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:
With Jack Cooley having graduated and Tom Knight and Garrick Sherman both being seniors, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey could have used a win on the recruiting trail when it comes to adding to the front court rotation. The Fighting Irish heard the news they were hoping for on Friday, as 6-9 power forward Martin Geben has verbally committed to attend Notre Dame.
The news was first reported by Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com. Geben’s decision to commit to Notre Dame comes one week after he took his official visit to the school, and he’s their first commitment in the 2014 class.
Originally a native of Lithuania, Geben attends St. Maria Goretti in Hagerstown, Md. In addition to playing with the Team Takeover AAU program this summer Geben represented his native country in the FIBA Under-19 World Championships, posting averages of 5.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game (53.2% FG) on a Lithuanian squad that won the bronze medal.
In 2014 Notre Dame will have, in addition to Geben, Zach Auguste, Austin Burgett (both sophomores this season), current redshirt freshman Eric Katenda and current true freshman Austin Torres in the front court. Notre Dame has a few more spots to fill, with Knight, Sherman and point guard Eric Atkins out of eligibility after the 2013-14 season. The school lists guard Jerian Grant as a senior, but he does have another season of eligibility remaining due to the fact that he redshirted in 2010-11.
The United States U17 basketball team continued its overseas dominance Saturday afternoon, beating Spain, 95-66, to advance to the gold medal game of the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship.
“I thought Spain was very, very prepared for us. They did a lot of very interesting things to us defensively and kind of threw us off a little bit,” said USA coach Don Showalter in a release. “I thought our kids played through some adversity tonight. We really showed what kind of team we are, especially in the second half.”
Justise Winslow, a Top 10 player in the Class of 2014, led the way for the Americans with 17 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks. Kansas commit Conner Frankamp continued a strong overseas showing with 13 points.
The United States led by just six points at halftime, but was able to crack a 2-3 zone to pull away in the second half.
“[The zone] disrupted our offense,” said Winslow of Spain’s defense. “They’re pretty long and their guards up top are active. It just gave us trouble. We were turning the ball over a lot. I think we were focused, I just don’t think we were concentrating on attacking the zone in certain spots. They played really well the first half.”
Showalter and the Americans now move on to play sharpshooting Australia in the gold medal game, looking to defend their U17 title. Australia hit 15 three-pointers in a win over previously undefeated Croatia to advance.
The gold medal game will take place Sunday at 1:30 PM EDT.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_