USA U16 Men Ready To Begin FIBA Americas U16 Championship Action
• Watch live at FIBAAmericas.com
After training in Colorado Springs, Colorado, May 28 to June 6 and three practices in Bahía Blanca, Argentina, over the past three days, the 2015 USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team is ready for its June 10 tip-off against Puerto Rico in the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. The tournament, which runs through June 14, will see the top four finishers qualify for the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship.
“I think we’re ready,” said Jordan Brown (Woodcreek H.S./ Roseville, Calif.). “We know most of the plays, and I think we’ve grown closer. We’ve really bonded during the time we’ve been together. The scrimmage (against Canada) was good for us yesterday, so we could actually convert what we’ve been working on into a game against other competition. It went really well for us.”
The USA team, comprised of the nation’s top prep players who are 16-and-under, is hoping to build on the gold-medal legacy of the previous three USA U16 teams. First held in 2009, the FIBA Americas U16 Championship is conducted every other year, and the USA has compiled a 15-0 record and claimed all three gold medals.
“I really like the way we’re coming together as a team,” said USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa). “We’re making some really good individual plays that lead to great team plays. The kids are buying into what we want to do. Our defense is picking up a little bit. I really liked our defense yesterday in the scrimmage against Canada. We’re going to get better the more we play.
“Every year we do this, the bonding issue with the team is really big,” continued Showalter. “If they can keep bonding like they are, they’re going to be really good.”
Fans will be able to watch all the games live online at FIBAAmericas.com. The USA’s Group A opener against Puerto Rico will stream at 3 p.m. (all times listed are EDT), while its June 11 clash against Dominican Republic will stream at 12:45 p.m. and the USA caps preliminary play at 5:15 p.m. on June 12 against Brazil. Group B features Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Venezuela.
The top two teams from each pool advance to the June 13 medal semifinals (5:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.), while the finals will be held on June 15, beginning with the 7th place game at 12:45 p.m., followed by the 3 p.m. 5th place game, the bronze medal match will be contested at 5:15 p.m. and the gold medal game tips at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re giving great energy, having fun together,” stated Wendell Carter Jr. (Pace Academy/Fairburn, Ga.) following the USA’s final practice prior to Wednesday’s opening tip-off. “It’s going to be a great show. We’re going to play hard on defense. I think we’ll do very well this week. Everybody is playing together, nobody’s being selfish and everybody is having a good time.”
Also representing the United States and hoping to extend the USA’s U16 winning record at the zone qualifier are: Jalen Hill (Corona Centennial H.S./Corona, Calif.); Markus Howard (Findlay Prep, Nev./Chandler, Ariz.); Tre Jones (Apple Valley H.S./Appel Valley, Minn.); Kevin Knox II (Tampa Catholic H.S./Tampa, Fla.); Jaylen Nowell (Garfield H.S./Seattle, Wash.); Ja’Vonte Smart (Scotlandville HS/Baton Rouge, La.); Gary Trent Jr. (Apple Valley H.S./Apple Valley, Minn.); Jarred Vanderbilt (Victory Prep School/Houston, Texas); Connor Vanover (Arkansas Baptist H.S./Little Rock, Ark.); and Robert Woodard (Columbus H.S./Columbus, Miss.).
Assisting Showalter and the 2015-16 USA Junior National Team are Miles Simon (California Supreme AAU) and Sharman White (Miller Grove H.S., Ga.).
If the past is any indication, fans will enjoy watching tomorrow’s stars take on the best the Americas has to offer as past USA U16 team members of note include: Brad Beal (2009); Quinn Cook (2009); Aaron Gordon (2011); James McAdoo (2009); Malik Newman (2013); Jahlil Okafor (2011); Jabari Parker(2011), Diamond Stone (2013) and Seventh Woods (2013).
Be sure to tune in Wednesday through Sunday to catch each contest and cheer on the USA U16 National Team as it attempts to add to the USA’s gold medal count at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship.