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June 18, 2013
Watch any one of his YouTube clips and it will not take much to figure out why Aaron Gordon was one of 12 players selected Monday to the U.S. U19 national team.
Or, just check out the video above from the tryout at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Gordon will be joined by: Michael Frazier (Florida), Jerami Grant (Syracuse, Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S./Chicago, Ill.), Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee), Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke), Mike Tobey (Virginia), Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington) and Justise Winslow (St. Johns H.S./Houston, Texas).
Shortly after his selection, Gordon tweeted:
Gordon, Okafor and Winslow were the three youngest invited to the tryout, which started with 26 players before it was narrowed down to 16 on Sunday. Okafor and Winslow also were the lone 2014 recruits invited, and both hold Arizona offers.
The Americans will compete at the FIBA World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic from June 27 to July 7. Until then, Team USA will remain in Colorado through Wednesday before relocating to the Washington Wizards' practice facility in the nation's capital for the three next days.
The squad, which will be led by Florida head coach Billy Donovan, will depart for Prague on Saturday and train during the four days prior to the tournament.
"Getting down to 12 is the real hard part because in a lot of respects we easy could have kept 14-15," Donovan said in a release from USA Basketball.
"There were some tough decisions, difficult decisions, but I think we feel overall that we have selected an athletic and versatile team. Our style of play will be an aggressive, up-tempo, running, pressing style. From an execution standpoint we've got to get better there, a lot of the other teams over there have been together for quite some time and that's probably a strength of their teams, so we felt that we have to rely on some athleticism."
Donovan guided the 2012 U18 U.S. team to a 5-0 record and gold medal at the FIBA Americas tournament. He is joined on the staff by assistants Tony Bennett (Virginia), Shaka Smart (Virginia Commonwealth) and Dave Werner (Florida).
The FIBA U19 World Championship is played every two years, and the U.S. will attempt to improve upon its fifth-place 7-2 record in 2011.
This year's roster features five players - Grant, Harrell, Marcus Smart, Stokes and Sulaimon - with a gold medal from the 2012 U18 FIBA Americas tournament. Okafor and Winslow helped lead the U.S. to last summer's U17 gold medal, and Okafor was the named the tournament's most valuable player while Winslow joined him on the all-tournament team. Gordon and Okafor helped Team USA win gold at the 2011 U16 tournament.
"We are proud of Aaron making the U19 National Team," UA head coach Sean Miller said Tuesday in a release. "It is quite an accomplishment to play for your country and compete for a gold medal. I have no doubt that this experience will be invaluable for Aaron as he transitions from high school to college basketball here at the U of A. We wish him and his team the best of luck in their quest to bring home the gold."
The Americans will open in Group D with China, Ivory Coast and Russia. Group A will feature Canada, Croatia, South Korea and Spain. Group B will pair hosts Czech Republic with Argentina, Iran and defending champion Lithuania. Group C will have Australia, Brazil, Senegal and Serbia.
U.S. men's teams are 69-13 all-time at the U19 tournament with four gold and three silver medals collected along the way.