One of the main favorites for the tournament is of course Team USA. Rodger Bohn explains why this is the case for the first ever U17 World Championship.
Team USA comes in with a ton of talent. They have the big men, the wings, and the playmakers to potentially take home the goal medal if they are working on all cylinders. The major weakness that this team has is the lack of consistent three point shooting, as there is only one “pure” shooter on the team (Brad Beal). Based on talent, the USA offers the most of any team in the tournament. However, they have only been together for a little over a week and there will likely be chemistry issues that will open up the door for other squads.
Andre Drummond, 6’11, C, 2012- The consensus #1 high school player in the country for 2012 has drawn comparisons ranging from Dwight Howard to Amare Stoudemire, and they aren’t too far fetched. Drummond is a powerful big man who is an explosive leaper, but is also skilled enough to step out and shoot the 18 foot jumper and handle the ball in the open court. He needs to play hard every game, but when he does, he is an incredibly dominant big man.
Michael Gilchrist, 6’7, SF, 2011- Many consider Gilchrist to be the top player in the class of 2011. He’s a jack of all trades, in that he can handle, defend, shoot, and post a little…but doesn’t do any aspect especially well. Gilchrist plays very hard on each and every possession out on the floor and will be a fun player to watch in Germany. He has verbally committed to Kentucky.
Marquis Teague, 6’2, PG, 2011- The younger brother of Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague has the potential to be better by the time it’s all said and done. He’s more of a scoring point at this point, but is super long, athletic, and plays great defense when he wants to. Teague is considered by most to be the best point guard in the class of 2011. He has verbally committed to Kentucky.
Brad Beal, 6’4, SG, 2011- The Florida commit doesn’t have the NBA potential of the guys above him, but will very well be the leading scorer for the USA. He is a very polished player who can put points on the board in a variety of ways. The only things that really hold him back are his lack of ideal size for a shooting guard and lack of elite athleticism.
James McAdoo, 6’9, PF, 2011- McAdoo is a nice big man who combines a nice skill set with solid athleticism. He can step out and shoot the 15 foot jumper and also score with his back to the basket. McAdoo is not the toughest player though, which may hurt him in International play. He is committed to North Carolina.
Johnny O’Bryant, 6’9, PF, 2011- O’Bryant is a very interesting talent. He owns an advanced offensive game, able to hit jumpers out to the International three point line but also score in the pivot. He is a good rebounder and shot blocker as well, which should keep him on the floor for quite some time. Johnny’s major problem centers around his lack of strength and consistent effort on the floor.
Adonis Thomas, 6’6, SF, 2011- Thomas is another player who will likely play a large chunk of minutes for the US. The long small forward is a great perimeter defender and has an emerging offensive game. He has improved his jumpshot quite a bit over the last two years and owns a really nice first step. His ball handling is still not great, but the athletic wing is still able to get by people on the perimeter.
Tony Wroten, 6’5, PG/SG, 2011- Wroten was one of the better players in this group last summer, but suffereed a terrible leg injury this past year that forced him to miss his entire high school season. The lefty playmaker can play either guard position equally well and is already adept at running the pick and roll. Wroten just struggles exploding past people off of the dribble now-a-days since he is still recovering from his injury, but should still help the US team quite a bit.
Justin Anderson, 6’5, SG, 2012- Anderson is a super athlete whose skill set is beginning to catch up. He is a capable shooter from beyond the arc and is deadly in transition , but needs to improve on his handle if he hopes to reach his maximum potential. Justin is a very good defender and remains one of the better shooting guards in the class of 2012.
Quinn Cook, 6’2, PG, 2011- Cook is a very smart point guard who can act as both a scorer and a playmaker. He is a coach’s dream in that he will do whatever you ask of him and will not complain if he does not see too much time on the hardwood. He’s not as talented as the guys listed above him, but will likely play more than some of them due to his high basketball IQ.
Tony Parker, 6’9, PF, 2012- Parker is a bigtime space eater with soft hands and soft touch around the basket. He will likely be brought in during situations that the other bigs get in foul trouble, but will probably not get too much playing time throughout the tournament.
Chasson Randle, 6’1, PG, 2011- Randle has been one of the faster rising players this spring on the AAU circuit and offers a lot of potential. He can provide help at either guard spot and can really get to the rim with the best of them. Although he may not play a lot initially, he definitely has the potential to contribute given the opportunity.
Rodger Bohn is the National PUNKS Editor for SLAM Magazine. You can follow Rodger as well through his Twitter Account @rodgerbohn