U.S. dominating with star power
Team USA loaded with five-star players at FIBA under-18 tournament
They are fast. They are deep. They score. They defend. They have big men that dominate the paint.
Team USA is meeting and surpassing all the expectations that come with being the No. 1 seed at the FIBA Under-18 Americas Championship.
The Americans are 3-0 and lead the tournament in scoring with 112.7 points per game. They have won their games against the Dominican Republic, Panama and Puerto Rico by an average of 45.7 points per game.
They led Panama 43-0 at the end of the first quarter and 70-8 at the half.
One of coach Bill Self’s primary jobs is to make sure the players keep their intensity as they look forward to a potential battle in the finals with Canada, the No. 2 ranked team in the world for the under-18 age group.
“We are trying to win each possession,” said Self, the coach at University of Kansas. “They have been hearing a lot of coach-speak, but I
“We want to play a four-guard lineup. The strength of this team is our perimeter
coach of Team USA
thought we have maintained our intensity fairly well.”
The coaching staff is well decorated. Self coached Kansas to the NCAA championship in 2008 and regularly contends for the title. The assistant coach is Danny Manning. He coaches Wake Forest and as a player led Kansas to the NCAA title in 1988 before enjoying a long career in the NBA.
Five-star recruits populate the roster. Guards Tyrese Maxey, Quentin Grimes and Coby White are going to Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina respectively. Forward Kamaka Hepa (6-foot-9) is headed to Texas.
Cole Anthony is one the top players in the country and hasn’t picked a college yet.
Two days before the tournament started, a website that follows Duke University basketball told fans not to give up; the Blue Devils are still in the running for the 6-foot-2 guard from New York City.
Coaches from Villanova, Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Oregon, Louisville, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Ohio State have made appearances at St. Catharines’ Meridian Centre hoping to get a recruiting edge.
Cole’s father, Greg Anthony, played in the NBA for 12 years, but scouts consider his son a better prospect. Scouts regard him as an elite jump shooter and ball handler.
He and Greg played one-onone until Cole started to win.
“My dad has had a huge influence on me,” Cole said. “He has so much knowledge about the game that it is really a blessing for me. I am just trying to get better every day.”
Team USA and Canada appear on a collision course. Both teams play quarter-final games Thursday. The U.S. plays Ecuador at 6 p.m. Canada takes on Panama at 8 p.m.
The way the bracket sets up, they won’t meet until the finals Saturday night.
Self said his team will push the ball up the floor. He has an embarrassment of riches at guard.
“We want to play a four-guard lineup,” Self said. “The strength of this team is our perimeter
quickness. We have four big guys that can play can play, but some games we are only going to play three of them. Our team is better when we can stretch and drive it.”
Quentin Grimes of the United States takes a shot at the net during their game against Puerto Rico in basketball action during the FIBA Under-18 Americas Championship at Meridian Centre in St. Catharines.