Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Wear, Walker Lead USA Over Venezuela; Echenique Barely Misses Double-Double
North Carolina commit Travis Wear tallied 15 points and 7 rebounds and UConn-bound point guard Kemba Walker of Rice added 12 points and 5 assists as the USA U18 National team downed Venezuela, 82-73, in the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Formosa Argentina.
Ryan Kelly of Ravenscroft High in Raleigh, N.C. added 12 points and 10 boards for the USA, and St. Anthony seniorDominic Cheekhad just 2 points that came off a steal and a dunk. Kansas freshman Travis Relefordand Duke commit Mason Plumlee added 8 points apiece.
Rutgers commit Greg Echenique of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark tallied 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting to go with 9 rebounds and 4 blocks for Venezuela.
“We felt since day one that Kemba Walker was the catalyst for our team,” USA and Davidson head coach Bob McKillop said. “He’s the one that started us off, he’s a superb leader. He just gets better and better and makes everyone around him better. I thought Travis Wear and Travis Releford were sensational, as was Ryan Kelly. Ryan Kelly and Travis Wear gave us great interior scoring, added buckets and rebounds. Travis Releford did everything: rebounded, ran the court, defended, got loose balls, made shots inside and was extremely, extremely effective and efficient in running our offense.”
Walker scored the USA’s first 10 points, but the USA found itself trailing early and was down 23-17 with 1:43 to go in the first quarter. Kelly got a bucket and a free throw, while Cheek smothered his man, came up with a steal and a dunk to pull the score to 23-22 at the end of the period.
Rutgers fans should feel good about all the praise for the 6-9 Echenique.
“I was impressed by them, especially Greg (Echenique), I had never seen him play before,” Plumlee said. “They were a lot better than I thought they would be because we handled Mexico and Canada pretty easily in our scrimmages and they’re a lot better than both those teams.”
The USA next faces the Bahamas at 2 p.m. on Tuesday and closes out preliminary round play against Puerto Rico at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. The semifinals will be played July 17 and the gold medal game will be contested July 18.
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(Photo courtesy USA Basketball)
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.