Rivals No More, Plumlee Aiming For Success With AmeriCup Teammates
USA Basketball AmeriCup team center Marshall Plumlee set a screen, spun around and caught an alley for a two-handed flush.
The guard who threw him the alley was Kendall Marshall.
The shared name of “Marshall” in their respective first and last names is about all that the two have in common at first glance. Beyond their obvious differences in height and skill set, Plumlee was a Blue Devil at Duke University, while Marshall was a Tarheel at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Plumlee said playing with Marshall and other longtime opponents is one of the most interesting aspects of playing for USA Basketball.
“Most of these guys, I’ve played against in the past and I’ve never played on the same team with them, but that’s exciting for me because I’ve played against them and been frustrated by the things they can do on the court,” Plumlee said. “Now, I’m playing with a guy like Kendall Marshall, who gave Duke headaches for years.”
In their weeklong training camp in Houston in preparation for the AmeriCup Group C preliminary round games on Aug. 28-30 in Montevideo, Uruguay, Plumlee and Marshall were two of the most consistently vocal leaders on the team.
Whether it was their common ground of coming from ACC basketball or their high basketball IQ, the two developed almost an immediate chemistry. In camp, Marshall said their rivalry hadn’t had a chance to get in the way of their common goal.
“Not yet,” Marshall said with a laugh. “It’s the offseason so there’s not too much to say right now.”
Marshall wears Air Jordan shoes, honoring the Tarheel, NBA and 1992 Dream Team legend Michael Jordan. Plumlee sticks to Nikes. The question is, are Duke players -- current or former -- even allowed to wear Jordan Brand shoes?
“It’s interesting -- we love both the brands, but we try to wear a little more Nike than Jordan,” Plumlee said with a smile. “If guys slip a few Jordans in, that’s OK, but we try to stick with the Swish.”
Plumlee, who played in 21 games for the Knicks last season and averaged 1.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 8.1 minutes per game, recently agreed to a partially guaranteed deal with the Clippers. He said he had a very busy summer working to improve his game.
“I’m trying to be more poised and do the things that I do well at a higher level,” Plumlee said. “I want to be one of the best when it comes to defending the ball screen, running the floor, setting good screens, rim-running, finishing above the rim and expanding my game.
Plumlee was a social media trending topic at one point a few weeks ago after a video was posted of him playing a star-studded pickup basketball game with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and many others. Plumlee said while he frequently plays pickup basketball with NBA players, that experience was special.
“That particular mixture of guys, that was pretty unique,” Plumlee said. “That was pretty cool, and I learn a lot when I’m on the floor for those guys. It was a hell of an experience.”
Now playing a major role for USA Basketball’s AmeriCup team and hoping to represent the country well, Plumlee said he’s enjoying playing for head coach Jeff Van Gundy, learning a lot and competing with his new teammates.
“This is a great experience and it’s just so rewarding to be able to wear that USA on your chest,” Plumlee said. “That gets me fired up and that’s what I’m all about.”