USA Minicamp Primer: Get Set For Talent-Loaded Weekend
Throughout the afternoon and evening on Friday, Oct. 6, dozens and dozens of the USA’s top, high school basketball players arrived at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the ninth-annual USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team October minicamp.
In preparation for two days of intense competition, the 54 athletes taking part got their USA Basketball gear, had their official measurements taken and met with medical staff.
While USA Basketball cannot take you behind all of the scenes at training camp, we can do our best to share the experience. Sunday's training session from 11:45 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (EDT) will be livestreamed across USA Basketball platforms (www.usab.com, https://twitter.com/usabasketball, https://www.facebook.com/usabasketball and https://www.youtube.com/user/therealusabasketball).
Until then, check out more about who is taking part in the weekend and what it is all about.
Unlike most USA Basketball training camps, no cuts will be made and no team is being selected.
Instead, the 54 players will compete in two practice sessions on Saturday and two sessions on Sunday hoping to not only put their talents on display for the USA Basketball Men’s Developmental National Team Committee and coaches, but also looking to find out where they stand among their competition.
“Every time here is just another opportunity to prove myself. I know there is going to be a lot of talent here,” said 6-foot-10 Jordan Brown (Woodcreek H.S./Roseville, Calif.), who has won gold medals as a member of the USA 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship teams. "Each time you come, you get to see some of the same people and you can see how they are developing and that lets you see how you are developing compared to them. You see how everybody gets better and you want to make sure you are still a part of that select group.”
The 54 players fall into consideration for one of two future USA Basketball teams, either the 2018 USA Nike Hoop Summit Team, which will be comprised of 2018 high school seniors, or the 2018 USA U17 World Cup Team, which will feature players born on or after Jan. 1, 2001.
Eighteen of the minicamp participants will graduate high school this spring with the class of 2018, while 36 are members of the high school classes of 2019, 2020 or 2021.
Of the participants, 13 are 15 years old, 23 are 16 years old, 13 are 17 years old and five are 18 years old. Class of 2020 6-foot-6 forward Julian Strawther (Liberty H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) is the miniamp's youngest participant.
“It’s definitely fun to get after it with the older guys," said Class of 2019 forward Jamie Jaques Jr. (Adolfo Camarillo H.S./Camarillo, Calif.). "They are always pushing you, helping you get better, but it’s also fun to be here with those younger guys. That was once you, you know? Those guys have a lot of talent, too. It’s going to be a really fun environment with the mixture of players. I’m looking forward to playing with all these top guys.”
The USA will be guided at the minicamp by Don Showalter, head coach of the 2018 USA U17 World Cup Team, a nine-time gold medalist head coach and USA Basketball director of coach development. Gold-medal winning 2017 USA U16 National Team assistant coaches Scott Fitch (Fairport H.S., N.Y.) and Stan Waterman (Sanford School, Del.) will serve as assistant coaches, while serving as court coaches will be Mike Jones (DeMatha Catholic H.S., Md.), Dave Hopla (professional shooting instructor) and 1996 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway (Memphis East H.S., Tenn.).
“The group (of coaches) is a really good group because for the most part they have been a part of USA Basketball before so they understand the culture and what we’re trying to do,” said Showalter, who has directed the players through the previous eight October minicamps. “The two assistants from the 2017 U16 National Team are back with us, Stan Waterman and Scott Fitch, which makes it much easier to work with them.
“Of course, Mike Jones has been a part of USA Basketball for a long time and he’s back with us and he will work mainly with the Nike Hoop Summit kids.
“We also added two coaches that are new to our program. Penny Hardaway, who obviously is not new to USA Basketball because he played in the Olympics and has a long history with USA Basketball and in the league itself. Now he’s a high school coach in Memphis. He brings a lot of different ideas to the game and I think he’s going to be really good to have around the kids because he can offer a lot of his experiences to the players themselves and make them better.
“Dave Hopla is really a shooting guru. We’re going to have him work with individual players, pull them aside and work on their shooting and see what we can do to improve some of the shots the kids have.”
