Kansas’ Bill Self could hold a college basketball coaches convention this upcoming week in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, if he so desired.
Coaches from approximately 30 U.S hoops teams are planning on attending the FIBA Americas under-18 Championship on Sunday through Saturday, Zagsblog.com reported Saturday. The coaches are taking advantage of a new rule letting them attend USA Basketball teams’ games in various international events, even in a recruiting dead period such as this one.
KU coach Self’s 12-player U.S. under-18 men’s national team, which is loaded with elite college basketball prospects, will play its first game of the tourney against Dominican Republic at 5 p.m. Central time on Sunday in Canada.
KU is battling many other schools for three players on the U.S. squad: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, a 6-9 senior forward from Bishop Miege; Matthew Hurt, a 6-9 senior forward from John Marshall High in Rochester, Minn.; and Cole Anthony, 6-2 senior combo guard from Archbishop Molloy High in Briarwood, N.Y.
Quentin Grimes, 6-4 from College Park High in The Woodlands, Texas, has already signed with KU and will be a Jayhawk freshman combo guard this upcoming season.
Anthony is being recruited by KU, Villanova, Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Oregon, Louisville, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Ohio State and others.
“You learn a lot from him,” Anthony said of Self in an interview with Zagsblog.com. “He’s clearly a Hall of Fame coach. He knows his stuff, and I’m just going to try to absorb all the knowledge I can from him. It’s just awesome to get that knowledge."
The U.S. is 53-2 in the FIBA Americas U18 Championships and won gold in 1990, '94, '98, 2006, '10, '12, '14 and '16, while placing second in 2008 and third in 2002.
“The biggest thing that we have to do is create pace and tempo,” Self told Zagsblog.com. “Not only offensively but through our defense as well.”
Self said his U.S. roster brings “versatility to the table. They’re very interchangeable. I can see us playing four little guards around a big. I could see us playing two bigs, two little guards and a three. I think this team has some different things they’ll be able to do, depending on how we stack up against our opponents."
After the round-robin preliminary games Sunday-Tuesday, teams will be seeded within each group. All eight teams advance to the Thursday quarterfinal games, with the semifinals on Friday and finals on Saturday. The top four finishing teams will qualify for the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.
Three Jayhawks in mock draft
KU’s Devonté Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman remain likely candidates to be taken in the second round of the June 21 NBA Draft, ESPN.com reported on Thursday.
Graham is listed as the 11th pick of the second round (Orlando), while Newman is listed as 15th pick of the second round (New Jersey) and Mykhailiuk the 26th pick of the second round (Philadelphia). Billy Preston was not listed as a draft pick.
Power forward Preston, who worked out for the Boston Celtics on Friday, said his shoulder, which he sprained during a short three-game stay in Bosnia last winter, is fully healed.
"A lot of up and downs, but like I said, I'm in the position I want to be, headed to the main goal, which is the NBA, professional basketball, and all I can do is thank God," Preston told masslive.com on Friday. "It's been a rough year, a lot of up and downs, so it's just a blessing I'm still able to continue to do what I've been trying to do this whole time.”