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Texas bigs Jarrett Allen, James Banks make final US men’s U18 national team

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The Longhorns contingent will try to bring back another gold medal from Chile.

Shaka Smart coaches up his U18 national team
Texas athletics

Representing the United States at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship is now a reality for Texas Longhorns big men Jarrett Allen and James Banks, who both survived a second cut on Tuesday to earn a trip to Valdivia, Chile from July 19-23 with head coach Shaka Smart.

The two players have been in Houston over the last several days participating in the team’s second training camp in preparation for that final round of roster reductions. Now Smart and his staff will shift the focus to to the final practice sessions that run through Friday before the team departs for South America.

“I’m really excited about the make-up of our team,” said USA U18 and University of Texas head coach Shaka Smart. “First of all, we have 12 high- character guys, they are guys who really seem to get along well with each other, and that’s important on any team. And then we have some very talented kids at a variety of spots. We have size, we have length. Our point guard play is going to be very important on this team. Those guys are going to have to set the tone in terms of leadership, in terms of getting us into offense and defense the way we want to get into it. I’m excited about the guys we have.”

Also included on the team are 2017 Texas targets Matt Coleman, a point guard at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep forward PJ Washington, and Norman (Okla.) North point guard Trae Young.

“We want to play fast; we want to play exciting basketball,” added Smart about the style of play he expects from the USA team. “On the defensive end we want to really pressure people. I think we have the advantage with length and athleticism. We have some real size at the rim. At the same time, we have to be very sound, because we’re going to be playing against teams that can make outside shots and we have to make sure we respect that. On the offensive end we want to share the ball, we want to get out and play fast. We only have a 24-second shot clock, which I like because it means we’ve got to make sure we’re attacking and throwing the ball inside. That can be a huge threat for us, when the ball touches the paint, good things happen and we want to take advantage of our size and length.”

Group play begins on July 19 against Puerto Rico and continues over the following two days against host Chile and then the US Virgin Islands. The top two teams from each group advance to the semifinals on July 22 before the winners face off in the finals on July 23 in a whirlwind tournament that will test the conditioning of the young players.

The standards for the team are high, too — the US U/18 teams have only lost two games in the history of the tournament (silver in 2008 and bronze in 2002), while bringing home the gold medal in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2014.