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.
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Just because Billy Donovan is the head coach of the U.S. U19 team doesn’t mean Michael Frazier will automatically make the final cut.
And nobody knows that better than Frazier himself.
“I just want to come out here and just play and show my ability,” Frazier, a 6-foot-4 rising sophomore guard at Florida, told SNY.tv by phone from training in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“People might say that he’s the coach, so I’m automatically on the team. That’s not the case because there’s a lot of guys out here that’s trying to get the spot I’m trying to get.”
Donovan, who led the Gators to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2006-7, will ultimately cut the 26-man roster to 12 for the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague June 27-July 7.
Assisting Donovan as coaches are VCU’s Shaka Smart and Virginia’s Tony Bennett.
As far as backcourt players, Frazier is battling with some big-time college names to make the roster.
Also trying out are Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State, who could have been a lottery pick had he entered the NBA Draft, Rasheed Sulaimon of Duke, Bryce Alford of UCLA, Kris Dunn of Providence and Rodney Purvis of UConn, among others.
“I’m playing against the best competition in the country at my age group, so I think it’s really going to help me next year,” said Frazier, who averaged 5.6 points and 3.1 rebounds for the Gators last season.
Frazier’s role at Florida figures to expand next season.
Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario have graduated, and Scottie Wilbekin was recently suspended for a violation of team rules.
Frazier will welcome in his former Montverde (FL) Academy teammate Kasey Hill, one of the top incoming point guards, and Rutgers transfer Eli Carter, who hopes to land a waiver to play immediately.
“I guess we’ll figure that out when the season gets here,” Frazier said. “But right now I’m just focusing on trying to make the team and trying to win a gold medal.”
Frazier knows Hill from his time at Montverde and believes he’s as good as any incoming floor general in the nation.
“He’s a competitor and I’m excited to see how he fits into our system, so I think it’s going to be fun,” Frazier said.
If Frazier is chosen for the U19 team, it could be a life-changing experience.
“Oh man, it would be a great honor to represent my country,” he said. “And I can’t express how happy I would be if I make the team.”
Like his contemporaries, Frazier sees Olympians like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, and dreams of following in their footsteps.
“Oh yeah, I know that for every guy here, their dream is to make the Olympic team and be considered one of the best players in the world,” he said, “so it’s a great opportunity. I’m just happy to be here and hopefully I can make the team.”
**For more stories on the USA U19 & U16 teams, click here.
Photo: Getty Images
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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 and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, 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.