West Coast Finalists for USA

Sixteen high school players made the cut as finalists for the 2002 USA Basketball World Championship team. Three west coasters – point guard Aaron Brooks, power forward Mohamed Abukar, and center David Padgett – were among the sixteen...

This last weekend, 20 high school players from around the country went to Colorado Springs to try out for the 2002 USA Basetball World Champioship team. To qualify you had to have been born on or after January 1, 1984. The trials ran from Friday through Sunday, covering four sessions. The sixteen finalists will be pared to 12 after the players attend a training campJuly 14-22 in Miami. The 12-member team will them compete July 24-28 in Isla de Margarita, Venezuela, in the 2002 Confederation of Pan-American Basketball Associations Men's Junior World Championship Qualifying Tournament. The U.S. team will try to earn one of the Americas' four qualifying spots to compete in next year's 2003 FIBA Junior World Championship to be held in Malaysia.

Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent will serve as head coach of the team, which also allows him to legally spend some quality recruiting time with the players.

Aaron Brooks, 5-11 JR PG, Seattle (Wash.) Franklin, who was a late addition to the list of candidates, had a good four days, showing his super quickness and great decision making. His combination of quickness and staying under control make him very effective.

Mohamed Abukar, 6-9 JR PF, San Diego (Calif.) Rancho Bernardo. Abukar shot phenomenally in the first two sessions and was probably among the best shooters at the camp, especially among front court players. His shooting cooled down the last two days, but it was enough for him to make it as a finalists. Many NBA scouts in attendance were wondering how a kid like this could get away from the west coast and commit to Georgia.

David Padgett, 6-10 JR C, Reno (Nev.) High. Padgett, still rusty after sitting out for months with an injury, showed how active and how hard he plays here. His shot wasn't falling, but he's always around the rim battling. He was perhaps the best offensive rebounder in the camp.

Antoine Wright, who is really a west coast kid even though he plays his high school ball at the prep school, Lawrence Academy in Massachusetts, also made the cut.

Other west coasters who didn't make the cut: Hassan Adams, 6-3 SR SG, Los Angeles Westchester, didn't make the trip, having academic obligations; Trevor Ariza, 6-7 JR SF, Los Angeles Westchester; Ekene Ibekwe, 6-9 JR PF, Carson (Calif.) High; Ryan Appleby, 6-2 JR PG, Stanwood (Wash.) High; Marquis Kately, 6-6 SR SF, San Francisco (Calif.) Riordan; and Chris Rodgers, 6-2 SR PG, Portland (Ore.) Wilson.

Another note with west coast interest: Arizona commit, Andre Iguodala, 6-6 SR SF, Springfield (Ill.) Lanphier, was one of the most impressive in the camp. While his jump shot needs work, his very athletic, with long arms and explosiveness, and plays very hard.

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