July 21, 2004
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - After training since July 16, USA Basketball announced today that 13 candidates remain - including Gonzaga University sohomore Adam Morrison - in the mix for the 12-member 2004 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Team.
The finalists for the USA Basketball 20-and-under squad will continue training at the New Jersey Nets practice facility in East Rutherford through July 23 in hopes of making the final 12-member squad. The U.S. team will compete July 28-Aug. 1 in Halifax, Canada, in the FIBA Americas World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament.
Chaired by former University of Virginia Athletic Director Terry Holland, the USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee selected the finalists and will make the final roster determinations. Athletes eligible for selection to this age-based team include any male who is a U.S. citizen and is 20-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1984).
"I think we'll have a good team," said USA and University of Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson. "Our emphasis has been on kids sacrificing and being a part of something that's bigger than themselves. With the kids that we have, they've worked hard from day one and bought into what we've asked them to do. We have a little bit of everything. With Chris Paul and Mustafa Shakur we have some versatility at the point guard. With Bracey Wright and Hassan Adams, Justin Gray and Shannon Brown we have some versatility at our wings and shooting guard positions. We're strong up front with Charlie (Villanueva), Sean (May), Curtis (Withers), and P.J. Tucker, David Padgett and Morrison will give us energy off the bench. With one more cut, a lot will depend on Eric Williams and his health. I like where our team is right now and that's why these next three or four days are going to be very important."
The remaining 12 USA Young Men Team finalists in addition to Morrison include: Hassan Adams (Arizona / Los Angeles, Calif.); Shannon Brown (Michigan State / Maywood, Ill.); Justin Gray (Wake Forest / Charlotte, N.C.); Sean May (North Carolina / Bloomington, Ind.); David Padgett (*Louisville / Reno, Nev.); Chris Paul (Wake Forest / Lewisville, N.C.); Mustafa Shakur (Arizona / Philadelphia, Pa.); P.J. Tucker (Texas / Raleigh, N.C.); Charlie Villanueva (Connecticut / Brooklyn, N.Y.); Eric Williams (Wake Forest / Wake Forest, N.C.); Curtis Withers (Charlotte / Charlotte, N.C.) and Bracey Wright (Indiana / The Colony, Texas).
The three players who did not make the finalists roster include Aaron Brooks (Oregon / Seattle, Wash.); Rashad McCants (North Carolina / Asheville, N.C.) and Curtis Sumpter (Villanova / Brooklyn, N.Y.).
Sampson is being assisted on the sidelines by collegiate head coaches Tom Crean of Marquette University (Wis.) and Dan Monson of the University of Minnesota.
USA team finalists will remain in New Jersey for the team's training camp, which will feature a practice at 5 p.m. (all times EST) Wednesday, followed by a 9 a.m. session on Thursday at the New Jersey Nets practice facility in East Rutherford. The eventual team will be finalized sometime prior to the USA's final New Jersey practice at 10 a.m. on Friday.
Following a 1 p.m. practice session on July 24 at Harbour Station in Saint John, Canada, the U.S. will take on Canada's Young Men's National Team on July 25 in a 2:00 p.m. exhibition game at Harbour Station. Tickets for the exhibition game can be purchased at the Harbour Station box office or by calling 800-267-2800 or 506-657-1234 in Canada.
The young American squad will get in a final pair of practices in Halifax on July 26 and 27 before tipping off play at the 2004 FIBA Americas World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament on July 28 at the Halifax Metro Center. The U.S. will compete against seven other teams from the Americas for one of the three Americas Zone qualifying berths for the 2005 FIBA World Championships For Young Men, which will be hosted next summer by Argentina.
Featuring eight nations divided into two groups of four, the United States has been placed in Group B along with Brazil, Puerto Rico and Venezuela; while Group A consists of Argentina, Bahamas, Canada and the Dominican Republic. The U.S., which will compete at 6 p.m. in each of its three preliminary round games, opens play against Venezuela on July 28. After facing Brazil on July 29 the USA will close out preliminary play against Puerto Rico on July 30. The top two finishing teams in each group will advance to the July 31 semifinals and the gold medal will be contested Aug. 1. Tickets for the World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament can be purchased at the Halifax Metro Center box office or by calling the Metro Center box office at 902-451-1221.
"Two years ago Venezuela beat us (in the FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifying Tournament) in Venezuela," said Sampson. "We made sure our kids were aware of that. We actually watched some of the game film yesterday with our team. We're going to be ready to play that game. We're looking forward to reestablishing some things. The countries that we're playing, Venezuela, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Argentina, these teams have come so far so fast. I've been really impressed with the level of play they've been able to play at. Their guards, their forwards, their centers, they're all versatile. The thing that makes them so tough is that they can all play more than one position. It creates match-up problems for us. We're going to have to find a way to use our quickness and our athleticism to our advantage not to theirs."
The World Championship For Young Men and its zone qualifying tournaments are held every four years. Originally held in 1993 and known as the FIBA 22 And Under World Championship, it was designed for men 22-years-old or younger. FIBA lowered the age eligibility to 21-years-old or younger in December 1998 and changed the competition name to the World Championship For Young Men. The USA has qualified for all three previous World Championship For Young Men tournaments and has compiled a 22-2 overall record while winning gold medals in 1993 and 2001. United States squads have also compiled a 15-2 win-loss record in the three Young Men Qualifiers, winning gold in 1996 and silver in 2000 and 1993.