Commentary

USA's U17 team stacked with talent

Updated: September 29, 2009, 1:46 PM ET
By Christopher Lawlor | ESPN.com

The USA Men's Developmental National Team, featuring the nation's elite juniors and sophomores, is headed to a refresher course next month.

[+] EnlargeMichael Gilchrist
Andrew Shurtleff for ESPN.comMichael Gilchrist leads a star-studded U17 team.

The minicamp, scheduled for Oct. 9-11, in Colorado Springs, Colo., includes 21 ranked recruits according to ESPN.com's Scouts Inc.

Headlining the camp are 12 members of the gold-medal-winning FIBA Americas U16 team and the top-ranked junior, 6-foot-7 forward Michael Gilchrist of St. Patrick High in Elizabeth, N.J. Gilchrist did not play in Argentina because of school commitments.

Head coach Don Showalter, who guided the U16 team in June to gold in Mendoza, Argentina, is a proponent of the minicamp. The four sessions over the Columbus Day weekend at the U.S. Olympic Training Center will prepare players for next summer's FIBA U17 World Championship in Hamburg, Germany.

"For one thing, it's important to get the players together as a national team and I think the other thing is to relay a message as to how challenging next summer's FIBA world championship [will be]," said Showalter, who coaches Mid-Prairie High School (Wellman, Iowa). "This sends a message to our kids that we need to do some serious preparation now in order to be ready for that tournament."

The 12 members from the U16 team will have more insight: 6-6 Justin Anderson, Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.); 6-3 Brad Beal, Chaminade (St. Louis), 6-1 Quinn Cook of DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), 6-10 Andre Drummond, St. Thomas More (Oakdale, Conn.); 6-2 Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, N.J.); 6-5 Brandan Kearney, Southeastern (Detroit); 6-8 James McAdoo, Norfolk (Va.) Christian; 6-10 Johnny O'Bryant, East Side (Cleveland, Miss.); 6-8 Tony Parker, Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.); 6-2 Chasson Randle, Rock Island (Ill.); 6-3 L.J. Rose, Second Baptist School (Houston); and 6-8 Adonis Thomas, Melrose (Memphis).

"We'll concentrate on offense and team play," Showalter said. "We'll be playing 2-on-2, 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 and going over strategy. Last summer we had problems with some of the international rules. We'll emphasize utilizing a 24-second shot clock and understanding how to call timeouts."

According to FIBA rules, timeouts must be called by the coach at the scorer's table. Teams have only two timeouts per half; they do not carry over to the second half or overtime.

"Understanding the [international] rules are huge," Showalter said.

Showalter will be assisted again by Herman Harried of Lake Clifton (Baltimore) and Kevin Sutton of Montverde (Fla.) Academy.

"I think after going through our training camp and the tournament in Argentina, our coaching staff found out some things that will help us in our preparation. We will do a little bit of evaluation, but the minicamp will be about getting our team together and looking to improve."

After a solid showing last summer, the Americans should be the overwhelming favorite to bring home gold. At the FIBA Americas tournament last summer, the Americans won all five games, by an average of nearly 34 points, while netting 113 points per game. The USA topped 12 of 19 statistical categories among the eight nations.

That won't be happening in July at the 12-nation tournament, said Showalter.

"Those statistics were last summer," he said. "They won't nearly be the same."

The 12 nations will be divided into two six-team pools, with round-robin play determining the final eight, who will compete for medals.

Last spring's pool of 21 players is deep. Tony Wroten Jr., a 6-5 junior guard from Garfield (Seattle), will attend the camp but won't participate after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament playing football earlier this month. He likely will miss the upcoming high school season, but should be ready for tryouts in early June.

Others attending include: 6-6 Kyle Anderson, Paterson (N.J.) Catholic; 6-11 K.C. Caudill, Brea-Olinda (Calif.); 6-9 Angelo Chol, Hoover (San Diego); 6-8 Perry Ellis, Wichita (Kan.) Heights; 6-9 Norvel Pelle, Price (Los Angeles); 6-2 Marquis Teague, Pike (Indianapolis); and 6-4 Kevin Ware, Rockdale County (Conyers, Ga.).

"By bringing in the entire player pool, we'll see who made improvements over the summer," Showalter said.

Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA Today, where he was the head preps writer responsible for national high school rankings in football, baseball, and boys' and girls' basketball. He also worked for Scholastic Coach magazine, for which he ran the Gatorade National Player of the Year program for nine years. Lawlor, a New Jersey resident, grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University.

Christopher Lawlor

High School Basketball
Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA TODAY, where he was the head preps writer responsible for national high school rankings in football, baseball and boys and girls basketball. He also ran the Gatorade national player of the year program for nine years.