Thomas Bryant is a 6-foot-9 forward from Rochester (N.Y.) Bishop Kearney who is one of 31 of the nation’s top 16-and-under players competing this weekend in Colorado Springs with the 2013-14 USA Basketball Men’s Developmental National Team.
Twelve players will get the opportunity to play for head coach Don Showalter and USA Basketball in the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Maldonado, Uruguay.
“It feels great,” Bryant, 15, told SNY.tv by phone. “It’s just an honor to come here and play against the top-ranked players in your class. It’s great competition. You just have to go out there and show what you’re made of.”
During Thursday night’s workout, Bryant, the Rivals No. 14 prospect in the Class of 2015, was charged with guarding No. 1-ranked Ivan Rabb of Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, No. 4 Diamond Stone of Milwaukee Dominican and No. 39 Jesse Govan of Long Island St. Mary’s.
“It was a difficult job,” Bryant said. “Those two [Rabb and Stone] are really great players in the post, very physical and they’re great all-around players.”
In terms of recruiting, Bryant said the schools recruiting him the hardest are Syracuse, North Carolina, Villanova, West Virginia, Arizona, Florida, Florida State and Miami, among others.
Because he grew up near Syracuse, Bryant said he’s always considered playing for the Orange.
“They’re always a team I’ve watched because they were close by home,” he said. “I’ve always watched the players on their team so it wasn’t exactly a dream school, it was just a team that I would watch carefully. It was a close team and they were pretty good, so I watched them.”
Outside of Syracuse, Bryant said he’s wide open.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “There’s so many choices out here where it’s filling my mind up, too. I don’t know.”
For now, his immediate goal is to make this 12-man roster.
“It would mean the world to me,” he said. “It’s a dream that’s coming true at a younger age. Never in a million years would I have dreamed that I would be able to get on a USA squad at the age of 15.
“I thought this would come I was ever to make it to the NBA.”
Bryant said watching players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony win gold with the senior National Team has inspired a younger generation.
“Yes, it inspires me a lot because those are my favorite players, I look up to them as sports figures and role models,” he said. “To see them do that, it makes me strive even more when I want to play USA Basketball.”
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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.