Of the 35 players who will compete for a national team spot, four played basketball at UK
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Of the 35 players announced Friday for the 2018-20 USA Men’s National Team roster of players who are expected to attend the July 25-27 USA Men’s National Team minicamp in Las Vegas, four played basketball at the University of Kentucky.
NBA Wildcats Devin Booker (UK 2015; currently Phoenix Suns), DeMarcus Cousins (UK 2010; currently New Orleans Pelicans), Anthony Davis (UK 2012; currently New Orleans Pelicans) and John Wall (UK 2010; currently Washington Wizards) were among some of the league’s most talented players invited to the minicamp.
UK had more players selected for the roster than any other school in the country.
From that roster of 35, it is expected that the official, 12-member 2019 USA World Cup and 2020 U.S. Olympics teams, should the USA qualify to compete in China and Tokyo, will be compromised of players from the 2018-20 USA National Team.
All four NBA Cats have USA Basketball experience to varying degrees:
- Booker, the youngest player among the 35 players invited, was named a member of the 2016 USA Select Team that trained with and against the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team
- Cousins was on the gold-medal-winning 2016 Olympic Team and the 2014 FIBA World Cup Team. He started five of eight games and averaged 9.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the 2016 Olympic squad
- Davis, right after guiding UK to the 2012 national championship and going No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft, joined Team USA and won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics
- Wall was named a finalist for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team and was a member of the 2014-16 USA Men’s National Team
Of course, all four are NBA superstars.
Booker has become one of the game’s youngest stars. Already the youngest player to score 70 or more points in a game in NBA history, last month he became the third youngest player in league history to reach 4,000 career points. He also won the NBA Three-Point Contest in February.
Cousins, a four-time NBA All-Star and two-time All-NBA Second Team member, was having an MVP-caliber season before ruptruing his Achilles tendon in late January. He was averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game prior to the injury. According to ESPN Stats and Info, over the last 50 seasons, only four players averaged at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game for an entire season. All four of those players won the league’s MVP award.
Davis was tag-teaming with Cousins towards a push for the playoffs when Cousins went down. It was thought the Pelicans would fade after that, but all Davis has done has taken his game to a new level. The five-time NBA All-Star (2017 MVP) and two-time All-NBA First Team member is in the MVP discussion. He’s among the league leaders in points per game (second at 28.1), rebounds per game (fifth at 11.1) and blocks (first at 2.49). Davis was named the Western Conference Player of the Month on March 1 after averaging 35.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.2 blocks a game after losing Cousins for the season.
Wall has been plagued by injuries this season is a five-time NBA All-Star and made the All-NBA Third Team a season ago. UK’s first-ever No. 1 overall draft pick is the Wizards’ franchise leader in career assists, career steals, single-season assists and youngest player to 10,000 career points.
The 2017-20 USA Basketball National Team coaching staff features USA head coach and San Antonio Spurs mentor Gregg Popovich.
The 2018 USA National Team minicamp will feature daily practices on July 25-27 at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center.