Class of 2015 center Diamond Stone had a dominant performance on Friday as the 6-foot-10 Wisconsin native helped power the United States U17 team to an 83-73 win over Greece in the opener for both teams in the FIBA U17 World Championships. Team USA is the two-time defending champion in the event and is off to a strong start in Dubai after beating a tough opponent in the opener.
Stone had 18 points, six rebounds and three blocks in the first half to finish with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for the game as the USA jumped out to a 45-37 halftime lead and held on from there. Class of 2015 guard Malik Newman also added 13 points for Team USA as the Americans shot 27-for-46 from two-point range, 4-for-16 from three-point range and 17-for-21 from the free-throw line for the game.
Class of 2016 wing Jayson Tatum also added 10 points after battling first-half foul trouble and fellow 2016 wing Josh Jackson added nine points, including two electric tip slams on back-to-back plays in the second half.
Greece fought the Americans hard and stayed within eight to 14 points for much of the game as 7-foot-1 center Giorgios Papagiannis — a former top 50 Class of 2015 prospect before going back to Europe to go pro — and 6-foot-8 lefty wing Vasileios Charalampopulos both finished in double-figures with 16 points and 17 points, respectively. But Greece could never seem to get over-the-hump and make a legitimate run at the American lead.
As is the case with many American international teams, substitutions for fresh bodies came frequently and Team USA also often utilized a full-court press or 1-2-1-1 press to pressure the Greek offense.
While Team USA knocked off a pretty good opponent in the opener, it does appear that they’re missing a point guard on this team that can properly facilitate and help get guys open looks. Newman is a solid passer, but he is more of a natural scorer and handling the point out of necessity in the starting lineup.
It’s also worth noting that Class of 2015 top-five player Ivan Rabb did not see any minutes in this game as he continues to battle an ankle injury suffered during tryouts.
Team USA will face Angola in its next game at 8:30 a.m. EST on Saturday morning. You can view the full schedule for Team USA and the roster for the U17 team here.
Here is the box score for Team USA:
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.