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June 16, 2013

Gordon lone Wildcat standing at Team USA camp

Aaron Gordon is not quite done in Colorado Springs, Colo., but two of his Arizona teammates are headed home.

Of the 26 players invited, the incoming five-star freshman was one of 16 finalists selected Sunday morning in the first round of cuts at Team USA's U19 tryouts at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

The decision was based off performances through the first three days and four practices of camp.

"Obviously, the competition level was high," Gordon told GOAZCATS.com via phone call. "All that means is I just have to raise my level of play, and I think I have the capability of doing so."

Gordon was joined by: Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova), Damyean Dotson (Oregon), Michael Frazier (Florida), Marcus Georges-Hunt (Georgia Tech), Jerami Grant (Syracuse, Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S./Chicago, Ill.), Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette), James Robinson (Pittsburgh), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee), Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke), Mike Tobey (Virginia), Nigel Williams-Goss (Findlay Prep/Happy Valley, Ore.) and Justise Winslow (St. Johns H.S./Houston, Texas).

The final roster will be cut to 12 and decided after the players compete in practices Monday through Wednesday. Those players will compete at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic from June 27 to July 7.

Among the players not selected were Gordon's college teammates, Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Arizona had the most representatives of any school at the camp.

Ashley and Hollis-Jefferson were not made available for comment, but Gordon said "any of these guys could've made the team."

"I guess the coaches just didn't see where they fit in," Gordon said. "They played very well. I love those guys. They're my teammates, they're my family."

The tryout has afforded Gordon, as well as Hollis-Jefferson, the opportunity to learn from college-level coaches - Billy Donovan is the head coach of the Americans - before reporting to Tucson for the summer.

"We had 26 really, really good players and all of the guys made the selection very, very difficult," Donovan said in a release. "I think the things that stand out about this team is just the athleticism; the speed and quickness; the ability to defend and put pressure on people; and offensive rebound.

"We still have to get down to 12 players and the challenge right now is to see how these 16 guys fit into what we're trying to do. We'll learn a lot more in the next three practices; we'll see how well guys pick up certain things; how the chemistry is; the way they bond, the way they connect.

"I think the biggest thing is just our unity, us being connected, understanding what the goal is and them playing together, playing unselfishly. We have a lot of versatile players; guys that can move to different positions; I think we have a lot of size and strength on this team; I think we have guards that can defend and have good quickness and speed."

Gordon said he wanted to see "how quickly I could pick up the college material." The 6-8 forward will be coached by Sean Miller at Arizona, and he said that both share a disgust for losing.

"He's a lot like me. He's got a lot of fire, he hates to lose," Gordon said of Miller.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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