2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team Finalized
Following three training sessions featuring 16 finalists, the 2016 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team was announced today. The 12-member team will remain in Houston through Friday to continue preparing for the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, held July 19-23 in Valdivia, Chile. Not only is a gold medal at stake, but the top four finishing teams will earn a qualifying berth in the 2017 FIBA U19 World Championship. Fans unable to travel to Chile will be able to watch all the games live online at YouTube.com/FIBA.
Athletes eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens who are 18 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1998).
Comprised of three athletes with prior USA Basketball experience and four who will play for some of the nation’s top collegiate programs in the fall, named to the 2016 USA U18 National Team were: Jarrett Allen (St. Stephen's Episcopal School/Round Rock, Texas); Mohamed Bamba (Westtown School/New York, N.Y.); James Banks (La Lumiere School, Ind./Decatur, Ga.); Matt Coleman (Oak Hill Academy/Norfolk, Va.); Hamidou Diallo (Putnam Science Academy/Corona, N.Y.); Markelle Fultz (DeMatha Catholic H.S./Upper Marlboro, Md.); Quade Green (Newmann-Goretti H.S./Philadelphia, Pa.); Kevin Huerter (Shenendehowa Central H.S./Clifton Park, N.Y.); Michael Porter Jr. (Father Tolton Catholic H.S./Columbia, Mo.); M.J. Walker (Jonesboro H.S./College Park, Ga.); Paul ‘P.J.’ Washington (Findlay Prep, Nev./Frisco, Texas); and Trae Young (Norman North H.S./Norman, Okla.).
“I’m really excited about the make-up of our team,” said USA U18 and University of Texas head coach Shaka Smart. “First of all, we have 12 high character guys, they are guys who really seem to get along well with each other, and that’s important on any team. And then we have some very talented kids at a variety of spots. We have size, we have length. Our point guard play is going to be very important on this team. Those guys are going to have to set the tone in terms of leadership, in terms of getting us into offense and defense the way we want to get into it. I’m excited about the guys we have.
“We want to play fast; we want to play exciting basketball,” added Smart about the style of play he expects from the USA team. “On the defensive end we want to really pressure people. I think we have the advantage with length and athleticism. We have some real size at the rim. At the same time, we have to be very sound, because we’re going to be playing against teams that can make outside shots and we have to make sure we respect that. On the offensive end we want to share the ball, we want to get out and play fast. We only have a 24-second shot clock, which I like because it means we’ve got to make sure we’re attacking and throwing the ball inside. That can be a huge threat for us, when the ball touches the paint, good things happen and we want to take advantage of our size and length.”
Allen, Fultz and Washington make up the trio of former USA Basketball team members. Allen and Fultz teamed up to help the 2016 USA Junior National Select Team defeat the World Select Team 101-67 in April. Washington gained international experience as a member of the 2015 USA 3x3 U18 World Championship Team that finished with a 4-3 record and in eighth place in Debrecen, Hungary.
Allen and Banks will play for Smart next year at Texas, Fultz has signed with the University of Washington and Huerter is headed to the University of Maryland.
Smart is being assisted by collegiate head coaches Kevin Ollie from University of Connecticut and Mark Turgeon from University of Maryland.
The USA team, playing in Group B, will open the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 preliminary play on July 19 against Puerto Rico, followed by a July 20 contest against host Chile and a July 21 clash versus the U.S. Virgin Islands. Group A teams include Argentina, Brazil, Canada and Dominican Republic.
After playing each of the teams in its preliminary round group, the top two finishing teams from each group advance to the July 22 semifinals, while the bottom two teams from each group will play out for fifth-eighth places. On July 23, the semifinal winners will meet in the gold medal game, and the semifinal losers will play in the bronze medal game.
FIBA Americas U18 Championship
Originally known as the FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifier, the tournament was held every four years between 1990-2006. FIBA changed its calendar following the 2006 championship and the tournament is now conducted every other year, followed in the next summer by the FIBA U19 World Championship.
USA men's teams are 48-2 in the U18 / Junior World Championship Qualifiers and won gold in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2014, while capturing silver in 2008 and bronze in 2002.
Past USA U18 team members of note include: Carmelo Anthony (2002); Chris Bosh (2002); Nick Collison (1998); Jonny Flynn (2006); Grant Hill (1990); Allan Houston (1990); Andre Iguodala (2002); Kyrie Irving (2010); Stanley Johnson (2014); Stephon Marbury (1994); Austin Rivers (2010); Kyle Singler (2006); Marcus Smart (2012); Jarnell Stokes (2012); Rasheed Sulaimon (2012); Kemba Walker (2008); Deron Williams (2002); and Justise Winslow (2014).