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.
Uncommitted 2013 forward Austin Nichols and North Carolina-bound big man Joel James were the last two cuts as USA Basketball finalized its 12-man roster for the U18 team Saturday night.
“I thought everybody that was invited to try out was obviously a high-level player,” Shaka Smart, an assistant to head coach Billy Donovan with the U18s and the head coach at VCU, told SNY.tv Saturday afternoon by phone from Colorado Springs, Colo.
“There were 23 guys and we had to get it down to 12. There’s some really good players that obviously weren’t going to be a part of the team.”
Before the final cuts were announced, the 6-10 James told USA Basketball: “Like they said in the team meeting, ‘There are thousands of players in this country and only 23 were selected to even come to this training camp and only 12 make the team.’ You’ve got to be one of the elite players in the country to be able to represent a USA team. It’s great to even be in this atmosphere right now. It’s pretty cool.”
The final roster features: Nate Britt Jr. (Gonzaga H.S., D.C./Upper Marlboro, Md.); Sam Dekker (Sheboygan Lutheran H.S./Sheboygan, Wis.); Shaq Goodwin (Southwest DeKalb H.S./Decatur, Ga.); Jerami Grant (DeMatha Catholic/Bowie, Md.); Montrezl Harrell (Hargrave Military Academy/Tarboro, N.C.); Jake Layman (King Phillip Regional H.S./Wrentham, Mass.); Rodney Purvis (Upper Room Christian/Raleigh, N.C.); Julius Randle (Prestonwood Christian Academy/ McKinney, Texas); James Robinson (DeMatha Catholic H.S./Mitchellville, Md.); Marcus Smart (Marcus H.S./Flower Mound, Texas); Jarnell Stokes (Memphis, Tenn.); and Rasheed Sulaimon (Strake Jesuit College Prep/Houston, Texas).
As reported here yesterday, the 6-9 Randle and the 6-3 Oklahoma State-bound Smart have been especially impressive.
The U.S. team will continue to train through June 11 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and will depart June 12 for the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Brazil.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.