Texas signees Jarrett Allen and James Banks are one step closer to playing for Team USA.
Both incoming freshmen made the first roster cut for this summer’s USA Basketball Under-18 team and will advance to the next training camp in Houston in July.
Allen and Banks, both 6-foot-10, are among 18 finalists aiming to be a part of the 12-man roster that will compete in the FIBA Americas U18 championship in Valdivia, Chile. Preliminary play begins July 19.
On the surface, it would appear Allen and Banks have someone who can grease the skids. Texas coach Shaka Smart, who signed both players, is Team USA’s Under-18 coach. However, Smart is just one coach on a panel making up the USA junior national team selection committee.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie and Maryland coach Mark Turgeon are Smart’s assistants.
“This was a great group, one of the most competitive groups we’ve ever had for this age group,” said committee chairman Jim Boeheim, the longtime Syracuse coach. “This will be a really good team.
“They have a great coaching staff and this is a group of finalists that has size, it’s got quality point guards and shooting guards, it’s got very good depth,” Boeheim said in a statement. “It’s a really well-balanced group. I think it’s one of the most well-balanced groups we’ve ever had at U18.”
Texas fans will keep tabs on Allen and Banks. But add Oak Hill Academy guard Matt Coleman to the watch list. The Longhorns would love to land Coleman, considered the ninth-best point guard nationally in the 2017 recruiting class.
Coleman, one of the 18 finalists, told Orangebloods that playing for Smart this summer does give him insight to what it would be like with the Longhorns.
“And then him instructing right now, you get that vibe how he coaches his guys,” Coleman said after a training session in Colorado Springs, Colo., according to Orangebloods. “I just knew he was always a player’s coach. He’s always into it. High intensity.”