July 24, 2004
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Featuring a talent-stocked roster, the 12-member 2004 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Team was announced today by USA Basketball, a squad that includes Gonzaga University sophomore Adam Morrison.
Finalists for the team have trained in New Jersey since July 16 in hopes of making the USA Basketball 20-and-under squad, which will compete in the 2004 FIBA Americas World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament July 28 - Aug. 1. The team will get an early test as it takes on Canada's Young Men's National Team at 2 p.m. EST Sunday in an exhibition contest in Saint John, Canada, before tipping off tournament play against Venezuela July 28 in Halifax, Canada.
"This team's greatest improvement will be after our exhibition game," said USA and University of Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson. "We've worked in practice. We haven't worked against another team. You can get your stuff in during practice, but you fix it during games. One of my favorite sayings is, "hat you don't know, you don't know.' And there's a lot I don't know about this team. But playing against Canada on Sunday and scrimmaging against Brazil on Monday will be huge for us.
"Eric Williams getting sick has affected our last cuts. With Curtis Sumpter, we felt like we had to have a little more size. That's really what it came down to. The difficult cut was Shannon (Brown) because he did such a great job from day one until today. And what it came down to was not having Eric on the team. We felt that if he wasn't going to make it, we need to replace him with more size. The one position we felt we could maybe sacrifice was our wings.
"We'll go with these 12, I think we've made good decisions thus far. This team is coming together. We're going to go up to Canada and have fun."
In addition to Morrison, the final 12-member 2004 USA Young Men's National Team includes: Hassan Adams (Arizona / Los Angeles, Calif.); 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.); Curtis Sumpter (Villanova / Brooklyn, N.Y.); P.J. Tucker (Texas / Raleigh, N.C.); Charlie Villanueva (Connecticut / Brooklyn, N.Y.);Curtis Withers (Charlotte / Charlotte, N.C.) and Bracey Wright (Indiana / The Colony, Texas).
Morrison, a graduate of Spokane's Mead High, is looking forward to the competition.
"It's good. I feel bad for the guys who didn't m0ake it because they played their butts off all week. I wish them the best of luck next season. Hopefully we'll be able to go out and win the gold," Morrison said when asked about representing his country."
Morrison, who averaged 11.4 ppg as a freshman last season for the Bulldogs, thinks his biggest contribution will be on offense.
"I think I can bring some offense, even though I didn't play very well in the Trials. I'm a big man and a two-guard at the same time, I can play both," he said.
Sumpter, who was cut on July 21, was asked to return for Friday morning's practice after it was determined that Eric Williams (Wake Forest / Wake Forest, N.C.), who was sick and missed practice beginning on July 18, was unable to make the team. Sumpter returned to New Jersey with no guarantee he would be named to the squad.
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 and former Gonzaga head coach.
Continuing its training in Saint John, Canada, on Saturday, the U.S. will take on Canada's Young Men's National Team on Sunday in an exhibition game at Harbour Station in Saint John. 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 scrimmage Brazil twice in Halifax, Canada, on Monday and Tuesday, before tipping off play at the 2004 FIBA Americas World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament on Wednesday 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 competition schedule, which will be released following the July 20 tournament draw, includes a preliminary round with round-robin play between teams in each group July 28-30. 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.
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.
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).