought home the hardware.
Of course, the big question is what each individual player will take from this experience — besides a sweet gold medal which looks a little like a NYC subway MetroCard tied to a lanyard, and what I’m sure are some lovely photos of the NZ countryside — and how he’ll apply it to the rest of his college career. Travel of this nature can only help to broaden a young man’s mind; and we all know that everyone wants to beat the tar out of the United States whenever they get the chance and that everyone guns for us. That’s a sentiment some guys on this team (like Taylor from Kansas, Darius Miller from Kentucky, eventually Seth Curry from Duke) might be used to, and while that environment provides invaluable experience for everyone involved, it’s especially good for players from smaller programs. Doesn’t look like Moultrie or Hayward had a problem with it, eh? It’ll also be interesting to see if Southern Illinois makes a jump forward this year with Lowery having spent quality time around two of the best in the business in Dixon and Painter. In any event, great work all around, gentlemen! Enjoy showin’ off the new bling.