COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. --- Incoming Arizona freshman Stanley Johnson and four Wildcats recruiting targets were among the 15 finalists kept for the USA Basketball’s U18 team today.
Along with Johnson, who is expected to be one of the standouts for the team in the U18 Americas Championship later this month, guard Allonzo Trier, guard Isaiah Briscoe and big men Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter made the cut to 15. All four class of 2015 players are still considering Arizona.
However, UA commits Tyler Dorsey and Justin Simon were not named finalists.
The team will further reduce to 12 players for the U18 Americas Championship, which will serve as a qualifier for the 2015 U19 World Championship.
The updated roster can be found here.
Before the decisions were announced, Johnson was confident of his chances and, really, he had no reason not to be. While stats from the scrimmages played this week are not being made public, it was no secret that Johnson was one of the best if not the best players in the trials.
Johnson said his previous experience with USA Basketball teams helped him know what to do.
"It’s not a showcase," Johnson said. "It’s a team USA practice, so you show what you can do. Defend, rebound, do the team things. Since I've been here a lot I know that. if I do those things I’ll make the team. For me I’m a little more comfortable. "
Players and coaches were not available for comment this morning after the decisions were announced, and men's national team director Sean Ford said the organization prefers not to address the specific skills or attributes that led to their decisions.
When asked specifically about Briscoe and Trier making the cut to 15, Ford said: "They're very athletic and can kind of play multiple positions. But that doesn’t mean the other guys can’t do the same thing. The committee felt they wanted to look at them a little bit more.
"It's kind of inappropriate for us to talk about what a player did or didn’t do. As a group (we feel) the 15 would give us the best chance of playing at the highest level."
Ford offered the players who didn't make the cut something to think about.
"I said right before I read off the list that eight years ago I was reading off the finalists for U18 and one of the finalists I didn’t read was Blake Griffin," Ford said. "Everyone’s going to benefit from this experience -- the players who were finalists and even the players who weren’t."