Collin Sexton’s 20 Points Leads USA U17 Men In 84-66 Victory Over Turkey
Collin Sexton (Pebblebrook H.S./Mableton, Ga.) checked in to score a game-high 20 points as well as four assists and three steals to lead the 2016 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship Team (2-0) to an 84-66 victory over Turkey at the FIBA U17 World Championship for Men on Friday night in Zaragoza, Spain.
The USA will close out preliminary play against Egypt (1-1) at 8:15 am EDT on Saturday. Egypt defeated Taiwan (0-2) today, 88-71. All games are being shown live online at YouTube.com/FIBA.
“Coach told me to come off the bench with energy all the time and I’m just trying to play with energy and get everybody else going,” said Sexton, who tied a USA men’s U17 record by going 6-of-6 from the line. “If everybody else is going and has energy, then we’re good and we can play together.”
Also scoring in double digits for the Americans were Carte'Are Gordon (Webster Groves H.S./St. Louis, Mo.) and Markus Howard (Findlay Prep, Nev./Chandler, Ariz.) with 12 points apiece, and Gary Trent Jr. (Apple Valley H.S./Burnsville, Minn.), who added 10 points. Wendell Carter Jr. (Pace Academy/Fairburn, Ga.) missed a double-double after scoring nine points and hauling in 14 of the USA’s 49 boards.
“Our guys came off the bench and really gave us a boost,” said USA U17 head coach Don Showalter (USA Basketball), who is now 25-0 as head coach of USA U16/U17 teams since 2009. “Collin (Sexton) played tremendously off the bench. We got some really good work out of Jaren Jackson, he really played well. Markus Howard, (Immanuel) Quickley … that’s kind of the make-up of our team. We have to have guys come off the bench and do a great job for us. Starting five to starting five was pretty even, but our seven guys who come off the bench are seven guys we really have to depend on.”
The USA scored first on a pair of Troy Brown (Centennial H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) free throws and never fell behind.
After starting the game shooting a combined 0-of-9 from the field – the U.S. was 0-of-5 – the teams settled down and Turkey hit the first field goal of the night at 7:37 to tie the score.
Carter scored five points in a 6-3 mini-spurt to make the score 10-5. Turkey outscored the USA 7-4 over the next few minutes and closed the gap to two points with 2:30 remaining in the period.
“We had a certain energy and enthusiasm within the team,” said Howard. “Even when things weren’t going right, guys on the bench were being very positive with guys on the court. I think that played a pretty big role in how we were able to get this big win against a great Turkish team. Rallying with each other, even when the chips were down, was what separated us tonight.”
Turning up the heat on defense allowed three different players to score, while Sexton picked off a pair of passes in an 8-0 run for the team’s first double-digit lead of the game, 22-12, with under a minute remaining in the period. Turkey swished a pair of free throws to close out the first quarter with the USA up 22-14.
“It started on defense, we were getting steals and layups and everything else started clicking,” said Sexton.
Following a 3-pointer from their opponents, the Americans scored nine-straight points to open the game up, 31-17, at 6:28. Turkey managed a bucket, but another 8-0 spurt, which included a 3 by Howard and a steal and layup by Sexton, extended the lead to 38-19 with 4:40 remaining before halftime. Turkey closed the gap a bit, but the USA headed into the locker room with a 47-31 cushion.
“Collin is a beast,” stated Howard. “We can always rely on him to get us buckets when we need them. It’s always great when he gets rolling like that and then all of us as a team, we just feed off of him when he’s on a roll and in a groove like that.”
The USA’s lead ballooned 20 points three minutes into the second half and Turkey never recovered. The USA won the third quarter 21-11, taking its largest lead of the night late in that stanza, 68-40, and eased up in the fourth period for the final.
The American bench outscored Turkey’s reserves 54-28 and the USA earned a 29-14 point advantage on the fast break. Outrebounding Turkey 49-30, the U.S. allowed the Turks to grab just six offensive caroms.
After shooting 35.0 percent (7-20 FGs) in the first quarter, the U.S. squad rebounded to finish the night with a 44.8 percent (26-58 FGs) shooting percentage.
Sexton, who shot 6-of-11 from the field and drew seven fouls, tied two former USA U17 men for single-game free throw percentage after sinking all six of his tries from the charity stripe. Conner Frankamp (2012) and Michael Kidd Gilchrist (2010) also went 6-of-6 from the line in a single game.
Javonte Smart (Scotlandville H.S./Baton Rouge, La.) saw limited minutes after picking up his third foul early in the second quarter and his fourth early in the second half.
“Our next game should be another great test,” said Showalter. “Egypt was up on Turkey about 25-8 early in the game. They’re going to be ready for us. Our kids have to understand that we’re going to get everybody’s best shot. We’re the defending gold medalist from the last three U17s and they know that if they have any chance of getting a medal, they have to go through us. We just have to be ready, and I thought our kids learned a lot tonight, so I was really pleased with that.”
In Group B games today, Mali (1-1) earned a 56-47 victory over Argentina (0-2) and host Spain (2-0) came out on top of a tough battle with Lithuania (1-1), 65-61. Groups C and D were off today and pick up action again on Saturday, when Groups A and B are off.
After playing each of the teams in their preliminary round group, all teams advance to the round of 16 on June 28. Winners from the round of 16 advance to the medal round quarterfinals on June 30. The semifinals will be played on July 2, and the finals will be on July 3.
Assisting Showalter and the U17 team are prep head coaches Mike Jones (DeMatha Catholic H.S., Md.) and Miles Simon (California Supreme AAU).
Athletes eligible for this team must be 17 years old or younger (born on or after 1/1/99) and U.S. citizens.
FIBA U17 World Championship for Men
First held in 2010, the FIBA U17 World Championship features the world’s top 17-year-old and younger players. FIBA currently holds U17 World Championships every two years. Under the direction of Showalter, the USA earned the gold medal in the first three editions, compiling a perfect 23-0 record overall.
In the inaugural (2010) FIBA U17 World Championship for Men, the USA captured gold with a perfect 8-0 record and Bradley Beal was tabbed MVP. In 2012, Jahlil Okafor earned MVP honors and was joined on the all-tournament team by Justise Winslow as the U.S. again captured gold. Most recently the U.S. made it three-straight golds as Malik Newman earned tournament MVP honors and Diamond Stone listed on the all-tournament team.