Of the 24 players accepting an invite to the 2004 USA Men's National Team Trials, seven return from last year USA Junior World Championship Team that finished 7-1 and in fifth place. Returning are (Top, left to right): Maurice Ager, Dee Brown and Ryan Hollins. (Bottom, left to right): Mustafa Shakur, C.J. Watson, and Deron Williams. Not pictured is J.J. Redick who was injured for most of the 2003 event.
In addition to Ager, Dee Brown, Hollins, Redick, Shakur, Watson and Deron Williams, the 24 players who have accepted invitations to the 2004 USA Basketball Men's National Team Trials include: Hassan Adams (Arizona / Los Angeles, Calif.); Sean Banks (Memphis / Englewood, N.J.); Josh Boone (Connecticut / Mt. Airy, Md.); Aaron Brooks (Oregon / Seattle, Wash.); Shannon Brown (Michigan State / Maywood, Ill.); Justin Gray (Wake Forest / Charlotte, N.C.); Sean May (North Carolina / Bloomington, Ind.); Rashad McCants (North Carolina / Asheville, N.C.); Demetris Nichols (Syracuse / Barrington, R.I.); David Padgett (TBD / Reno, Nev.); Chris Paul (Wake Forest / Lewisville, N.C.); Curtis Sumpter (Villanova / Brooklyn, N.Y.), P.J. Tucker (Texas / Raleigh, N.C.); Charlie Villaneuva (Connecticut / Brooklyn, N.Y.); Eric Williams (Wake Forest / Wake Forest, N.C.); Curtis Withers (UNC Charlotte / Charlotte, N.C.) and Bracey Wright (Indiana / The Colony, Texas).
Seven return from the 2003 USA Men's Junior World Championship Team that journeyed to Thessaloniki, Greece, and finished fifth with a 71 record, a mark that tied gold medalist Australia for the best record in the tournament. The USA squad also went 5-0 to win gold at the 2003 Global Games in Dallas, Texas. Dee Brown led the team at the Junior Worlds in scoring averaging 17.3 ppg. and added 4.1 apg., while Illini teammate Deron Williams contributed 8.4 ppg. and handed out a team best 4.8 apg. Hollins accounted for 7.8 ppg., 6.3 rpg., and 1.1 bpg., Ager added 6.0 ppg. and 3.0 rpg., Watson was credited with 6.0 ppg. and 2.0 apg., Shakur posted averages of 5.0 ppg. and 2.8 apg., while Redick was injured and limited to action in just two games.
Supplying additional USA Basketball experience is Brooks, Dee Brown, Padgett and Deron Williams who helped the U.S. qualify for the 2003 FIBA Junior World Championship after finishing with a 41 record and the bronze medal at the 2002 FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifier in Venezuela.
A four-time USA Basketball team member, Redick, as well as McCants, competed in a pair of USA Basketball Youth Development Festivals. The duo head a list of 12 who got their USA Basketball start at the Festival, including Adams, Banks, Shannon Brown, Gray, May, Nichols, Padgett, Paul, Deron Williams and Wright.
A total of five 2004 All-Americans further underscore the strength of the USA team candidates. May was an ESPN.com All-America third team selection and Associated Press (A.P.) All-America honorable mention; McCants listed as an All-America second team by Basketball Times and third team by the A.P.; Redick was named by the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-America third team and he, along with Paul, were A.P. All-America honorable mentions following the 2003-04 season. The fifth All-American listed among the USA National Team Trials roster is Withers, a Basketball Times All-America third team selection, who will experience his first taste of USA Basketball in July.
Guiding the U.S. squad will be University of Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson, who will be assisted by collegiate head coaches Tom Crean of Marquette University (Wis.) and Dan Monson of the University of Minnesota.
Finalists for the USA Team will be selected following trials July 16-18 at the New Jersey Nets practice facility in East Rutherford. The USA Trials schedule will see the candidates competing twice a day, at 10:00 a.m. (all times local) and 5:00 p.m. Finalists will remain in New Jersey for the team's training camp, which will again feature two-a-days at 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., and the eventual 12-member squad will be finalized sometime prior to the USA's final New Jersey practice at 10:00 a.m. on July 23.
Following a 2:00 p.m. practice session in Saint John, Canada, on July 24, the U.S. will take on Canada's Young Men's National Team on July 25 in a 2:00 p.m. exhibition game at Harbour Station in Saint John. Tickets for the exhibition game can be purchased at the Harbour Station box office or by calling 800-267-2800 or 506-657-1234 in Canada.
The young American squad will get in a final pair of practices in Halifax, Canada, on July 26 and 27 before tipping off play at the 2004 FIBA Americas World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament on July 28. The U.S. will compete against seven other teams from the Americas for one of the three Americas Zone qualifying berths for the 2005 FIBA World Championships For Young Men, which will be hosted next summer by Argentina. Featuring eight nations divided into two groups of four, the competition schedule, which will be released at a later date, includes a preliminary round with round-robin play between teams in each group July 28-30. The top two finishing teams in each group will advance to the July 31 semifinals and the gold medal will be contested Aug. 1.
The World Championship For Young Men and its zone qualifying tournaments are held every four years. Originally held in 1993 and known as the FIBA 22 And Under World Championship, it was designed for men 22-years-old or younger. FIBA lowered the age eligibility to 21-years-old or younger in December 1998 and changed the competition name to the World Championship For Young Men. The USA has qualified for all three previous World Championship For Young Men tournaments and has compiled a 22-2 overall record while winning gold medals in 1993 and 2001. United States squads have also compiled a 15-2 win-loss record in the three Young Men Qualifiers, winning gold in 1996 and silver in 2000 and 1993.