United States U16 team advances to FIBA Americas gold medal game

Entering the FIBA Americas U16 Championships the United States was expected to dominate, and to this point in the competition that’s been the case. Saturday night Don Showalter’s team advanced to the gold medal game, beating host Argentina by the final score of 119-76 in Bahia Blanca.

The Americans were balanced offensively, with 2018 guard Tre Jones and 2017 guard Markus Howard leading seven players in double figures with 19 points apiece. Also reaching double figure were 2018 forward Jordan Brown (17 points), 2017 guard Gary Trent Jr. (15), 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt (15), 2017 forward/center Wendell Carter Jr. (12) and 2017 forward Kevin Knox II (12).

As a team the United States shot 50 percent from the field, and against a smaller Argentine squad scored 60 points in the paint. The United States finished the first quarter with a 33-17 lead and removed any doubt regarding the outcome in the second stanza, outscoring Argentina 27-9.

Next up for the United States is Canada, which has also won each of its games by comfortable margins. Canada blew out the Dominican Republic 95-49 in the first semifinal, with 2018 forward Simi Shittu leading five double-digit scorers with 19 points.

2017 point guard verbally commits to Arizona State

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Having done a good job of mining the junior college ranks in his most recent recruiting classes, Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek got a head start on the Class of 2017 on Wednesday night. According to Chris Karpman of Rivals.com, 2017 point guard Markus Howard has verbally committed to attend Arizona State.

The 5-foot-10 Howard put together a very good season at Perry High School in Gilbert, Arizona last year, averaging 23 points per game on a team that included his older brother Jordan. For his efforts Markus was named Boys Basketball Player of the Year by the East Valley Tribune, and Perry head coach Joe Babinski was effusive in his praise of Howard as a competitor in a story written in April.

“Throw anything at him and he’ll compete,” Babinski said. “He’s the best competitor I’ve been around. He just does whatever circumstance happens and what is thrown at him. For a young kid that’s really special. Most kids don’t until they’re juniors or seniors in high school, and even then many don’t. He’s never intimidated by the moment. He just ignores everything else. If I knew how I’d have five or six state championship rings.”

Howard’s ability to score from the point guard position resulted in the attention being paid to him on the recruiting trail and it likely would have increased in time, but he’s made the early decision to remain close to home for college. But with the opportunity to step onto a college campus still being three years away a lot can change for both the player and the school he’s chosen to attend.

With that being the case, it’s difficult to truly forecast who Howard will be competing with for playing time come 2017. But if Howard can build on what was a very good freshman season, Arizona State will have gotten its 2017 recruiting off to a solid start.