FRISCO, Texas – Arkansas junior guard Ronnie Brewer did not make the final roster for the 2005 USA Men’s Under-21 World Championship Team, USA Basketball announced on Thursday.
Other players who did not make the final cut include guard Aaron Brooks or Oregon, forward Jared Dudley of Boston College and guard Darius Washington Jr. of Memphis.
Brewer was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection as a sophomore and is the only first-team all-conference pick returning this year. He is also the top returning scorer (16.2) and field goal percentage leader (.475) in the league. He was second in the SEC in steals (2.5) and fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.66), led the team with 4.8 rebounds and added 3.4 assists per game.
“Ronnie represented the university and our program very well,” UA head coach Stan Heath says. “He’s disappointed. At the same time, I attended two of the practices along with his father, and we were very impressed with the way he played. When you get down to 16 players, you’re talking about the elite players in the country. Unfortunately, coaches have to make tough decisions and it didn’t fall his way.”
The USA team played its Global Games opener on Thursday and topped Ukraine, 119-64. Brewer had eight points, two rebounds, one assist and two steals in 12 minutes. Brewer had participated in the team trials since July 21 and made the first cut from 20 players to 16.
“I’m really amazed at the humility of the group and the class that they bring,” USA and Saint Joseph’s University (Pa.) head coach Phil Martelli says. “They’ve been well schooled by their college coaches, and I think they’ve all been raised properly because they all talk about being very appreciative of the opportunity of being able to represent their country, to represent their schools, their programs and their families. I think those are good values and it’s a good core to have to start with on any team.
“As a college coach, you don’t normally have to deal with this. But the players who were let go gave us everything they had. There’s nobody being let go who wasn’t a good player or didn’t handle themselves properly. They let their play do the talking. This was a lot of hours. You don’t expect to have sleepless nights in July as a college coach, but I’ve had two on this trip. Both times were as we were approaching the cut-down. I never want to be in a position to take away somebody’s dream or their aspirations. It was not easy; these were not easy choices that we had to make.”
The final roster includes Justin Gray (Wake Forest), Curtis Withers (Charlotte), J.J. Redick (Duke), Mardy Collins (Temple), Glen Davis (LSU), Nick Fazekas (Nevada), Rudy Gay (Connecticut), Taj Gray (Oklahoma), Allan Ray (Villanova), Terrence Roberts (Syracuse), Rajon Rondo (Kentucky) and Marcus Williams (Connecticut).
“He will learn from it,” Heath says. “I thought he played well enough to be on the team. It just didn’t turn out that way.”
Brewer is one of four starters and seven lettermen back from last year’s 18-12 Razorback squad. Joining Brewer at the top of that list are senior guard Jonathon Modica, who is 24th on UA’s all-time scoring list with 1,074 points; senior guard Eric Ferguson, who is ninth on the school’s all-time assists chart with 297 and was fifth in the SEC last year (4.27); 6-10 sophomore forward Darian Townes, who was second on the team in scoring (10.2), rebounding (4.6), shooting percentage (.519), free throw percentage (.698) and blocked shots (1.6); and 7-0 sophomore center Steven Hill, who was second in the SEC with 1.8 blocked shots per game.