Additional Quotes: USA Men’s U16 National Team 77, Canada 60
USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa)
What was going on in the first half?
I think in the first half we were a little too loose with the basketball and had some turnovers. We weren’t very aggressive on the boards. They pretty much dominated us on the boards in the first half. And when you play like that, your shooting percentage isn’t very good. You’re only getting one shot and they were making their shots that first quarter. It kind of woke our players up a little bit. As the game went on we showed what we’re really made of.
I give Canada a lot of credit. They had a great game plan. They weren’t going to let us get a lot of second shots. They were going to make us take shots that we really didn’t want to take.
What did you talk about at halftime?
At halftime we got it back to 10 and I didn’t feel too bad about the game at that point. Although, we told the kids that rebounding is going to determine what’s going to happen in the second half. And that did. I think we outrebounded them in the second half. And then Gary (Trent) hit a couple 3s that were really big for us, and Kevin Knox hit a big 3 for us. I think we were up one and Kevin put us up 60-56. Those kinds of things, sometimes players have to step up and make some great plays. We ran a couple sets for Gary to get hot and fortunately he did.
On Gary Trent Jr. being named MVP:
Gary is a real focused player. He really focuses in on what to do, not only what to do, but how the other team is playing him. He adjusts his game according to how the other team is playing him. So, he missed a couple big 3s in the first half and missed some in the third quarter, but I told him to keep shooting it. He’s a great shooter and they’re going to fall for him.
How sweet is this gold medal?
I think every one is really special. The 2009 one was really special, the first group. But, this is this team’s first time and winning by 17, coming back from 20 down, that makes it really special.
USA assistant coach Miles Simon (California Supreme AAU)
USA assistant coach Sharman White (Miller Grove H.S., Ga.)
Jordan Brown (Woodcreek H.S./ Roseville, Calif.)
Wendell Carter Jr. (Pace Academy/Fairburn, Ga.)
Jalen Hill (Corona Centennial H.S./Corona, Calif.)
Markus Howard (Findlay Prep, Nev./Chandler, Ariz.)
On the first quarter:
They were hitting everything and we really didn’t have an answer for them. But we did in the second half. We knew we had to pick it up. We knew we had to just depend on each other. We knew that if we just kept talking and keep encouraging each other that we’d come back, and we did.
What did coach talk about in the locker room?
He said that shots would start falling. We just have to pick it off and continue to build off the run we were making. We knew that we’d be fine coming down the stretch.
How sweet was it to win the gold medal in that manner?
Oh, so sweet. The feeling right now is indescribable. It’s definitely … I can’t even explain what I’m feeling right now. We’re all just blessed. I’m just so happy that we got the win.
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.)
Javonte Smart (Scotlandville HS/Baton Rouge, La.)
Gary Trent Jr. (Apple Valley H.S./Apple Valley, Minn.)
How does it feel to win the gold medal after being down by 20 points?
Oh man, it feels good. To be down 20, we all just stayed together, played as a team and we got the outcome that we wanted.
On winning MVP:
It really just came with winning the gold medal. It was just all about buying in, my teammates finding me in the right spots and coach’s plays. So, it was all up to the entire program and everybody bought into it. It’s all about the team.
How much fun was it to be with this group of guys over the past three weeks?
It’s been great, meeting players that I didn’t know before and meeting players that I knew of, but didn’t really know personally. They’re all great guys and I’m glad I had the opportunity to do that.
Where does this rank in your basketball career?
It has to be somewhere at the top. With state championships … this is a big one.
How good is Apple Valley going to be next year after having two gold medalists on this roster?
Hopefully we can win another state championship and be ranked in the country. We should be pretty good next year.
Jarred Vanderbilt (Victory Prep School/Houston, Texas)
On today’s game:
It was a tough game. We were down by 20, but we stuck together. That was our first time really facing adversity and for us to stay together and stick it out to the end really shows how good we are as a team, the brotherhood, the chemistry that we have.
On his second half play:
I knew I had to take the load. The guards, they weren’t knocking down shots, so I had to go and make some big plays. By me scoring those six points, it really sparked us up. Then Gary came out and he just fed off of that. He came out and started hitting shots. That’s when the game really broke out.
Does it make this gold medal sweeter, knowing you had to fight back from 20 points down?
Absolutely. It makes it 10 times better. I knew they weren’t going to give us the game. I knew it was going to be a hard-fought game because they seemed like they really wanted it too. It just makes the win even much better because we had to fight so hard for it.
What were you feeling on the medal stand with the national anthem playing?
I was thinking of all the hard work. All the two-a-day practices we had. It’s just payday. All that work has paid off with this gold medal. It’s just a great feeling. It’s indescribable.
Connor Vanover (Arkansas Baptist H.S./Little Rock, Ark.)
Robert Woodard (Columbus H.S./Columbus, Miss.)