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.
John Calipari ‘Comfortable’ With Security in Egypt as Coach of USA U19 Team
Following recent terrorist incidents in Egypt, John Calipari initially had concerns about coaching the USA Basketball U19 team there next month but now says he’s comfortable with the security setup in Cairo.
“If I wasn’t comfortable I wouldn’t go,” Calipari said Tuesday on a conference call about the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup for Men, slated for July 1-9. “I’m very comfortable walking through the way we’ve done this. I’m very comfortable that we’re going to be fine.”
There have been several terrorist incidents in Egypt in recent months, including an ISIS attack in late May outside of Cairo that killed at least 29 Coptic Christians, including 10 children. The attack was the fourth to target Egypt’s Christian community since December.
Calipari added that initially he was “very curious of how we’re gonna do this,” but now feels “very comfortable we’ll be in a good position.”
Twenty-eight players will convene at USA Basketball headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., for tryouts beginning June 18. The 12-member team for Egypt will be announced June 22. The group of 28 includes three Kentucky players in Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox and P.J. Washington, as well as five rising high school seniors.
Retired General Martin E. Dempsey, the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was elected USA Basketball Chairman in November. Sources said Dempsey and USA Basketball have worked with former FBI or Secret Service escorts and Egyptian military and intelligence escorts to plan for the safety of those at the event.
“General Dempsey probably has to speak on the security,” Calipari said. “I’m not an expert on security, I’m barely an expert on basketball.
“To say we’re going to do something on security, we need to have professional people. The City of Cairo and the country of Egypt have addressed it.”
USA spokesman Craig Miller sent the following statement to ZAGSBLOG.
“USA Basketball has been and will continue to monitor the happenings in Egypt, as is FIBA, and the USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team is scheduled to participate in the event July 1-9. Per it’s policy, USA Basketball will not comment on specific security precautions taken for our teams and the event, but as is always the case, the safety of our athletes is USA Basketball’s primary priority.”
Shaka Smart, the head coach at Texas and the USA Basketball U18 team head coach in 2016, said he trusted USA Basketball to provide for the safety of its players.
“I know this, I’ve known Sean Ford and the USA Basketball guys for some time,” Smart said recently on The 4 Quarters Podcast. “Those guys put unbelievable work and preparation and effort into what they do. They would not be taking any team into a situation that they felt was dangerous or put any type of kids or coaches in harm’s way. I know they certainly evaluated this year’s event and feel like [they’ve taken] the necessary precautions.
“I always in situations like that tend to lean on people who know more than me and this is what they do for a living and they feel really good about it.”
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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.