Stepinac's A.J. Griffin among 18 finalists for USA U16 team | Zagsblog
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Thursday / November 21.
  • Stepinac’s A.J. Griffin among 18 finalists for USA U16 team

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    Following five practice sessions over three days May 22-24 at the Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the 30 USA Men’s U16 National Team training camp participants were reduced to 18 finalists for the 2019 USA Basketball U16 National Team.

    The training camp is being used to select the 12 athletes who will represent USA Basketball in the sixth edition of the FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Men, which will take place June 3-9 in Belém, Brazil, in hopes of securing a gold medal and berth to the 2020 FIBA U17 World Cup.

    The 18 finalists will remain in Fort Lauderdale to train and the 12-member team will be announced prior to departing for Brazil on May 30.

    The 18 finalists for the 2019 USA U16 National Team are: Amari Bailey (Sierra Canyon H.S./Chatsworth, Calif.); Nathan Bittle (Crater H.S./Central Point, Ore.); Jaden Bradley (Cannon School/Concord, N.C.); Max Christie (Rolling Meadows H.S./Arlington Heights, Ill.); Zion Cruz (Hudson Catholic H.S./Trenton, N.J.); Gradey Dick (Wichita Collegiate School/Wichita, Kan.); Jalen Duren (Roman Catholic H.S., Pa.)/New Castle, Del.); Gregg Glenn III (Calvary Christian Academy/Pompano Beach, Fla.); AJ Griffin (Archbishop Stepinac H.S./Ossining, N.Y.); Camden Heide (Wayzata H.S./Wayzata, Minn.); Dillon Hunter (Westlake H.S./Atlanta, Ga.); Richard Isaacs Jr. (Coronado H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.); Will Jeffress (McDowell H.S./Erie, Pa.); Trevor Keels (Paul VI Catholic H.S., Va./Clinton, Md.); Tamin Lipsey (Ames H.S./Ames, Iowa); Chris Livingston (Buchtel H.S./Akron, Ohio); Jabari Smith Jr. (Sandy Creek H.S./Tyrone, GA); and Kijani Wright (Windward H.S./Los Angeles, Calif.).

    “This is definitely a very talented group,” said USA U16 head coach Mike Jones (DeMatha Catholic H.S., Md.). “It’s definitely a credit to them and I want to complement all the kids who came out and tried out. Getting down to 18 was not easy for the committee. But we do feel that within this group of 18 we can pick 12 guys who can go and be successful in Brazil. We’ve got the next few days to really come together as a team and that will be our goal over the next four or five practices.

    “If you look at the history of the USA Basketball 16s and 17s, the 16-and-under teams and the 17-and-under teams have always had some changes and guys who didn’t make this team,” said Jones about the 12 athletes who aren’t still in the running for a roster spot. “They’ll work hard. They’ll be motivated and they’ll come back here stronger. We look forward to taking care of business later this month. But, in the future, the bigger picture, a lot of these guys will contribute to our success down the road.”

    Players eligible for this team must be 16 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 2003) and U.S. citizens.

    Sixteen of the athletes have prior USA Basketball training camp experience, and Dick and Heide are participating in their first USA camp.

    Bailey, Bittle, Bradley, Christie, Duren, Glenn, Hunter, Isaacs, Jeffress, Keels, Lipsey, Livingston, Smith and Wright took part in the 2019 USA Junior National Team April minicamp, which included participating in the NCAA Next Generation Sunday at the 2019 NCAA Men’s Final Four in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

    Bittle, Bradley, Christie, Cruz, Duren, Glenn, Griffin, Hunter, Isaacs, Jeffress, Keels, Lipsey, Livingston and Wright took part in the 2018 USA Junior National team minicamp held in October in Colorado Springs.

    Eleven athletes earned recognition from MaxPreps and USA Today following the 2018-19 season.

    Bradley, Duren and Livingston listed on the 2019 MaxPreps Freshman All-America first team; Glenn was named to the third team and Bailey and Cruz were honorable mention.

    Keels was a 2019 Max Preps Sophomore All-America first team selection, Bittle and Christie were named to the third team and honorable mention went to Griffin and Jeffress.

    Among the USA Today All-State first team honorees were Bittle (Oregon) and Christie (Illinois), while USA Today All-State second team honors went to Jeffress (Pennsylvania), Keels (Virginia) and Livingston (Ohio).

    The 18 athletes hail from 16 different states, and California and Georgia have the most representatives with two. Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania are home to one athlete apiece.

    Assisting Jones and the U16 squad are high school head coaches Eric Flannery (St. Edward H.S., Ohio).



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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.