Training Begins For 2011 USA Men's World University Games Team
Colorado Springs, Colo. ē July 29, 2011
Twenty hopefuls today arrived in Colorado Springs, Colo., for the start of the 2011 USA Men's World University Games Team Training Camp, and the college athletes wasted no time getting down to businness with the first session on Friday evening. The camp, which takes place July 29-Aug. 7 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., will be used to determine the official 12-member U.S. roster for the 2011 World University Games that will take place Aug. 13-22 in Shenzhen, China.
The talent on the court is plentiful and includes five players with previous USA Basketball experience, 16 players who earned conference honors this past season, 2011 Horizon League Newcomer of the Year Ray McCallum (Detroit Mercy/Beverly Hills, Mich.) and 2011 NCAA Champion Shabazz Napier (Connecticut/Randolph, Mass.).
"It does help to have played for USA Basketball before because I think I have a better feel for the international game and a better understanding," said JaMychal Green (Alabama/Montgomery, Ala.), who helped the USA to a gold medal at the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. "That was three years ago, but I remember everything like it was yesterday. Iím honored. Itís a great feeling to be invited back. I think Iím a little more prepared this year and should do better."
The USA will be led during training and competition by Purdue University head mentor Matt Painter, who also helped the USA to a gold medal at the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship as an assistant coach.
Along with JaMychal Green, McCallum and Napier, also participating in the 2011 USA Basketball Menís World University Games Team Training Camp are: Tim Abromaitis (Notre Dame/Unionville, Conn.); Marcus Denmon (Missouri/Kansas City, Mo.); Kim English (Missouri/Baltimore, Md.); Yancy Gates (Cincinnati/ Cincinnati, Ohio); Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh/Scotch Plains, N.J.); Draymond Green (Michigan State/Saginaw, Mich.); Scoop Jardine (Syracuse/Philadelphia, Pa.); John Jenkins (Vanderbilt/Hendersonville, Tenn.); Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara/Seaside, Calif.); Greg Mangano (Yale/Orange, Conn.); Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota/St. Paul, Minn.); C.J. McCollum (Lehigh/ Canton, Ohio); Khris Middleton (Texas A&M/North Charleston, S.C.); Darius Miller (Kentucky/Maysville, Ky.); Tony Mitchell (Alabama/Swainsboro, Ga.); Aaric Murray (West Virginia/Philadelphia, Pa.); and John Shurna (Northwestern/Glen Ellyn, Ill.).
As of Thursday, 21 players were expected in camp, but Bradford Burgess (VCU/Midlothian, Va.) withdrew due to injury.
"When I was a kid I always heard about USA Basketball and the Dream Team, and when I first found out I was invited, it was really moving," said Denmon, who is participating in his first USA Basketball training camp. "My coach, Frank Haith, called me and let me know. He was an assistant coach with the 2009 USA World University Games Team. He just told me to make sure Iím ready when I get here and that it was a really good experience. He helped me out and told me some things to expect, but when you roll the ball out, basketball is basketball, and Iím just going to go hard and everything else will take care of itself."
Assisting Painter on the sidelines are Cuonzo Martin (head coach, University of Tennessee) and Brad Stevens (head coach, Butler University), while Tony Bennett (head coach, University of Virginia), Sean Miller (head coach, University of Arizona) and Shaka Smart (head coach, Virginia Commonwealth University) are on hand through July 31 when finalists for the 2011 USA Men's World University Games Team are expected to be announced.
"It's a terrific opportunity to come work with some of the best players in the country and to be around some terrific coaches," Smart said. "The court coaches are here to help the players and assist the coaching staff as much as we possible can. It's great to be in a competitive setting where these guys are trying to make the team."
All of the players and coaches participating, as well as the official roster, are selected by the USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team Committe. Chaired by Jim Boeheim (head coach, Syracuse University), the committee includes NCAA appointees Lorenzo Romar (head coach, University of Washington), Bruce Weber (head coach, University of Illinois) and Roy Williams (head coach, University of North Carolina); and athlete representative Jay Williams, a member of the 2002 USA World Championship Team.
"For guys who haven't been out here before, Iíd say just give it your all and try and be the best teammate you can be," said Shurna, who owns a gold medal from the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship and also trained against the USA Men's Naitonal Team in 2010. "Itís kind of one of those pinch-me moments because not many people get the opportunity to play for USA Basketball. Leave it all out on the floor, and as long as you know you gave it your all, thatís all you can ask for."
The USA has a winning history in World University Games competition, including 13 gold medals and a 131-8 overall record, but most recently in 2009 earned the bronze medal after finishing 6-1 and suffering a one-point loss to Russia in the semifinals.
This collection of players and coaches have weeks of training ahead of them before they get the chance to suit up in competition, but one thing is for certian, no one is taking the competition lightly.
"I know training camp will be physical, tough and everybody will be going hard," JaMychal Green said. "There will be some great competition."