U.S. U17s Advance to Gold Medal Game Despite Injuries
Despite injuries to Jabari Parker and Dakari Johnson, the U.S. U17 team beat Spain, 95-66, to advance to the gold medal game at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship on Saturday night in Kaunas, Lithuania.
Justise Winslow, a 6-foot-6, 2014 forward from the St. John’s School in Houston, led the way with17 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
Also contributing double-digit scoring were Conner Frankamp (Wichita North H.S. / Wichita, Kan.) with 13; Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S. / Fullerton, Calif.) and Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S. / Chicago, Ill.), who played limited minutes after being whistled for his third foul less than three minutes into the contest, each chipped in 12 points; while Johnathan Williams (Southwind H.S. / Memphis, Tenn.) scored 10.
The USA will face Australia (6-1) in the July 8 gold medal game (1:30 p.m. EDT).
“I thought Spain was very, very prepared for us,” U.S. head coach Don Showalter said.
“They did a lot of very interesting things to us defensively and kind of threw us off a little bit. Of course without Jabari Parker playing today, we kept him out for precautionary reasons, then you have Jahlil Okafor in foul trouble and Dakari Johnson, who will likely not play in the rest of the tournament, I thought our kids played through some adversity tonight. We really showed what kind of team we are, especially in the second half.”
Johnson, a 6-10 2014 big man from Montverde (Fla.) Academy, has a strained right groin but his mother, Makini Campbell, told SNY.tv he is “fine” and “day-to-day.”
The No. 1 player in the Class of 2013, Parker has a sore foot.
“Words can’t really describe how proud I am of this group of kids,” Showalter said. “First, we’re without Aaron Gordon. Then, we’re without Jabari Parker. Those are arguably two of the best players in the country. Then you have Dakari Johnson, a seven-footer, who can’t play and Jahlil Okafor gets into foul trouble. What a rallying point for our kids. I think this game really showed it wasn’t about any individual; it was all about ‘we.’
“When you wear that USA across your chest, these kids really buy into that. They don’t really care who gets the points and I think you especially saw that in the second half today.
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.