Houston, Texas – Training camp for the 2022 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team began on Thursday at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory with 27 players from around the country competing for 12 spots on a team that will eventually head to Tijuana, Mexico for the FIBA Americas Championship from June 6th – 12th.
Colorado’s Tad Boyle is serving as the team’s head coach and being assisted by Oklahoma State’s Mike Boynton and Boise State’s Leon Rice. Arizona’s Tommy Lloyd, SMU’s Rob Lanier, and Colgate’s Matt Langel are other current head coaches participating in the training camp while Purdue’s Matt Painter, Yale’s James Jones, California’s Mark Fox, and TCU’s Jamie Dixon are on hand as part of the selection committee.
Additional college coaches were permitted to attend on Friday and that list included Duke’s Jon Scheyer, Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann, Cincinnati’s Wes Miller, Villanova’s Kyle Neptune, and Oregon’s Dana Altman, along with several others.
NBA scouts are expected to be in attendance Saturday and Sunday.
The 27-player roster is comprised of players from the high school graduating classes of 2021 all the way to 2024 with 10 players in the class of 2022 and 15 in the class of 2023.
Jackson Defends Number One Ranking
Just days after taking over the number one overall spot in the Top247 rankings for the national class of 2023, North Carolina pledge GG Jackson looked every bit as good as advertised on Friday night.
He competed and played with a high-motor from start to finish, which allowed his athleticism to shine through on both ends of the floor. He was a lob threat, even in the half-court, and also very active rebounding the ball off both backboards, displaying very soft hands in the process.
While we know Jackson has increasingly versatile skill, he’s clearly focused on maximizing his efficiency in this setting and consequently playing with just the right inside-out approach that should give him the best chance of making the final roster.
Regardless of what happens for the remainder of the camp, Jackson was the best high school frontcourt player on the floor on Friday night.
Collier Makes His Point
The word coming into Friday night’s session was that the coaching staff was asking Isaiah Collier to assert himself and make his presence felt more than he had in the first two sessions.
He clearly received the message.
Collier wasn’t just the best point guard from the high school ranks on Friday night, he had the best showing of any point guard regardless of class.
The big, power guard put on a passing masterclass. He made all the right reads coming off the pick-and-roll, threw darts off the dribble with both hands, used his size to throw over the top of smaller defenders, and was especially adept at collapsing the defense and then spraying out to shooters. As his confidence grew throughout the course of the night, he began to get downhill and overpower less physical guards as well.
Booker Show the Tools
Xavier Booker, who just made a dramatic jump to No. 4 in the Top247, has had a number of “wow” moments throughout the first two days.
He was reportedly all over the rims both Thursday night and Friday morning (both of which were closed to the media), and again showed flashes of brilliance on Friday night. There were big dunks, a couple of soft face-up jumpers, and an effortless way of running the floor with long and bouncy strides.
The next step, is filling the gaps between those flashes, so that he is consistently able to impact the game on both ends of the floor. For all of Booker’s obvious tools and talent, there are just too many moments when he doesn’t make his presence felt on the court.
If and when that happens, his long-term upside could be as good as anyone’s in the class.
Others Who Impressed
- Omaha Biliew was extremely active. He competed on the glass, ran the floor, was quick to 50/50 balls, and hammered two of the bigger dunks of the night. He also has a knack for getting fouled, an underrated talent, and getting himself to the free-throw line.
- Ja’Kobe Walter was aggressive from start to finish. Offensively, that included both moments of inefficiency and tough shot-making. Defensively though, he made his mark. He did a good job of containing smaller guards off the dribble, forced a few turnovers with his ball pressure, and stood out with his overall activity level.
- Overtime Elite’s Bryson Warren also played well on Friday night. The scoring guard showed flashes of his ability to score at different levels, knocking down threes and making crafty finishes inside the lane, but showed a solid feel-for-the-game as well. He played with pace, made some heady passes in the lane, maneuvered ball-screens, and used his body to hold off contact effectively.