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.
Projected No. 1 pick in 2022, Chet Holmgren, to face projected No. 1 pick in 23, Victor Wembanyama, in FIBA U19 final
By ADAM ZAGORIA
A busy Sunday that also includes the Wimbledon men’s final, the Euro final and Game 3 of the NBA Finals will feature a matchup of two potential future No. 1 Draft picks.
Incoming Gonzaga freshman Chet Holmgren, the projected No. 1 pick in 2022 according to some mocks, and the USA U19 team will face Victor Wembanyama, the projected No. 1 in ’23, and France in the FIBA U19 final in Riga, Latvia at noon ET on ESPN+.
The 7-foot Holmgren went for 12 points, 8 rebounds and a USA U19 single-game record 6 blocks Saturday when the Americans held off rival Canada, 92-86, in the semifinals.
The win partly avenged an American loss to Canada in the 2017 U19 semifinals in which current Knicks wing R.J. Barrett dismantled the U.S. with 38 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists.
Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Louisiana Tech/Port Arthur, Texas) led the USA in scoring with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field, Mike Miles (TCU/Lancaster, Texas) added 15 pointsand Ryan Kalkbrenner (Creighton/St. Louis, Mo.) rounded out the USA’s double digit scorers with 10 points. Adam Miller (Louisiana State/Chicago, Ill.) added eight points, three rebounds and three assists in the half.
“I am excited about playing for the gold,” said Lofton. “That is the main thing, and that’s the reason we came here, to compete for the gold medal. Now that we are in the championship it is time to finish off with a win.”
Kalkbrenner was one of two Creighton players in the game, as incoming freshman point guard Ryan Nembhard, younger brother of Gonzaga floor general Andrew Nemhbard, went for 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Incoming Michigan freshman Caleb Houstan led Canada with 23 points. Zach Edey, the 7-4 big man from Purdue, had a 16-point, 16-rebound double-double in the loss. Arizona’s Benedict Mathurin had 19 points in the loss.
“We felt they [USA] were the only team that could challenge us really,” said Edey, who competed against his future Purdue teammate Jaden Ivey, who had 12 points and four assists in the quarterfinal win over Senegal. “We’re coming tomorrow with that mindset: just to dominate and make sure that we get our country’s second medal in this event.”
The U.S. win was marred slightly when incoming Tennessee point guard Kennedy Chandler crashed hard to the floor after attempting a two-handed dunk late in the game.
Asked if he would play against Spain, USA and TCU coach Jamie Dixon told ZAGSBLOG, “We will see.”
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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.