24 of the best 18-and-under basketball players were in Colorado Springs this week for a chance to make the team that will play in the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. The team is selected by the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee, which is chaired by Syracuse coach Jim Boheim and includes Matt Painter (Purdue), Lorenzo Romar (Washington), and Bob McKillop (Davidson). Players must be born on or after January 1st, 1996 to be eligible for the trials.
A number of Arizona’s top recruits, and their head coach, were in attendance for the Training Camp. Coach Miller is an assistant coach for the U18 National Team. He has been watching and evaluating players, but has not worked with them yet. Drills and scrimmages have been run by court coaches Danny Manning (Wake Forest), John Moore (Westmont), and Steve Schmidt (Mott Community College).
Point Guard U was in attendance for all four opening sessions that determine the final roster. Here is an update on how Arizona’s top targets performed:
Stanley Johnson played exactly as you’d expect. It seemed like every player who guarded him was a mismatch, from post players that were too slow to guards that were too small. Johnson showed his full repertoire hitting perimeter shots, attacking the basket, creating steals and fast break opportunities, as well as defending and being a vocal leader. It’s not a question of whether Johnson will make the team, but rather what players best complement his game. Johnson weighed in at 242 pounds, showing yet again that his body is college ready.
Tyler Dorsey showcased his ability to attack the basket, with his best highlight being a two hand put back dunk. Dorsey took some time to find his role on a guard roster that is deep, but has only one star (Tyus Jones). His jump shot was not as consistent as usual, although the format of the scrimmages made it difficult to find a rhythm. Dorsey showed his athleticism around the hoop, rebounding well from his position. But Dorsey was not able to put together a sustained dominant effort. Dorsey measured in as the tallest guard on the roster at 6’4.25”, but with a wingspan of 6’3.5”.
Justin Simon displayed the versatility everyone has been talking about, playing all over the court and defending a variety of players. Simon wasn’t aggressively looking for his shot, and took some time to adjust to the level of competition. Once Simon started attacking, he was able to get above the rim with ease, but was not always able to finish. Simon made most of his contributions off the ball, whether creating deflections or stealing rebounds. Simon also measured at 6’4.25” but with a wingspan of 6’11.25”, which has Wildcat fans dreaming of his potential on the wing.
Isaiah Briscoe used his new frame to play physical and push everything towards the basket. Weighing in at 219 pounds, Briscoe has slimmed down and become much stronger, but still has 20 pounds over the next biggest guard. Because of the talent level of his teammates, Briscoe showed his ability to pass more often than in AAU play. Briscoe used his strength to finish at the rim, often times absorbing contact. Briscoe was also vocal on the court and showed leadership ability, particularly when his team was down.
Allonzo Trier was recently offered by Coach Miller and wasted no time showing his scoring ability in front of him. Known for being able to score from anywhere on the court, Trier showed the ability to get around defenders and finish quickly at the rim. Trier looks to attack the basket aggressively every time he touches the ball. Trier also showed his willingness to pull up when open. Last year Trier shot 67% from inside the arc and 94% from the free throw line. He was able to maintain that efficiency, making use of his opportunities. Trier’s highlight of the camp was a powerful dunk over a taller player.
Chase Jeter continued to impress, despite being the youngest player in attendance. Jeter has continued to grow and measured in as the fourth tallest player at the camp at 6’9.75”. He showed strength on the low block as well as a soft touch on his jumper. But the most noticeable quality was how vocal he was, both on and off the court. Jeter carries himself like a leader and could make the final roster because of his intangibles, despite his age. Pairing Jeter with one of the true centers would make for a very tall front court.
Stephen Zimmerman played well, while usually matched up against Myles Turner or Thomas Welch. Zimmerman has gotten stronger, weighing in at 241 pounds. Zimmerman was measured at 6’10” but had the longest wingspan at 7’2.75”. Zimmerman showed the soft shooting touch that he is known for, and was able to get up and down the court in transition. Zimmerman did not get many chances to score with his back to the basket, but was able to get points by converting drop off passes or putbacks. Zimmerman’s variety of skills could give the USA coaches a lot of flexibility in the more open international game.
Outside of veterans Stanley Johnson, Justice Winslow, and Tyus Jones, the rest of the roster seems up for grabs as few players were able to separate themselves from the rest. The system coach Donovan wants to run, as as well as the ability to play with Johnson, Winslow, and Jones, will likely be the determining factors.