Zion Williamson Invited to U.S.A. Basketball Training Camp
Zion Williamson of Duke University has been invited to U.S.A. Basketball’s August training camp in Las Vegas as part of a 10-man “select” team of up-and-coming players, according to the U.S.A.B. chairman, Jerry Colangelo.
Colangelo said in a phone interview that Williamson — the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the June 20 N.B.A. draft — could still play his way onto the senior 12-man roster for the FIBA World Cup in China (Aug. 31-Sept. 15) if his performance with the select squad merits it.
“We want to indoctrinate him in terms of U.S.A. Basketball,” Colangelo said. “We want to give him a platform to see how he can compete with some of the vets that are going to be there.”
As Colangelo noted, Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans went from the select team to the full 12-man roster for the London Olympics in 2012 despite never having played a game in the N.B.A.
New Orleans holds the top selection in the June draft and is widely expected to select Williamson. The team’s new lead voice in the front office, David Griffin, is also trying to persuade Davis to rescind the trade request he lodged with the Pelicans in January under a previous regime.
As reported last week, Davis, Houston’s James Harden, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Charlotte’s Kemba Walker have committed to the senior national team that will represent the United States in China in the 32-team World Cup. It will be the first competition in which Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs will lead the team, having been chosen as the successor to Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.
Colangelo said that U.S.A. Basketball plans to bring 18 established N.B.A. players, as well as the 10-player select squad, to the training camp that starts Aug. 5 in Las Vegas.
Before the team leaves the county in mid-August, Colangelo, Popovich and the U.S.A.B. men’s national director, Sean Ford, will have to pare the 18 invitees down to a 12-man roster for China — with Williamson and the other members of the select squad unofficially vying for spots as well.
Colangelo said the full 18-man roster for training camp wouldn’t be official until next week, but ESPN has reported several names in addition to those of Davis, Harden, Mitchell and Walker.
They are: San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes, Washington’s Bradley Beal, Detroit’s Andre Drummond, Houston’s Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker, Portland’s Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton, Cleveland’s Kevin Love, Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Because of a format change, U.S.A. Basketball had to qualify for the World Cup with a roster of players mostly from the N.B.A. G League who were led by the ESPN broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy as a stand-in coach for Popovich.
After its last World Cup, in Spain in 2014, FIBA reverted to a World Cup soccer-style qualifying format in which several qualifying windows overlapped with the past two N.B.A. regular seasons.
Unlike in world soccer, which utilizes international breaks worldwide to allow players to leave their clubs and return to their various national teams, N.B.A. players were not allowed to participate in World Cup qualifying while in season.
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