Months remain until the final roster is announced. Before USA Basketball knows which 12 NBA players will represent the country at the World Cup in the Philippines next summer, it may be May, June, or even July.
That in no way implies that Americans are just waiting.
Start recruiting now. The U.S.’s top three decision-makers, managing director Grant Hill, national team director Sean Ford, and coach Steve Kerr are actively working to encourage players to consider donning the red, white, and blue during the 2023 World Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
“So far, it’s been absolutely great, some favorable momentum,” says Hill. I’ve had conversations with people who have recently participated in the program, as well as some who haven’t but have developed into terrific athletes who we think would fit in the international game. It is beautiful, in contrast to our game. Even though it’s a delicate dance, it’s entertaining.
Remember that 52 players were invited or committed at various points for the 2019 World Cup; 40 were not on the team that ultimately made it to China for a discouraging seventh-place finish. A lot of names will trickle out over the upcoming weeks and months. Atlantan Trae Young has stated his desire to participate. Tyler Herro of Miami won’t say no. The Americans’ roster-assembly strategy will be straightforward: a few versatile and mobile bigs, many ballhandlers, and many shooters.
Health, how far a player’s NBA club advances in the playoffs, potential contract status, and let’s not even think about how chaotic putting together a World Cup team would be if the league experiences labor unrest and enters a lockout this summer all factor into decisions. The team will begin practicing in late July, and if everything goes according to plan, they will start competing in the three-week tournament in mid-September, just a few weeks before the start of the NBA training camps.
We’re just keeping having these discussions. Hill said, “talking about our vision and how we picture specific guys being a part of it.” And many men have shown a great deal of interest in the concept.
Hill, Ford, and Kerr have a card to play that the previous staff hasn’t had.
The United States, they claim, is being degraded.
With all due respect to the World Cup, the Olympics are the most significant competition on the world sports calendar. The Americans are the four-time defending Olympic winners. But a few weeks ago, Spain overtook the U.S. in the world rankings compiled by FIBA—the sport’s international governing body—thanks to victories at the 2019 World Cup and the EuroBasket competition.
It had been 12 years since the United States had been the top-ranked men’s team.
Naturally, this might persist, said FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis. It is in their hands and the teams’ hands competing for the top spot in the rankings. Whoever wins home the Naismith Trophy on September 10th of next year is ultimately what matters.
He’s correct. The Americans, though, are not overjoyed by the placement.
Hill remarked, “First off, you completely accept the rankings and the methodology utilized to select.” You dislike that, I see. What you hear doesn’t appeal to you. And while I believe we have some pride in the sport and our past successes, returning to those heights is both an opportunity and a driving force for us. Without a doubt, we can correct and improve it from the recruitment perspective. And as a result, that has been used and will be used.
It won’t be simple. When Gregg Popovich took over for Coach K as the U.S. coach, Mike Krzyzewski had been saying for years that the rest of the world is catching up to — or has caught — the Americans the international game. In 2019, Kobe Bryant declared it out loud, and when the United States faltered in China, he was proven correct.
Victor Wembanyama, the expected first overall choice in the draught, and Joel Embiid could both play for France if he chooses them over an offer to play for the United States, which would make him a truly international free agent. Luka Doncic will be in Slovenia. Spain is still Spain, too.
USA Basketball is now traveling in the right direction.
Hill says, “We want to select a roster that offers us a chance to win gold.” That is the strategy. I feel we are moving in that direction, and I owe it to our coaching staff and program.