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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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Tuesday / May 23.
  • John Calipari to Coach USA U19 Team; Kentucky, Syracuse, Iowa State, Virginia Tech, Oregon, Washington, Texas Commits In Mix for U19 World Championship Spots

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    Kentucky coach John Calipari is expected to coach the U.S. team at the FIBA U19 World Championship set for July 1-9 in Cairo, Egypt, ESPN reported.

    A number of commits from Kentucky, Syracuse, Iowa State, Virginia Tech, Oregon, Washington and Texas are in the mix for spots on both the Canadian and American teams.

    Kentucky-bound guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Syracuse commit Oshae Brissett, Iowa State signee Lindell Wigginton, Virginia Tech-bound Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Oregon commit Abu Kigab all played last year for the Canadian U18 team in the FIBA Americas Championship in Chile.

    Despite 25 points from Alexander-Walker, that team lost to the U.S., 99-84, in the gold medal game on July 23.

    Calipari could potentially coach against Gilgeous-Alexander should both participate and the two teams meet again.

    Those players are all in the mix for spots on the Canadian U19 team, as are a slew of talented guys who last year played on Canada’s U17 team, including Class of 2019 stars R.J. Barrett and Andrew Nembhard of Montverde (FL) Academy and 6-10 Class of 2018 big Simi Shittu of Vermont Academy. Luguentz Dort, a Class of 2018 point guard being recruited by Louisville, Florida, Baylor and UNLV, is also eligible.

    “Definitely there will be some healthy competition for the U17s coming up really to try to break into that team and ultimately put together a really, really strong team to compete,” Rowan Barrett, the executive director of Canada Basketball, said Thursday on The 4 Quarters Podcast.

    “But our expectation is that our players will want to continue to play for their country at the U19 or the U18 level much as Andrew Wiggins and Trey Lyles and Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph did before them.”

    It remains unclear exactly which players will fill out the rosters for the Canadian and American teams, and some of it will depend on whether they choose to play or whether their respective colleges allow/encourage their guys to go.

    The Kentucky-bound Gilgeous-Alexander, for example, will be heading to play for Calipari while aware that he will be competing for playing time alongside guards Quade Green and Hamidou Diallo.

    Green and Diallo, meantime, both were on the U.S. U18 team that beat Canada for the gold medal last July and are eligible for the U19 pool.

    Diallo, who enrolled at Kentucky this month, went for 14 points and 6 rebounds in the win, while Green managed 4 points and 2 assists.

    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 this past weekend 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; uncommitted point guard Trae Young, who is mulling Kansas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State; Texas freshman big man Jarrett Allen; incoming Texas point guard Matt Coleman; and Maryland freshman Kevin Huerter.

    At the Senior National team level, Canada failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics — won by the USA in Rio — but the Canucks are targeting Tokyo in 2020 and 2024 to make a mark with this blend of young talent along with the likes of Wiggins, Lyles, Thompson, Joseph, Kelly Olynyk, Jamal Murray and others.

    “I think it’s a plan that was laid out many years before I joined the organization to really be in the elite by the time we got to 2020,” Barrett said. “Now with all these players that have come through I think that we’re in strong position to be able to do that….We believe the sky’s the limit for us in 2020.”

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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.