Top Prep Coaches Sam Brand And Harvey Kitani To Assist During USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team Training Camp
A pair of talented and successful high school coaches, Sam Brand from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and Harvey Kitani from Rolling Hills Preparatory School (Calif.), each of whom led their respective teams to a 2017 state championship, will serve as court coaches during the 2017 USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team training camp. The camp will be used to select the 12-member team that will represent the USA at the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Men.
Brand and Kitani will assist USA head coach Don Showalter (USA Basketball) and assistant coaches Scott Fitch (Fairport H.S., N.Y.) and Stan Waterman (Sanford School, Del.) with on-court drills and skills work from June 1-3 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The coach selections were made by the USA Basketball Men’s Developmental National Team Committee.
“Both Sam and Harvey come with a really positive outlook on basketball. They’re great, successful coaches who have had really, really good teams over the years,” said Showalter, who has coached USA U16/U17 national teams to eight-straight gold medals since 2009. “They understand the basketball culture of U16, U17 teams with elite players. They both coach at that level, so that’s going to be a help for us. Another thing they do is bring enthusiasm and a passion for the game that we want to see from our court coaches, and that’s going to rub off on our players when they’re here.”
The 24 athletes expected to attend training camp, which is set to tip-off June 1 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, are: Jabri Abdur-Rahim (Seton Hall Prep School/Short Hills, N.J.); Posh Alexander (Our Saviour Lutheran School/Brooklyn, N.Y.); Dudley Blackwell (Westminster Academy/Miramar, Fla.); Gregory Brown III (Vandegrift H.S./Austin, Texas); Vernon Carey Jr. (University School/Southwest Ranches, Fla.); Jy'are Davis (Sanford School/Newark, Del.); Eric Dixon (Abington H.S./Willow Grove, Pa.); Xavier Foster (Oskaloosa H.S./Oskaloosa, Iowa); Juwan Gary (Gray Collegiate Academy/Columbia, S.C.); Jalen Green (San Joaquin Memorial H.S./Fresno, Calif.); Lynn Greer III (Roman Catholic H.S./Philadelphia, Pa.); R.J. Hampton (Little Elm H.S./Little Elm, Texas); De'Vion Harmon (Denton Guyer H.S./Corinth, Texas); Zach Harvey (Hayden H.S./Topeka, Kan.); Jaime Jaquez Jr. (Adolfo Camarillo H.S./Camarillo, Calif.); Justin Lewis (Calvert Hall H.S./Baltimore, Md.); Wendell Moore Jr. (Cox Mill H.S./Charlotte, N.C.); Isaac Okoro (McEachern H.S./Powder Springs, Ga.); Micah Peavy (DeKaney H.S./Houston, Texas); Jaden Springer (Rocky River H.S./Charlotte, N.C.); Isaiah Stewart (McQuaid Jesuit H.S./Rochester, N.Y.); Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy H.S./St. Paul, Minn.); Isaiah Todd (John Marshall H.S./Richmond, Va.); and James Wiseman (The Ensworth School/Nashville, Tenn.).
Athletes eligible for this team must be 16 years old or younger (born on or after 1/1/2001) and U.S. citizens.
Brand, the third NCAA Division I basketball athlete Poly produced, took over the helm of his alma mater’s program one week prior to the 2010-11 season. He proceeded to turn around a program that had posted just three wins the previous season and upped Poly’s record to 11-13. Since then, he has notched winning records in each of the past six seasons for an overall slate of 119-53 (.692 winning percentage) in his seven years at Poly.
“As a coach, the pinnacle of this level of basketball, or really any level, is USA Basketball,” said Brand, who led his 2016-17 team to a 21-7 record and the program’s first Maryland Class 3A state championship. “The opportunity to one, work with the top talent in the country and two, be someone who is recognized for a lot of hard work and time commitment to the game of basketball and coaching it at this level, and then to possibly one day be a representative of our country in doing what I love to do the most, it’s the ultimate honor. I’m very excited to contribute whatever I can to the organization.”
Brand inherited a program that had never captured a city, regional or state championship. However, in addition to the 2017 state crown, Brand has led his teams to a pair of city championship games (2016, 2017), winning the title in 2016, and captured regional championships in 2013 and 2017.
Four of Brand’s Poly Tech athletes have competed at the NCAA Division I level, and a fifth, De’Vondre Perry, has signed to compete for Temple University in the fall.
