2019 USA Men’s U19 National Team Training Camp Court Coaches Announced
Six successful coaches will be on hand to help the USA basketball Men’s U19 National Team coaching staff at training camp, including Rodney Billups (University of Denver), Jeff Britt (Bethel University, Tenn.), Jeff Culver (University of Colorado Colorado Springs), Aaron Gray (former NBA athlete) and Chris Holtmann (Ohio State University) and Hank Plona (Indian Hills Community College)
The 2019 USA Basketball Men’s U19 National Team training camp, which will be used to select the roster for the 2019 USA Men’s U19 National Team, will take place June 15-17 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Bruce Weber (Kansas State University) is head coach of the 2019 USA Men’s U19 National Team, and Mike Hopkins (University of Washington) and LeVelle Moton (North Carolina Central University) are assistant coaches.
Billups will undertake his first USA Basketball coaching assignment and enter his fourth season (2016-17 to present) as head coach at University of Denver. Billups’ 31 career wins are the most by any coach through the first two seasons since the program turned Division I in 1998. As a high schooler, Billups competed in the 1999 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival and won a bronze medal with the North Team.
“This is a dream of mine to work with USA Basketball,” Billups said. “I wanted so badly to play and represent my country with USA Basketball but now to have the opportunity to coach with the wonderful staff and work with incredible student athletes. I am ecstatic for the opportunity. It is always good to pour into young people the knowledge and experience that I have gained throughout my career. It also is an opportunity for me to learn from a very talented and successful group of coaches.”
In the 2017-18 season the Pioneers finished 10-4 at home, their best home record for the first time since 2012-13. Billups has guided DU to an average 75.8 points per game, the most the program has had since becoming Division I in 1998.
Prior to coaching at DU, Billups spent a total of six seasons at University of Colorado, two seasons as the director of basketball operations (2010-11 to 2011-12) and four as an assistant coach (2012-13 to 2015-16).
The Denver native was a standout of University of Denver from 2002-03 to 2004-05. During his senior season, he averaged 10.2 points, 6.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds. He led the Sun Belt Conference in assists and ranked No. 17 nationally in assists. He also helped the Pioneers to 20 wins, a National Invitation Tournament berth and was named to the All-SBC third team.
Britt also will undertake his first USA Basketball coaching assignment and will enter his 20th season as head coach at Bethel University (2000-01 to present) where he has compiled a 428-294 (.593) overall record.
“It is a tremendous honor,” Britt said. “I’m very excited about it. It’s hard to believe to be honest with you. It’s going to be a great experience and I’m really looking forward to doing my best and to offer what I can.”
In 2018-19, the Wildcats finished 25-9 and advanced to the Division I NAIA Championship, their second appearance in program history.
Britt has led Bethel to ten 20 plus win seasons and currently ranks 10th among active National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics coaches for most wins. Britt has received coach of the year honors three times in 1996, 2002 and 2013. He led the Wildcats to the 2002 East Region Tournament Championship, a 2005 NAIA II Sweet Sixteen Tournament appearance and a 2015 NAIA Division I National Tournament appearance.
Prior to coaching at Bethel, Britt was the head coach at Saint Catharine College in Springfield, Kentucky for five seasons (1995-96 to 1999-00) where his teams posted an overall record of 108-43 (.715), the best in school history.
This will be Culver’s third USA Basketball assignment after previously serving as the lead coach for the class of 2020 athletes at the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team April training camp at the NCAA Final Four and as a court coach at the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team October Minicamp.
“I am absolutely thrilled for the opportunity to work with USA Basketball again,” Culver said. “Coaching some of the nation’s elite basketball players alongside some of the best coaches from around the country has been a highlight of my career.”
Culver is entering his eighth season
In 2018-19, he led the Mountain Lions to a 17-12 record and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal round.
Culver also led UCCS to back to back NCAA DII postseasons in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons and to the RMAC Tournament Championship title in 2014-15.
Prior to coaching at UCCS, Culver was the head coach at Johnson & Wales University for seven seasons (2005-06 to 2011-12). He led Johnson & Wales to three Association of Independent Institutions championships and three appearances in the NAIA Division II National Tournament. He was the A.I.I. Coach of the Year three times and the first coach in program history to earn conference coach of the year honors in any sport at UCCS.
This will be Gray’s third USA Basketball coaching assignment after serving as a court coach at the 2019 USA Men’s Junior National Team April training camp at the NCAA Men’s Final Four and as a court coach for the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team October Minicamp.
“To me, representing team USA is the ultimate honor,” Gray said. “We are bringing the top high school kids in the country and exposing them to the USA culture that has already proven to win gold medals. I’m really excited to work with Coach Weber and his staff and I hope my experience as a high-level college and NBA player can add something to help these kids both on and off the court.”
Gray played in the NBA for seven seasons (2007-08 to 2013-14) for four including the Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Hornets, Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings. He retired officially in 2015 after being diagnosed with a heart condition and worked as an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons from 2015-16 to 2017-18.
Gray attended University of Pittsburgh from 2003-04 to 2006-07 and was named an Associated Press Third Team All-American after helping lead Pitt to the 2007 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
Holtmann will undertake his first USA Basketball assignment and will enter his third season as the head coach for Ohio State University. In his eight seasons as a head coach, he has compiled a 159-109 (.593) overall record.
“Representing USA Basketball and working with some of our country’s best young players is an honor and privilege,” Holtmann said. “USA Basketball has assembled a tremendous coaching staff and I look forward to working alongside them and helping in any way.”
In 2018-19, the Buckeyes finished 20-15, marking the sixth-consecutive season teams under Holtmann have won 20 or more games.
In his 2017-18 debut season at Ohio State, Holtmann was named 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading the Buckeyes to a 25-9 overall record, a No. 2 finish in the Big Ten regular season standings and a second round appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to OSU, Holtmann was the head coach at Butler University from 2014-15 to 2016-17, and Gardner-Webb University from 2010-11 to 2012-13. While at Butler, Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year in 2017 and led Butler to the NCAA Tournament all three seasons.
Plona also will undertake his first USA Basketball assignment and will enter his fifth season as head coach at Indian Hills Community College (2015-16 to present) where he has an overall record of 116-18 (.866).
“It is quite an honor to be asked to be one of the court coaches for the Men’s U19 National Team,” Plona said. “Anytime you are asked to represent your country in any way it is a privilege to be able to do so. I am excited about being around an extremely talented group of players and coaches and to be able to help in any way that I can.”
In 2018-19, Indian Hills finished 27-7 and won its fourth straight conference regular-season championship under Plona and qualified for its fourth consecutive NJCAA national tournament appearance.
Plona has received coach of the year honors all four seasons at Indian Hills and has coached five All-Americans and 19 All-Region performers. Prior to IHCC, Plona was the assistant coach at South Plains College from 2011-12 to 2014-15 where he helped guide the team to three national tournament appearances and a national title with an undefeated record in 2011-12.
The USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee, which is responsible for selecting athletes and coaches for the USA Men’s U19 training camp, is chaired by Matt Painter (Purdue) and includes Shane Battier as the athletic representative; and collegiate head coaches Tony Bennett (Virginia), Ed Cooley (Providence) and Sean Miller (Arizona) as NCAA representatives.