Justin Lewis Hopes Fifth USA Basketball Experience is Charmed
Justin Lewis has been to four USA Basketball camps and tried to make two rosters.
He is 0-for-2, but undeterred.
So why, as he prepares for the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team October Minicamp, which is taking place Oct. 5-7 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, does he keep coming back?
It is simple.
“I want to play with the USA team,” said Lewis, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound junior power forward for Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. “That’s why I keep coming, because I’m not going to stop until I make that team.”
Lewis is one of 23 players from the Class of 2020 among the 86 athletes expected at the USA Basketball minicamp. Many of the participants were on the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Cup Team this past summer, which won a gold medal in June. Lewis was in training camp for that USA U17 World Cup Team, as well as the 2917 USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team training camp a year ago. It might have been bad luck more than anything that kept Lewis off the U16 team, as he missed his flight and was late to camp. However, he thought he had a good shot at making the World Cup team this summer.
“The last time, I thought everything was there, I just didn’t get picked,” Lewis said.
There is no selection going on at this weekend’s minicamp. Instead, it will deal with several off-court aspects as well as basketball instruction. USA Basketball — in conjunction with the NBA, the National Basketball Players Association and the NCAA — has added to its Men’s Junior National Team program by offering health and wellness tips and developing life skills. The life skills include the use of social media, building healthy relationships, navigating the recruiting process and character development. There also is a set of seminars for parents.
“It’s kinda new, we didn’t do that the past couple years, but I’m ready for it,” said Lewis, who said he is interested in knowing more about the NCAA’s recent announcement that allows NBA agents to act as advisors to players considered as an “elite senior prospect.”
Lewis, a four-star recruit with offers from Georgetown, Maryland, Florida and others, has worked on his defense and endurance to improve his game in an effort to eventually make a USA Basketball roster.
“Defending (all positions), my intensity on defense and just keeping a positive attitude throughout the whole game, try to lift up my teammates and just playing hard,” Lewis said. “They don’t care about scoring, they just want you to play hard.”
As a sophomore, Lewis averaged 17.0 points and 11.6 rebounds per game for Poly, capped by a 20-point, 12-rebound effort in the Engineers’ 49-47 Maryland Class 3A state title game win over Milford Mills. He has had the aforementioned major college offers rolling in, but he won’t make a college decision until the, “beginning of my senior year.”
In the meantime, he hopes to help raise the profile of Poly, which has won two straight state titles. The Engineers face several national powers this season.
“This year, we play a lot of national teams, so just getting ranked in the national Top 25, No. 1 in everything,” Lewis said of his goals for the upcoming season.
Another goal is to finally put on a USA Basketball jersey.
“Having that stripe across your chest,” Lewis said of what motivates him.
And when it finally happens?
“It’s going to feel good,” he said. “It’s going to be a stress-reliever."