Ivan Rabb Focused On Success
Already a two-time gold medalist playing for USA Basketball, Ivan Rabb (Bishop O’Dowd H.S./Oakland, Calif.) has traveled to faraway places such as Maldonado, Uruguay, where he helped the USA capture the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship gold; and in 2014 he and his USA teammates traveled to Doha, Qatar, for a three-day training camp prior to collecting the FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Now, he is preparing to compete on his third USA Basketball team in the 18th annual Nike Hoop Summit, which will see the USA Junior National Select Team take on the World Select Team in a one-game battle on April 11 (3 p.m. EDT on ESPN2) at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. The game pits America’s top high school seniors against the best basketball players from around the world who are 19 years old or younger.
Rabb, one of 11 athletes who will compete for the red, white and blue in Saturday’s contest, and whose father served in the U.S. Marine Corps, found out for himself over the past two summers what it means to represent his country.
“It’s a blessing to have that U-S-A across your chest,” he continued. “It’s not like we’re going to fight a war; we’re going to play basketball and do something that we love. Whenever we’re on the court we want to go as hard as we can and definitely represent our country the right way.”
While the USA owns an all-time 12-5 record over the World Team in the Hoop Summit, the internationals won back-to-back games in 2012 and 2013 before the U.S. squad in 2014 halted the short streak. Rabb was enthusiastic about getting the call to play in the Nike Hoop Summit and doing whatever is necessary to help the USA earn another victory.
“It was definitely exciting,” said Rabb. “Because I’ve seen the game before in the past, and I know a few of the guys who have played on the team. I know it’s such a big deal because there are a lot of NBA scouts and GMs here to watch you play. I know how serious it is, and it motivates me to play well and dominate.”
The team has just three days of practice to get ready to take on the World and was very focused on its goal during its first two practices on Wednesday.
Most of them -- 10 of the 11 on the roster -- have previously donned the red, white and blue jersey and earned at least one gold medal. Two were teammates of Rabb’s on the 2014 USA U17 squad, while seven were members of the 2014 USA U18 National Team that captured gold at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
The familiarity has helped the team begin to gel, but so has the dedication of athletes such as Rabb.
“(The past two summers with USA Basketball) I learned the importance of focusing in practice,” stated Rabb following the team’s Wednesday evening training session. “There are a lot of guys on the team and your minutes can be taken away very easily. So in practice you have to go 100 percent and pick up anything you don’t really know about, ask coaches a lot of questions and try to stay involved at all times."
“I want to play in the NBA one day,” he added. “And I don’t just want to play in the NBA, I want to be a very good player. If I want to do that, there’s only one way to do that and that’s to play hard in practice. Normally guys who are great players, they’re involved in everything. I’ve kind of picked that up over the years. I want to be one of those guys, so that’s something I have to do. I have to always stay focused.”
Before he is able to realize his dreams of making a name for himself in the NBA, the world traveler still needs to make a decision as to where he will go to school and play next year. He has narrowed his choices to the University of Arizona and University of California.
What is one of the nation’s top recruits, one whose last-second shot sealed the 2015 California Open Division state title for Bishop O’Dowd, looking for in a school?
“In a university, first of all I’m looking at academics,” acknowledged Rabb. “I know that school will always help me. And with me being an athlete, that’ll give me even more connections after college. And I also want to go to a school that’s going to win. Arizona is already established. They’re winning games, they’re in the tournament every year. Cal, this is their first year not really making the tournament. They have some really good players, but they need a few more guys to help turn things around. Either way, I don’t think could make a bad decision. I know people are questioning why I would go to Cal, but you have to see past that and see the potential on the team. I see how much better they got from last year to this year. I just see the energy and they’re hungry.”
However, finalizing his college is not the only thing dominating his thought process these days. Helping his team win Saturday’s game is at the forefront this week. The 6-foot-8 forward, who averaged a double-double of 25 points and 15 rebounds a game as a senior, will be a force to be reckoned with on Saturday.
Don’t miss your chance to see Rabb and his USA teammates in the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, April 11. If you are in the Portland area, get your tickets atusab.com/nikehoopsummit.