While we brought you the news back in May, USA Basketball has officially announced the US Select Team and it will include Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell. The two young Lakers join a mix of young NBA veterans and NCAA standouts to form the roster which will convene this summer in Las Vegas.
Being named to the select team is nice accomplishment, not only because it is recognition of the players’ status as up and coming talents, but also because it puts them into the pipeline of players who could end up being considered for roster spots on the senior team which will compete internationally at events like the Olympics and the World Championships.
“The 2016 USA Basketball Select Team continues to our tradition of featuring some of the game’s brightest and most promising young players. Participation in this camp provides them with valuable experience at the USA Basketball National Team level, while helping prepare the 2016 USA National Team for its upcoming international competition. For many of the Select Team players this is a continuation of their USA Basketball experiences and for others it is an introduction into our pipeline,” said Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball National Team managing director.
“Being chosen for the Select Team is an honor and it is an important step in becoming involved in USA Basketball’s National Team program in the future. Current national team players like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, as well as many other outstanding players, got their USA National Team start through a Select Team.
“We’re also very excited to get our future national team head coach Gregg Popovich involved this summer. Coach Popovich’s coaching success speaks for itself and it will be great to have him be a part of this year’s Las Vegas training camp.”
Speaking of Popovich, the linked announcement notes that he will oversee the Select Team this summer before taking over as the head coach in 2017 when Mike Krzyzewski steps down. Serving as assistant coaches for the Select Team are Jay Wright (Villanova University) and Ime Udoka (Spurs Assistant Coach).
The young Lakers, then, will get the type of exposure fans should be excited about. To train with and compete against not only the Select Team but the actual National Team that will compete in Rio is a wonderful opportunity to see how other top players prepare and compete on a daily basis.
Further, to be involved in practices run by Krzyzewski and exposed to the teachings of guys like Popovich, Thibs, Wright, et al is like enrolling in a master class for basketball excellence.
And while this commitment may interfere with the young Lakers’ ability to be full bore participants in Summer League, that may just be the price they pay to be a part of this other environment. That would not be ideal, but I think it is worth it for all they can learn through direct instruction, interaction with, and observation of some of the best in the world.