It’s no doubt been a busy several weeks at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. After the U18 team was formulated last week, in anticipation of traveling to Brazil for the FIBA Americas tournament, the U17 team will start trials on Friday for a squad that will head to Lithuania for the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, which starts June 29.
Most of the team will most likely come from alumni of the FIBA Americas U16 championship squad that ran roughshod over the competition last summer. Many of the top recruits nationally in the 2013 and 2014 class are on the 31 member tryout roster.
The current top ranked player in the 2013 class nationally, and the next LeBron James (according to Sports Illustrated), Jabari Parker of Chicago is expected to anchor the team. His primary sidekick last summer was 6-7 forward Aaron Gordon (younger brother of Drew Gordon), though he has battled through injury problems this spring. Those two were the core of the gold medal team last summer and are top-5 players in the 2013 recruiting class.
There are several players already committed to colleges on the roster for the tryouts, including recent Missouri point guard pledge Anton Beard, Jimmie Taylor (Alabama), Conner Frankamp (Kansas), Georgetown commit Stephen Domingo, and Indiana-bound James Blackmon Jr.
Several top-5 prospects in the 2014 class figure to be strong competitors for slots on the team, including touted 6-9 center Jahlil Okafor, star point guard Tyus Jones and 7-footer Dakari Johnson.
With a similarly star studded coaching staff that includes Don Showalter of Iowa City, as well as DeMatha Catholic head coach Mike Jones, the event should feature stiff competition to make the final roster. With a facility that is at significant altitude, the trials will test the top young prospects in the country, physically and mentally.