Turns out that Texas Longhorns head coach Shaka Smart saw what everyone else was seeing from his two freshman bigs, as Jarrett Allen and James Banks are among the 18 finalists for the final 12 positions on the USA men's U18 team that will compete in the 016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship July 19-23 in Valdivia, Chile.
“This was a great group, one of the most competitive groups we’ve ever had for this age group,” said chairman Jim Boeheim. “This will be a really good team. They have a great coaching staff and this is a group of finalists that has size, it’s got quality point guards and shooting guards, it’s got very good depth. It’s a really well balanced group. I think it’s one of the most well balanced groups we’ve ever had at U18.
Training camp runs through Saturday, then the team will re-convene from July 11-15 in Houston. At the end of the second training camp, Smart and his staff will choose the 12 finalists. Included among those players are the nation’s No. 2 prospect, Duke signee Mohamed Bamba, and the nation’s No. 8 prospect in the 2017 class, Brandon McCoy, some of the competition for Allen and Banks in the frontcourt.
“It is the hardest thing to make cuts, even a few guys,” Boeheim said. “There are no bad players here, they’re all good, and the next cut will really be hard. We’re very blessed in this country, we have great, great depth of players, quality players at all levels and that’s what separates U.S. basketball from other countries — just the depth that we have, no one else has that.”
Depending on how Smart chooses to select his team, he’ll likely pick three of those four players, as those are the only pure bigs on the roster, as PJ Washington and Michael Porter are likely to play on the wing for the Texas head coach.
If Allen continues to have stretches of play like this, he’ll probably make it:
Quite a sequence for #HookEm big Jarrett Allen - helpside block on Porter; pump from short corner, drive, slam; forced Porter TO @ perimeter— Dustin McComas (@DMcComasOB) June 16, 2016
As for Banks, he certainly has a chance as well because of his ability to alter shots.