On Tuesday, USA Basketball announced the first 9 members of the annual 10-man team that will face a group of international players April 10 in the 13th annual contest.
“I think these first nine players give this USA team a solid foundation, and we certainly have confidence in our accomplished coaching staff,” said USA National Team Director, Sean Ford.
“The committee has an important decision to make in filling the last roster spot in the next couple of weeks, and we are fortunate to have a lot of talent to choose from in this country. We aren’t looking for the 10 best athletes, we are looking for players that help us achieve balance and depth. This is a very tough game, and we are all determined to come away with a win in 2010.”
There is speculation that the final spot will be a big man to round out the roster.
Guards Brandon Knight (Scout.com No. 2), Kyrie Irving (No. 5), Will Barton (No. 8), Reggie Bullock (No. 11) and Kendall Marshall (No. 21) were selected for the team. Small forward Harrison Barnes (No. 1), power forward Terrence Jones (No. 20), Tobias Harris (No. 9) and Jared Sullinger (No. 3) round out the frontcourt.
Last year, the World team defeated USA 97-86. This time around, Team USA was put together with the expressed goal of regaining its rightful place amongst the elite teams in the world. If there’s a common theme among the 9 selections, it’s success.
According to USA Basketball’s press release, seven of the nine players have signed a National Letter of Intent for 2010-11. Marshall, Barnes and Bullock signed with North Carolina, Barton signed with Memphis, Harris will play at Tennessee, Irving will play at Duke and Sullinger signed with Ohio State. Knight and Jones remain undecided about where they will play college basketball.
Including Barnes, Barton, Bullock, Harris, Irving, Knight and Sullinger, seven USA team members were listed on the prestigious Naismith Trophy Boy’s High School Player of the Year watch list released on Dec. 11.
Three players and have led their high school teams to rankings in the most recent USA Today Super 25 (as of Jan. 12). Irving has led St. Patrick to a USA Today No. 1 national ranking and a No. 1 ranking in the East region; Sullinger has helped Northland to a No. 2 national ranking and a No. 1 Midwest region ranking; and Barnes at Ames High School lists No. 5 nationally and No. 2 in the Midwest region.
Six players led their teams to state championships at the conclusion of the 2008-09 season, including Barnes (ISHAA 4A title), Harris (NYSAISAA 1A title & NY Federation state title), Irving (NJSIAA Tournament of Champions & Non-Public Schools titles), Jones (OSAA 5A title), Knight (FHSAA 3A title) and Sullinger (OHSAA D1 title).
Bob Cimmino of Mount Vernon High in New York and Rich Gray of the St. Louis Eagles traveling team will coach the squad.