Vanderbilt sharpshooter John Jenkins was selected to represent the United States at the World University Games in China on Wednesday. The 12-man team, comprised of some of the nation's top returning collegiate players, will head to China on August 8th and compete in the 10-day event beginning August 13th and running through August 23rd.
Jenkins, a rising junior, has been considered one of the nation's top shooters since he arrived at Vanderbilt two years ago. Last season, the Hendersonville, Tennessee native set a Commodore record for most points by a player during his sophomore season. The All-SEC first team selection also led the entire league in season scoring with 19.5 points per game, as well as in scoring in league only games with 20.8 points per game. A deadly outside shooter, some seen his addition to Team USA to be a tipping point that could lead to a championship for the Americans.
"The U18 USA team struggled because it didn't have a go-to shooter. This team has one of the elite perimeter shot makers in the college ranks in Jenkins," National Hoops Reports Justin Young wrote upon the announcement of Team USA. "He's a sniper from deep and teams won't be able to pack it in around the U.S. team."
Jenkins will be joined by fellow Southeastern Conference players JaMychal Green of Alabama and Darius Miller of Kentucky. Others on the 12-man squad include Michigan State forward Draymond Green, Missouri guard Marcus Denmon, Notre Dame forward Tim Abromaitis, Minnesota forward Trevor Mbakwe, Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine, Pittsburgh guard Ashton Gibbs, Cal-Santa Barbara wing Orlando Johnson, Detroit guard Ray McCallum and Yale center Greg Mangano.
"I think your strengths are going to come out in competition, and we have some very good players," said Team USA head coach Matt Painter, who previously assisted the 2009 USA U19 World Championship Team to a gold medal and currently serves as the head coach at Purdue University. "I think we have some good point-guard play, some good, athletic wings that can shoot the basketball and then we have some good interior strength. So, I think we have balance. We do have some interchangeable parts, some guys at the three and four positions that can swing either way. We can play smaller and we can play bigger. It will depend on who we are playing against. I do think we can play a couple of different ways, and that's always a positive."
The 12-member team was selected following a sessions of tryouts earlier this week in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Twenty-one players auditioned for the team including notable cuts such as Alabama's Tony Mitchell, U-Conn's Shabazz Napier, Texas A&M's Khris Middleton, Missouri's Kim English and West Virginia's Aaric Murray.
The player selections were made by the 2009-12 USA Basketball Men's Junior National Committee. In addition to committee chair and Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, the committee also includes NCAA appointees Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar, Illinois head coach Bruce Weber and North Carolina head coach Roy Williams. The committee also includes athlete representative and former Duke standout Jay Williams, a member of the 2002 USA World Championship Team.
Members of Team USA will continue to train twice a day at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs until this Sunday. They will then travel to China on Monday.
Team USA will play an exhibition game against Chinese professional team New Century in Huizho, China on August 11th.
USA will open World University Games play on August 13th against Mexico. Team USA has been slotted into Pool D, along with Mexico, Finland, Hungary, Israel and South Korea. The team will play Hungary on August 14th, South Korea on August 15th, Finland on August 17th and then Israel on August 18th.
Twenty-four countries will compete in the international competition. Following the preliminary round of pool play, the top two placed teams from each pool will advance to the medal quarterfinals, which will be contested on August 20th. The semifinals are scheduled for August 21st, and the championship final will be held on August 22nd.
The United States has been a juggernaut in the World University Games over the years, compiling a 131-8 overall record in the event since it started in 1965, with 13 gold medal finishes. Team USA is looking to atone for 2009's bronze medal finish, after falling to Russia 69-68 in the semifinals.
The World University Games, or Universiade, are held every other year and are organized by the International University Sports Federation or FISU. The World University Games is a series of athletic events open to men and women who were born between January 1, 1987 and December 31, 1993, and is or has been within the past year, a student at a college or university.
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