Among the 54 players are 15 USA Basketball gold medalists, including all 12 members of the 2017 USA U16 National Team that featured Scottie Barnes (University School/West Palm Beach, Fla.); tournament MVP Vern Carey Jr. (University School/Southwest Ranches, Fla.); Jalen Green (San Joaquin Memorial H.S./Fresno, Calif.); R.J. Hampton (Little Elm H.S./Little Elm, Texas); De’Vion Harmon (Guyer H.S./Corinth, Texas); Zion Harmon (Bowling Green H.S./Bowling Green, Ky.); Wendell Moore Jr. (Cox Mill H.S./Charlotte, N.C.); Jeremy Roach (Paul VI Catholic H.S./Leesburg, Va.); Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.); Isaiah Todd (John Marshall H.S./Richmond, Va.); Romeo Weems (New Haven H.S./New Haven, Mich.); and James Wiseman (The Ensworth School/Nashville, Tenn.). LINK U16
Additionally, Romeo Langford (New Albany H.S./New Albany, Ind.); Immanuel Quickley (John Carroll School/Bel Aire, Md.); and Cameron Reddish (Westtown School/Norristown, Pa.); were members of the 2017 USA U19 World Cup Team that finished with a 6-1 record and captured the bronze medal in Cairo, Egypt. LINK U19
Also, Jordan Brown owns gold medals from the 2015 USA U16 and 2016 USA U17 national teams, while Tre Jones (Apple Valley H.S./Saint Paul, Minn.) won gold with the 2015 USA U16s; and Quickly earned gold with the 2016 USA U17 squad.
"Being able to compete against the top guys in the country and being in Argentina in 2015 to compete against top competition for a gold medal at FIBA Americas (U16), there’s nothing I’ve ever been through like that," said Jones, who is following in his borther's (Tyus) footprints and plans to attend Duke next year. "I learned so much just during that experience and from Coach Showalter. I know you can’t take these things for granted. Another day is another opportunity to grow and get better.”
NEW TO THE MIX:
Taking into account USA training camps and minicamps, just 16 players will be taking part in their first USA Basketball experience – Darius Bazley (Princeton H.S./Cincinnati, Ohio); Moses Brown (Archbishop Molloy H.S./Jamaica, N.Y.); Joshua Christopher (Mayfair H.S./Lakewood, Calif.); Anthony Edwards (Holy Spirit Prep School/Atlanta, Ga.); Quentin Grimes (College Park H.S./The Woodlands, Texas); Tyler Herro (Whitnall H.S./Greenfield, Wis.); Jalen Johnson (Sun Prairie H.S./Sun Prairie, Wis.); Keldon Johnson (Oak Hill Academy/Mouth of Wilson, Va.); Nassir Little (Orlando Christian Prep/Jacksonville, Fla.); Ethan Morton (Butler H.S./Butler, Pa.); Reggie Perry (Thomasville H.S./Thomasville, Ga.); Jahvon Quinerly (Hudson Catholic H.S./Hackensack, N.J.); Anfernee Simons (IMG Academy/Altamonte Springs, Fla.); Julian Strawther (Liberty H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.); Emmitt Williams (IMG Academy/Lehigh Acres, Fla.); and Zion Williamson (Spartanburg Day School/Spartanburg, S.C.).
"This is very exciting. All the circuits will come together and have the best players in one place, but there’s nothing like being here with USA Basketball," said first-time USA Basketball participant Williams. "I was shocked when I was first invited, but I’m glad people are noticing my play and I’m ready to have fun and prove I can play with the top guys.”
A total of 38 players are currently ranked in their respective classes by ESPN. Thirteen of ESPN's top 14 ranked players in the class of 2018, including #2 Williamson, #3 Reddish, #4 Bol and #5 Langford, along with seven of ESPN's Top 60 Class of 2019 players, including # 1 ranked Wiseman and #2 Carey, and the top four ranked players of ESPN's top 25 Class of 2020, #1 Todd, #2 Green, #3 Suggs and #4 Hampton, will be showing their talents.