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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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Thursday / March 30.
  • Kentucky Commit Alexander Will ‘Definitely Play’ for Canada at the U19 World Championship if Calipari Coaches the U.S.

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    Kentucky-bound guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was on the fence about playing in the FIBA U19 World Championship this summer because he didn’t want it to interfere with his preparation entering college.

    But now that his future college coach, John Calipari, will reportedly coach the United States at the event set for July 1-9 in Cairo, Egypt, as ESPN reported, it may trigger Alexander to go for it with Canada. (A UK spokesman said the school had no comment on the ESPN report.)

    “I think that changes a lot of things because we thought the [Kentucky] guys were going to be going to school June 5th,” Dwayne Washington, Alexander’s AAU coach with UPlay Canada, said Thursday on The 4 Quarters Podcast. “But now since Cal’s going to be over there, Shai will definitely be over there.”

    A year ago, Gilgeous-Alexander played for the Canadian U18 team in the FIBA Americas Championship in Chile. Despite 25 points from Virginia Tech-bound Nickeil Alexander-Walker, that team lost to the U.S., 99-84, in the gold medal game on July 23.

    Now the U.S. and Canada could meet in the U19s this summer.

    “It’s very interesting, I think that Canada has a chance and they could see the U.S. in the finals,” Washington said.

    Washington said Alexander’s mindset coming into Kentucky “is to make sure, similar to a quarterback, that he understands all the nuances of what the offense and defense entails being one of the leaders in the backcourt. He just wants to make sure that he can actually lead, but to make sure you can lead you have to know what you’re doing.

    “This is going to change a few things but I’m sure he’ll be with the [Canadian] National Team over there in Cairo going through the [Kentucky] plays, because that’s the kind of player he is.”

    Kentucky freshman guard Hamidou Diallo and incoming Kentucky point guard Quade Green both were on the U.S. U18 team that beat Canada for the gold medal last July and are eligible for the U19 pool.

    The American team also featured current Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who is projected as the No. 1 player in the NBA Draft and doesn’t figure to play on the U19 team this summer.

    Other possibilities for the American U19 team are incoming Washington forward Michael Porter Jr., the Most Outstanding Player at the Hoophall Classic and a projected lottery pick in 2018; Kentucky-bound forward P.J. Washington, who had 19 points and 5 rebounds against Canada; uncommitted big man Mohamed Bamba, who is down to Kentucky, Duke, Texas and Michigan; Oklahoma-bound point guard Trae Young; Texas freshman big man Jarrett Allen; incoming Texas point guard Matt Coleman; and Maryland freshman Kevin Huerter.

    Calipari could coach some combination of those players, along with potentially other high-profile uncommitted players.

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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.