The USA roster that will compete in the under 19 world championships was announced today. CBS reports that the team has been cut down to 12 players and that the roster will look like this:
Michael Frazier (Florida)
Aaron Gordon (Arizona)
Jerami Grant (Syracuse)
Montrezl Harrell (Louisville)
Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young High in Chicago)
Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette)
Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)
Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee)
Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke)
Mike Tobey (Virginia)
Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington)
Justise Winslow (St. John’s High in Houston)
Team USA’s coach, Billy Donovan who also coaches Florida, said that it was a hard task to bring it down to only 12 players, “Getting down to 12 is the real hard part because in a lot of respects we … could have kept 14-15.”
An important player to mention is Marcus Smart of Oklohoma State. The young point guard is an elite NBA prospect who could have gone first overall had he declared for the draft. He surprised a lot of people in April when he opted to return to school instead of entering the NBA draft. Smart will be counted on to provide some veteran leadership and to be the team’s best player.
A few other worthwile mentions are high schoolers Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow. Okafor is largely regarded as the number one prospect in the 2014 recruiting class. This tournament will allow him to gain further exposure and play in pressure situations against some top competition. He is an athletic and quick forward who gets most of his points at the rim and is able to bring some excitement with his showstopping dunks.
As for Winslow, he is an athletic shooting guard with a lot of promise. Since he is younger than Okafor, he is the youngest player on this under 19 team. His strengths are in cutting to the net, his good stroke from deep and his ability to play the passing lanes. Out of all the players here, I think that he has the most to gain from this experience as it will allow him to play alongside Smart. Hopefully Winslow plans on soaking up as much knowledge from Smart as he can so he can develop himself into a stronger combo guard for his future.
The tournament will be played in the Czech Republic and Team USA will fly out there on saturday. The Under 19 championships start on Monday when team USA will begin its defense of last year’s gold medal.