May, McCants make first cut at USA Trials

Following four USA National Team Trials sessions July 16-17, 16 candidates remain in their quest for one of 12 roster spots on the 2004 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Team -- including North Carolina juniors Rashad McCants and Sean May.

The finalists for the USA Basketball 20-and-under squad, which will compete in the 2004 FIBA Americas World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament July 28 - Aug. 1, continue training at the New Jersey Nets practice facility in East Rutherford through July 23 in hopes of securing a position on the USA Young Men's National Team.

Chaired by former University of Virginia Athletic Director Terry Holland, the USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee selected the finalists and will make the final roster determinations at the 2004 USA National Team training camp July 18-23 in East Rutherford. Athletes eligible for selection to this age-based team include any male who is a U.S. citizen and is 20-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1984).

"The Committee did a great job of getting us down to the right 16," said USA and University of Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson. "Our strengths are our point guard play, our athleticism and we're versatile. We have a lot of guys who can play different positions like an Adam Morrison, a P.J. Tucker, Rashad McCants, Charlie Villanueva, Curtis Withers, (Curtis) Sumpter. We've got guys who can swing, they can play more than one position. We're versatile and we're athletic. The key in such a short period of time is to be able to execute something and to be able to trust it to work. When you play with each other in such a short period of time, you tend to get spooked when something doesn't go right and that's when the individual play takes over. We're going to try to get to a point where we execute something really well and play as a team."

JUST THE FACTS
2004 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Men's Qualifying Team

COACHING STAFF:
Head Coach: Kelvin Sampson, University of Oklahoma Assistant Coaches: Tom Crean, Marquette University (Wis.); Dan Monson, University of Minnesota

TEAM TRIALS:
Dates: July 16-18 Site: New Jersey Nets Practice Facility, East Rutherford, N.J.

TRAINING CAMP:
July 19-23 -Training @ NJ Nets Practice Facility July 24-25 -Training @ Saint John, Canada July 26-27 -Training @ Halifax, Canada

EXHIBITION GAME:
July 25 / 2:00 p.m. @ Saint John, Canada USA Young Men vs. Canada Young Men

2004 FIBA Americas World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament

Dates: July 28 -Aug. 1 , 2004
Site: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

The 16 USA Young Men Team finalists include: Hassan Adams (Arizona / Los Angeles, Calif.); 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.); Adam Morrison (Gonzaga / Spokane, Wash.); David Padgett (*Louisville / Reno, Nev.); Chris Paul (Wake Forest / Lewisville, N.C.); Mustafa Shakur (Arizona / Philadelphia, Pa.); 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).

The three players who did not make the finalists roster include Rodney Carney (Memphis / Indianapolis, Ind.); Demetris Nichols (Syracuse / Barrington, R.I.) and C.J. Watson (Tennessee / Las Vegas, Nev.).

Sampson is being assisted on the sidelines by collegiate head coaches Tom Crean of Marquette University (Wis.) and Dan Monson of the University of Minnesota.

USA team finalists will remain in New Jersey for the team's training camp, which will feature two-a-days at 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at the New Jersey Nets practice facility in East Rutherford, 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 at the Halifax Metro Center. 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 following the July 20 tournament draw, 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. Tickets for the World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament can be purchased at the Halifax Metro Center box office or by calling the Metro Center box office at 902-451-1221.

"We're going to have to decide how we want to win the games and get as good as we can in one or two areas. And then go out there and play," added Sampson on not knowing anything about the USA's opponents heading into the tournament. "Basketball in its simplest form is competition. We need to get our kids in the mind-set that they're going to compete. I think it's more important than worrying about the style of another team. If we can get tough-minded, where we can defend and rebound, do the little things right, we'll be okay. It'll be a road game for us every night so the first step for us is to make sure our kids are tough-minded and know what they're going into."

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.


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