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Sunday, June 24, 2018

USA Basketball Goes “Back to the Future” for U16 Tryouts

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By Clay Kallam
Correspondent

USA Basketball is going back to the future for this spring’s girls’ Under-16 tryouts.

As always, USA Basketball is inviting 30 or so players to try out for the 12-member team that will play in the FIBA Americas U16 championship in Mérida, Mexico in June – but this May 26-30, there’s a twist. Anyone who fills out an application can try out too, as long as they pay their own way for the trip to Colorado Springs.

These kinds of open tryouts have taken place in the past, but USA Basketball finally stepped away from them, in part because of the inherent economic elitism involved. After all, a girl from a family that can more easily come up with the funds for a plane flight for mom and daughter, plus room and board, is much more likely to attend than a girl from a family that’s struggling to pay the rent.

In fairness, though, no system is perfect.

After all, pre-selecting 35 girls (the number invited to stay in the Olympic Training Center) effectively eliminates every other young player in the country from the process, and USA Basketball officials are very aware that young players especially can slip through the cracks.

The selection committee, after all, relies heavily on college coaches for input, and though coaches have a very good line of juniors and seniors, they generally haven’t spent that much time looking at girls who will be high school sophomores and juniors this fall.

There’s also a chance that this open tryout is just the first step on the road to regional tryouts, which would be easier for girls to get to. A possible scenario would be that each regional tryout would produce a team of 12 or so girls, who would then go to Colorado Springs for a final session.

As it is, though, the 150 or so girls who arrive at the Olympic Training Center in May will get thrown into a tryout that will be heavily weighted in favor of guards and posts. The reason? There’s really not much that can be done in three days’ worth of sessions to really analyze that many players, so in the process, possession becomes more important than it should.

For example, a girl who usually makes 20% of her three-pointers might catch fire and make 50%, while the girl who usually makes 50% might make 20%. But the more time a girl has the ball in her hands, the more likely she is to be able to impress the five-person committee – and the guards will have the ball more than anyone in what amounts to three days of pickup basketball.

And of course, tall players will always get noticed, and they’ll have their chances to rebound, block shots and show off the occasional post moves.

Wings? Well, they’d better be extremely athletic, like Diamond DeShields of Georgia, or absolutely maximize their opportunities on the rare occasions when the guards give them the ball.

Regardless, the odds are that the final 12 (though a couple alternates might be selected) will come almost entirely from the 35 invitees, as otherwise it would make the people who picked those 35 in the first place look pretty stupid. Still, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a couple “outsiders” slipped onto the final team as the goal of USA Basketball is to win gold medals, not polish the egos of its committee members.

And it’s expected that the players who play on this team in Mexico in June will have the best chance to make the Under-17 team that will go to the World Championships in 2012, though there will be another tryout next spring for that team.

Don’t expect, however, to see open tryouts in 2012. With another year of observation, it will be much more clear who the primary candidates are, so any young player who wants a shot at USA Basketball should most likely take it right now.

In other words, for these girls, the future is now.

Originally published Mon, May 02, 2011


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NCAA DIVISION I TOP 25 COACHES' POLL
WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Week: February 7, 2012
RANK SCHOOL RECORD LAST WEEK'S RANK PRESEASON RANK AP RANK POINTS
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
(61)
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
(70)
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
(38)
92
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
(18)
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
(13)
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
(23)
NR-RV
(19)
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
Rank remains unchanged since last week
Ranking has risen since last week.
Ranking has dropped since last week.
Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.