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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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Wednesday / June 20.
  • Bryan Antoine, Scottie Lewis looking to make USA U18 team, provide recruiting update

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis, the two Class of 2019 stars from Team Rio and the Ranney (N.J.) School, are in Colorado Springs, Colo., bidding to make the 12-member team that will represent the USA at the upcoming FIBA U18 Americas Championship in St. Catharines, Ontario.

    The two Jersey Boys are among 32 prospects hoping to make the cut, which comes on Saturday. The event runs June 10-16.

    “It’s very exciting to hopefully have USA across our chest in Canada and try to win a gold medal,” the 6-foot-4 Antoine said Thursday. “There’s just a lot of emotions going through us right now.”

    Antoine and Lewis already have some USA Basketball experience, having been among the 21 players invited to the Next Generation Sunday event at the Final Four in San Antonio. There they competed against overseas NBA academies, attended the Final Four games and competed on the same Alamodome floor where Villanova beat Michigan on April 2 to win their second NCAA championship in three years.

    “Yeah, because coach Don Showalter kind of us put us through some of the small things that we’ll go through in tryouts so we’ll know pretty much what to expect,” Antoine said. “So for this tryout, we’ll have a slight advantage over everybody else.”

    Lewis and Antoine are not the only New York/New Jersey guys in the U18 mix. Archbishop Molloy and PSA Cardinals point guard Cole Anthony, the son of former NBA guard Greg Anthony, is also in the pool, as is Jalen Lecque, who has roots in The Bronx and Teaneck, N.J. Both of those players were also at the San Antonio camp. Guards Bryce Wills (Iona Prep, Stanford) & Joe Girard (Glens Falls) are competing, too.

    “In my personal opinion, the tri-state area of Philly, New York and us [New Jersey] has the best talent in the country,” the 6-5 Lewis said. “You look at the 2019 rankings, we have 5-6 players within that top 25 list on ESPN or whatever source you want to look at, so it’s kind of expected for all of us to be there and produce.”

    What would it mean for these guys to make the cut and wear USA on their chests in Canada, where there figure to be a ton of college coaches watching the games?

    “Honestly, for anyone it would be an honor,” Lewis said. “It’s an honor just to get invited to a camp like this and to learn up close from a coach like [Kansas’] Bill Self and to play alongside players like Romeo Weems and to play alongside those guys for five days, it’s an honor.”

    VILLANOVA BECOMING ATTRACTIVE FOR POTENTIAL ONE-AND-DONES

    On the recruiting front, Antoine recently trimmed his list to five schools — Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky and Villanova — while Lewis has not cut his list from the dozen he had before.

    Lewis currently lists St. John’s, Duke, Seton Hall, Maryland, Villanova, Stanford, Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, Harvard, North Carolina and Colgate as his 12 schools, but said he planned to cut that list and add Notre Dame.

    “My parents and I haven’t really created any time frame on when I’ll be making list cuts,” Lewis said. “We have a lot of stuff to focus on as far as the USA team and getting our AAU team back on track to where we used to play. I’m focused on having a good last year and having fun.”

    Brian Klatsky, the Team Rio director, said that during the last week of June, the players will likely take some unofficial college visits “to sort of get that list in order, to figure out what that final five will be to get that list together for the fall.”

    “Since the high school season ended, Scottie and Bryan have been relentless on their bodies,” Klatsky said. “They’ve spent a lot of time at the gym lifting and it’s pretty noticeable when you look at them physically, the weight they’ve put on and the commitment they’ve had to the gym work over the last two months to get ready for this.”

    With Villanova having won two of the last three NCAA titles, and also having now lost four players to the NBA Draft — Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman — that school is becoming more and more attractive to elite players.

    Coach Jay Wright has never had a one-and-done player since the rule went into effect, but Villanova is now squarely in the mix for potential one-and-dones (or two-and-donee) like Antoine, Lewis, Anthony, Lecque, Josh Green, Isaiah Stewart and others.

    “I believe so,” Lewis said. “Especially with kids our age, everything is kind of like what’s trending. And they’re definitely in that category now with Duke or Kentucky, but the best part of them is that some of the top guys in the tri-state can finally stay home and not go to a school that’s not so in the middle of nowhere or just completely down South.”

    Said Antoine: “The tri-state has some of the top players in the country. With what Villanova has been doing the past three years, some of the top players in the country from the tri-state area could potentially stay home and continue that winning attitude.”

    If either or both players end up at Villanova, it’s possible the Wildcats could produce their first one-and-done since Tim Thomas in 1997. One mock draft for 2020 has Lewis projected as the No. 4 pick and Antoine at No. 7.

    What are the chances the duo will end up at the same school?

    “Scottie and Bryan are going to go through the recruiting process individually,” Klatsky said. “They’re not going to take their recruiting visits together, but in the end they will likely consider all options and the possibility of going to school together is definitely real. But they’re going to go through the process individually and if the fit is right for both of them, it’s definitely something that could happen.”

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    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.