For the third time since its inception, the United States won the gold medal in the FIBA U17 World Championships.
USA Basketball pulled away from Australia in the second half en route to a 99-92 victory on Saturday afternoon in Dubai.
Malik Newman scored 16 of his team-high 21 points in the first half. The U.S. captain also grabbed 11 rebounds. Jayson Tatum added 15 points, followed by Josh Jackson and Harry Giles with 13 each. Ivan Rabb had a strong showing off the bench. Dejan Vasiljevic led all scorers with 29 points for Australia and Tom Wilson added 23.
Australia was USA Basketball’s toughest opponent from start to finish. The U.S. led by 14 in the fourth quarter, only to have Australia cut the deficit to single digits and make it a two-possession game on multiple occasions in the final three minutes. The game was extended for several minutes, as USA Basketball struggled to close the game out from the free throw line.
Australia had doubled up the U.S., 14-7, in the early goings, but had difficulty competing on the boards, as USA Basketball took a 57-30 advantage in that department.
An interesting matchup was how Isaac Humphries, a highly-touted recruit heading to La Lumiere (Indiana) this season, would fare against the likes on Diamond Stone, Rabb and the other U.S. big men. First half foul trouble saddled Humphries on the bench, as he ended with eight points and six rebounds in 27 minutes.
USA Basketball previously won the gold medal in this tournament in 2010 and 2012.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.