Men’s USA Team Prepares for World Cup

 Kyle Kuzma takes it to the rack in Blue vs White game Friday night in Las Vegas. (Courtesy Photo)
Kyle Kuzma takes it to the rack in Blue vs White game Friday night in Las Vegas. (Courtesy Photo)

By Cameron Buford,

On the campus of the UNLV Running Rebels, the United States Men’s Basketball team gathered last week to prepare for their upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup tournament. Las Vegas, Nevada was the site of their training camp, where they would compete with future NBA stars on the Select Team.

Though this team doesn’t have the marquee players in the NBA, such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephon Curry, Kawhi Leonard or James Harden, they do have a bunch of talented young stars who have yet to reach that global status. These young NBA stars include guys like Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kyle Kuzma.

The 2020 USA FIBA World Cup will provide a chance for some of these young players to build up their brands while being coached by the best coaches in the game. Many of these guys also discussed build some comradery with the guys they’ve only seen from afar much of the times.

Kemba Walker mentions when asked about what he plans to get out of this camp “gain some comradery with guys you don’t get a chance to play with and meet new guys; that’s pretty special.” 

“A different understanding of the game. I talked to everybody in our organization, especially Luke; and his said every player that he has played with we coached, that has gone to (play) USA Basketball, has come back a lot better and a lot better of a leader.” This how De’Arron Fox responded to my question of is looking to gain from this experience.

Donovan Mitchell says he’s just looking to “compete and finds ways to get better.” He also says he wants “to learn from everybody” out there. Mitchell came ready for this opportunity and is excited about the chance to play with his peers. 

When asked what he is looking to do in the next few weeks Kyle says he’s “a little bit everything. Looking to improve his overall game defensively and offensively.” Later I asked Kuzma how he went about getting better on defense he responded by saying “Get in shape! That’s one thing. Making an effort, trying to be physical and trust e feet. (Working on) My mind too, watching a film; so, a little bit of everything.” In my few days in Las Vegas watching the USA Men’s practice and scrimmage, Kyle Kuzma stood out to me! He looks like he’s ready to take the next step. 

During this week I also had an opportunity to consult with Managing Director Jerry Colangelo about what type of player would make this team. Colangelo says he’s looking for the “intangibles” of a player. Though he’s looking to see them in specific “circumstances” to make an ultimate decision once “they demonstrate who they are.” 

Many of the guys playing for this USA team for the World Cup are not likely to be on the USA Men’s Olympics team next year. As guys like Kyrie Irving, Klay Thomson, Paul George, Anthony Davis, and Karl Anthony Towns are likely to compete for a few of these spots on the USA team. However, this remains a great opportunity for all players playing and competing today. I am extremely interested in seeing how these guys develop throughout the season.

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