The United States basketball officials have revealed the 24-player roster of players that will attend their camp in the summer. These players will be competing against each other to represent the United States in the FIBA U-19 World Championships. With some of the best recruiting talent in the history of college basketball coming to Lexington, you would think at least 1 player would have some Kentucky ties. In fact, not a single player listed on the roster was a Kentucky commit. Suddenly and mysteriously, everyone started asking questions. Julius Randle was a big star on the U-18 team that qualified for the summer championships. Fellow teammate Dakari Johnson also played on the U-17 team that won the world title at that age group last summer. The Harrison twins were also eligible, but were cut from consideration during a training camp. Why did Cal’s newest ‘Cats decline the invitations? They want to start chasing #9.
When asked about his players not going to the USA camps, Kentucky head coach John Calipari said he was not going to force his kids to do anything they didn’t want to do. The 2013 class is very eager and excited to enroll in summer school and start getting ready for the season. Kentucky will probably become the #1 team in the nation, and expected to win the national title before their first game of the season. Willie Cauley-Stein was also eligible for the World Games, but declined. Here is a statement from head coach John Calipari:
“Willie said, ‘This is not the summer for me to do this stuff. I just can’t wait to get back. I want to get prepared,’ ” Calipari said. “I’m happy they’re thinking in those terms. They know the spotlight’s on them.”
The only person on a Kentucky roster that will be participating in these summer games will be junior Kyle Wiltjer. Wiltjer has duel citizenship in Canada, and will be attempting to make their roster. Here are Calipari’s thoughts on Wiltjer on the Canadian team:
“I encouraged it: This is your stuff, and if you want to play, I’ll support it,” Calipari said. “It’s not like I’m going to say, ‘You can try out for any other national team, you just can’t try out for the U.S.’ ”
I think this is a great sign for the Kentucky basketball team moving forward. They will get added time of being together and forming bonds that will carry over into the season. The fact they are already anxious to get started, and they know the spotlight will be on them will greatly benefit them. The cohesiveness of this team will only add to their overwhelming amount of talent they already possess. Put them with college coaches for 2 hours a day for 6-8 weeks, along with getting to know their teammates, could become an even more dangerous combination than college basketball realizes. I never felt like last year’s team had that time together. The team in 2012 had YouTube videos of them practicing together during the summer because of how frequent their practices were. The big key for this team will be who will step up and start the “breakfast club” for this group of ‘Cats. The 2012 team had Michael Kidd-Gilchrist start the early morning workouts before class. Who will start the trend and put in the extra work for this team? I have a feeling someone will do it, and others will follow.
Here are more comments from John Calipari:
“We’re more skilled, and we can shoot. It’s really hard to play dribble/drive if you can’t make shots,” Calipari said. “We’ll just start on the process of getting them ready, getting them together and getting them earning credits. There won’t be a whole lot of difference between what we’re doing and everybody else. Except maybe we’ll work more on the offense.”