His efforts have not gone unnoticed. Brand was named the 2017 Prep Hoops Maryland Coach of the Year and was co-winner of the 2017 SportsMajors Maryland Coach of the Year award.
A math teacher at Poly Tech, one of the top academic public schools in Baltimore, Brand has not only rebuilt the program on the court, he has helped his team improve in the classroom. Prior to his arrival, the team’s average GPA was 1.4, his athletes have upped that to over a 3.0 GPA in each of the past two years. Additionally, Brand was instrumental in changing the city’s weighted GPA policies, which assigns the point system to honors and Advanced Placement classes, to bring them in line with other school districts in the state.
A three-year letterwinner at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Brand averaged 12.1 points a game during his career and was named to the 2005 All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference second team as a senior. He then spent four seasons on the Morgan State bench, first as a graduate assistant in 2006-07 and then as an assistant coach from 2007-08 through 2009-10. During that time, he helped the Bears capture a pair of MEAC regular season titles (2008, 2009) and the 2009 MEAC Tournament championship, its first since 1977. Further, Morgan State advanced to the 2008 NIT and 2009 NCAA Tournament, the school’s first postseason berths since 1976.
In his first season as Rolling Hills Prep head coach, Kitani steered the 2016-17 Huskies to a 29-2 record and the program’s first California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 state championship. In taking over a team that lost in the second round of the 2016 CIF Southern Section Division 5A playoffs and turning it into a state championship team, Kitani became just the second coach in CIF history to win the title at two different schools.
“I’m honored to be selected by USA Basketball to help in coaching the USA U16 National Team,” said Kitani. “To be able to help our country in giving back is just a great experience that has been presented to me, and I’m very grateful.”
Prior to arriving at Rolling Hills, Kitani spent 35 years (1981-82 through 2015-16) as a physical education teacher and boys basketball head coach at Fairfax High School (Calif.), where he led the Lions to three Los Angeles City Section Division I titles, four overall city championships and two state crowns (2004, 2007).
Kitani, who owns an 802-275 (.745 winning percentage) record as a high school coach, was a head coach in the 2006 McDonald’s High School All-America Game. He also garnered 1999 John Wooden Coach of the Year, 2005 California Coach of the Year, and 2010 National High School Coaches Association National Coach of the Year honors. In addition to his prep coaching duties, Kitani has served as a lead instructor at the LeBron James Skills Academy and Chris Paul All-American Camp.
He also is the assistant athletic director at Rolling Hills.
Kitani earned a bachelor’s degree from Cal State University Long Beach and a master’s degree from Cal State University Los Angeles.
USA Basketball Men’s National Team director Sean Ford serves as chair of the USA Men’s Developmental National Team Committee, which also includes 2015 Pan American Games bronze medalists Keith Langford and Damien Wilkins as the athlete representatives. Serving as at-large representatives are Evan Daniels of Scout.com and FOX Sports and St. Edward High School (Ohio) head coach Eric Flannery, who served as head coach of the 2015 USA Nike Hoop Summit Team and who was an assistant coach for the gold medal winning 2013 USA U16 Championship and 2014 USA U17 World Championship teams. Torrey Pines High School (Calif.) head coach John Olive, who served as a head coach of the 2009 USA Nike Hoop Summit team, represents the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and Boo Williams of Boo Williams AAU represents the Amateur Athletic Association (AAU).
FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Men
The 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship will be held June 14-18 in Formosa, Argentina, and the top four finishing teams will qualify for the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup for Men.
The 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship will feature eight national teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean. Qualified to compete at the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship are Canada and the United States as the North American entries; while Puerto Rico (gold medalist), Dominican Republic (silver medalist) and Mexico (bronze medalist) qualified through the 2016 Centrobasket U15 Championship; and Argentina (gold medalist), Paraguay (silver medalist) and Venezuela (bronze medalist) qualified through the 2016 South American U15 Championship.
USA Basketball has claimed the gold medal in all four editions of the biennial event, which was first held in 2009. Under the direction of Showalter, the USA is now 20-0 in FIBA Americas U16 Championship action.
USA U16 team members of note include: Bradley Beal (2009), Quinn Cook (2009), Aaron Gordon (2011), Markus Howard (2015), James Michael McAdoo (2009), Malik Newman (2013), Jahlil Okafor (2011), Jabari Parker (2011), Diamond Stone (2013); Gary Trent Jr. (2015), Jarred Vanderbilt (2015) and Seventh Woods (2013).