DALLAS, Texas – Following six sessions of 2005 USA U21 National Team Trials featuring 20 of the nation’s elite 21-and-unders (born on or after Jan. 1, 1984), USA Basketball has announced 16 athletes remain in the hunt for a spot on the 2005 USA U21 World Championship Team.
Finalists were selected by the USA Basketball Men’s Collegiate Committee, chaired by Syracuse University (N.Y.) head coach Jim Boeheim.
“I was impressed with the players’ approach, the seriousness with which they approached the trials,” said USA and Saint Joseph’s University (Pa.) head coach Phil Martelli. “I was also impressed with their willingness to try and improve. The quality of play has gotten significantly better since the beginning of the trials. We asked them to make it difficult to bring the list (of players) down and they certainly have done that. That was the first stage. And now this stage, getting to the final roster, is going to be very challenging. We’re going to concentrate on guys who are great teammates, as opposed to those who are just great talents.”
Still in the running for one of the coveted roster spots are: Ronnie Brewer (Arkansas / Fayetteville, Ark.); Aaron Brooks (Oregon / Seattle, Wash.); Mardy Collins (Temple / Philadelphia, Pa.); Glen Davis (Louisiana State / Baton Rouge, La.); Jared Dudley (Boston College / San Diego, Calif.); Nick Fazekas (Nevada / Arvada, Colo.); Rudy Gay (Connecticut / Baltimore, Md.); Justin Gray (Wake Forest / Charlotte, N.C.); Taj Gray (Oklahoma / Wichita, Kan.); Allan Ray (Villanova / Bronx, N.Y.); J.J. Redick (Duke / Roanoke, Va.); Terrence Roberts (Syracuse / Jersey City, N.J.); Rajon Rondo (Kentucky / Louisville, Ky.); Darius Washington, Jr. (Memphis / Winter Park, Fla.); Marcus Williams (Connecticut / Los Angeles, Calif.); and Curtis Withers (Charlotte / Charlotte, N.C.).
The 16 team finalists remain in Dallas for the USA’s July 24 – Aug. 1 training camp. The training camp concludes with a pair of daily practices at the Dallas Mavericks practice facility at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on July 25 and July 26. The U.S. squad competes in the July 27-30 Global Games at the Dr. Pepper Star Center. The eventual 12-member USA team will be announced during the training camp.
Following two more days of practices, July 31 and Aug. 1 (sites and times TBD), the American team travels to Argentina for its final practices before tipping off play at the 2005 FIBA U21 World Championship on Aug. 5.
No longer participating in the trials are: Josh Boone (Connecticut / Mt. Airy, Md.), who is suffering back spasms; Shannon Brown (Michigan State / Maywood, Ill.); JamesOn Curry (Oklahoma State / Pleasant Grove, N.C.), who has inflammation in his left iliotibial (IT) band; and C.J. Giles (Kansas / Seattle, Wash.), who has a left hip pointer (contusion). The injured athletes have returned to their respective schools for rehabilitation.
Acting as Martelli’s assistants are collegiate head coaches James ‘Bruiser’ Flint from Drexel University (Pa.) and Dennis Felton from the University of Georgia.
Contested Aug. 5-14 in Cordoba and Mar del Plata, Argentina, the 2005 FIBA Men’s U21 World Championship consists of 12 national teams split into two groups for preliminary round-robin play. The top four teams in each group advance to the medal quarterfinals, while the 5th and 6th place finishing teams in each group compete for 9th-12th place.
The United States (Americas No. 1) competes in Mar del Plata in preliminary round Group B, opening up Aug. 5 against China (Asia No. 2). Facing Lithuania (Europe No. 3) on Aug. 6, the United States goes up against Puerto Rico (Americas No. 2) on Aug. 7, before closing out the first round against Nigeria (Africa No. 1) on Aug. 9 and Slovenia (Europe No. 1) on Aug. 10. Group A, which competes in Cordoba, includes Argentina (Americas No. 3 & host), Australia (Oceania No. 1), Canada (Americas No. 4), Greece (Europe No. 4), Iran (Asia No. 1) and Israel (Europe No. 2).
Initiated in 1993 as the FIBA 22 & Under World Championship, the USA captured gold in the inaugural tournament with a perfect 8-0 record. In 1997, the Americans compiled a 5-2 record and finished fifth. Most recently in 2001, with the event known as the FIBA World Championship For Young Men and Martelli assisting on the sidelines, the USA was impressive, rolling to an unblemished 8-0 mark to capture gold.
The USA men are not only defending FIBA World Champs at the U21 level, but the U.S. squad last summer dominated its FIBA Americas competition in striking gold with a 5-0 record. Overall, in the three previous FIBA World Championships for this age group, the USA has won gold twice and compiled a 22-2 record.