We all know what a great time Team USA had in London, winning all the games and the gold medals and all. Spain, Australia, Brazil and Lithuania all had memorable moments as well.
But what about the host country? A year ago, there were doubts that the Great Britain team would even be allowed to defend its home turf. The basketball culture that is thriving on the European continent has only slowly crept onto British soil, often brought by African immigrants, and rarely embraced by the general public. Facilities, colleges and local leagues are still poor training grounds for kids who want to play at a high level.
For years, the best British players have come to America to learn the game. Luol Deng (Duke), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (George Washington) and other former U.S. collegians played with pride at the 2012 games. Recent collegians like Matthew Bryan-Amaning (Washington), Ogo Adegboye (St. Bonaventure) and Ovie Soko (UAB, Duquesne) seem poised to bring the next wave of quality talent to the GB team.
Even though they didn’t fare particularly well during the London Games, Hoopsfix.com is reporting that the GBR national team is rising in the FIBA rankings, moving up from #43 to #23 internationally. A wave of British players has committed to U.S. colleges, with others beginning to filter into the system via prep academies and junior colleges.
We’re used to seeing players listed by their high school affiliations when they appear on college rosters. After the London Olympics, can it be long before we have to get used to names like Barking Abbey?
pictured above: Former Arizona State forward Eric Boateng with Luol Deng