This time next week, John Calipari will be at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado for the U19 World Cup Team training camp. Calipari and his assistants will have eight days to evaluate and coach the 28 camp attendees before the group is narrowed down to a 12-man World Cup roster for competition play in the 2017 FIBA World Cup in Cairo next month.
I’m here now to say let’s save everyone the hassle and select the team without spending all that in Colorado. We can build Cal’s best team right now. So let’s do it…
DESMOND BANE, Guard, TCU (Sophomore)
Leading off our alphabetical order of training campers is reigning NIT champion Desmond Bane of TCU. The sophomore guard started 13 games for the Horned Frogs last season with averages of 7.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game over 31 games played, while leading the team in three-point percentage at .380 (30-for-79).
I’m sure he’s a nice person and will have a lovely career at TCU, but NO.
BOL BOL, Forward/Center, High School (Class of 2018)
Bol Bol is one of the hottest names in the 2018 class these days after being named MVP of the Nike EYBL regular season circuit. The son of former NBA great Manute Bol, Bol Bol averaged 24.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game while shooting 48.9 percent from three-point range in 16 EYBL games.
Considering Bol Bol is one of Calipari’s top targets and Kentucky is the heavy favorite in his recruitment, Bol Bol is a YES for the 12-man roster.
Marques Bolden, Center, Duke (Sophomore)
If Marques Bolden could go back in time, I bet he’d like to redo his commitment to Duke out of high school. The five-star big man was rumored to favor Kentucky over Duke, but chose the Blue Devils at his mother’s encouragement. Whether that’s true or not is irrelevant now, but his freshman season numbers (or lack thereof) prove Duke wasn’t the place to go for first-year success.
Now Bolden has the opportunity to play for Calipari and I think Calipari would love to coach him up to say “I told you so.” Their past relationship, and Calipari’s opportunity to show up Coach K, makes Bolden a YES.
Chaundee Brown, Guard, Wake Forest (Freshman)
Team USA assistant Danny Manning likely played a role in Brown’s invitation to Colorado as Manning recruited him to Wake Forest and will coach him in his freshman season this fall. The 31st-ranked player in the 2017 class, Brown picked Wake Forest over Manning’s old school, Kansas. It was a huge get for Manning, but he won’t have the same influence in getting Brown on the final USA U19 roster. He is a NO.
Devon Daniels, Guard, NC State (Sophomore)
Devon Daniels averaged 10 points per game as a freshman at Utah in 2016-17, but transferred to NC State following the season. A Google search of his name (because I have no idea who he is) brings up a suspension at Utah for conduct detrimental to the team, so he’s a big NO because we do not need detrimental conduct to Team USA.
Hamidou Diallo, Guard, Kentucky (Freshman)
Hamidou Diallo is the safest bet in the field for his obvious ties to Calipari and previous experience with USA Basketball. I don’t see a reason why he should have to show up for camp. Easy YES.
Carsen Edwards, Guard, Purdue (Sophomore)
Carsen Edwards was one of four double-digit scorers for a Purdue team that reached the Sweet 16 last season. Good for him. NO.
Malachi Flynn, Guard, Washington State (Sophomore)
Washington State produced a great guard in Klay Thompson, but Malachi Flynn is no Klay Thompson. NO.
Kevin Huerter, Guard, Maryland (Sophomore)
Sleeper pick! Maryland’s Kevin Huerter is a YES because he is one of only four returning players who played for the U18 team that won Gold in the FIBA Americas Championships last summer. He led that team in three-pointers made and scored 6.8 points per game. He’s in.
Louis King, Forward, Hudson Catholic H.S. (Class of 2018)
2018 wing Louis King has been in contact with Kentucky and he recently said it would be a “privilege” to play there. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. He’s not going to Egypt. NO.
Kevin Knox, Forward, Kentucky (Freshman)
Romeo Langford, Guard, New Albany H.S. (Class of 2018)
By now you should know all about Romeo Langford; if not, he’s the superstar in the making that plays shooting guard across the Ohio River from Louisville in New Albany, Indiana. With Duke, Indiana, and Louisville lined up as UK’s biggest competitors for his services, Calipari will make sure he gets all the one-on-one time he can with Langford this summer. Easy YES.
Brandon McCoy, Forward, UNLV (Freshman)
McDonald’s All-American Brandon McCoy tried out for the U18 team last year and did not make the cut. Good luck to him as he tries again and good luck to him next season at UNLV. NO.
De’Anthony Melton, Guard, USC (Sophomore)
Melton had a nice freshman season at USC where he scored 8.3 points per game and was second on the team with 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He also led the conference with in steals and was named All-Pac-12 Defensive Team honorable mention. Throw him on the team. YES.
Charlie Moore, Guard, Kansas (Sophomore)
Moore transferred to Kansas this fall after starting 34 games at California last year and earning Pac-12 Conference All-Freshman team honors. You’ll probably hear a lot about him once he suits up the Jayhawks in 2018-19. You will not hear about him making Calipari’s U19 team. NO.
Chuma Okeke, Forward, Auburn (Freshman)
Calipari to help develop one of Bruce Pearl’s incoming freshman? NO. Sorry.
Josh Okogie, Guard, Georgia Tech (Sophomore)
Okogie will have a slight edge in the race for a spot due to Calipari’s relationship with his coach, Josh Pastner at Georgia Tech. Outside of that I know nothing about him. So, NO.
Shamorie Ponds, Guard, St. John’s (Sophomore)
Point guard Shamorie Ponds will not be crossing the pond to compete in America. NO.
Payton Pritchard, Guard, Oregon (Sophomore)
No room, bud. NO.
Immanuel Quickly, Guard, John Carroll H.S. (Class of 2018)
Quickley was the first point guard on Calipari’s board for the 2018 class and the second player to receive a scholarship offer. His recruitment is already down to four schools — Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland and Miami — and Calipari will use a trip to Egypt to gain a huge advantage over the other three. There’s no chance he’s not on that flight to Cairo, especially since he plans to make his decision before his senior season. YES.
Cameron Reddish, Forward, Westtown High School (Class of 2018)
Go ahead and pencil Cameron Reddish in as a YES to make the final roster. Reddish is one of only seven high school seniors with a scholarship offer from Kentucky and Calipari will make sure he gets some quality time with Reddish this summer before Reddish begins his senior year of high school.
Mitchell Robinson, Center, Western Kentucky (Freshman)
Five-star center Mitchell Robinson shocked the world by committing to Western Kentucky as one of the top centers in high school basketball last summer. He’ll make the team and compete for the starting center spot before he tears apart Conference USA this fall.
Quinton Rose, Guard, Temple (Sophomore)
Jeremiah Tilmon II, Center, Missouri (Freshman)
Calipari will do nothing to help out Mizzou head coach Cuonzo Martin. NO.
PJ Washington, Forward, Kentucky (Freshman)
Like Diallo and Knox, Washington is an automatic YES for his prior USA experience and current spot in Calipari’s Kentucky program.
Austin Wiley, Center, Auburn (Sophomore)
There’s no room for Auburn’s sophomore center with Bolden, Bol and Robinson already on the list. Sorry. NO.
Kris Wilkes, Forward, UCLA (Freshman)
Incoming UCLA freshman Kris Wilkes was recruited by Calipari, but cut the Cats from his list when UK’s interest started to decline. A top-20 prospect in his class, Wilkes is a great player and will look good in the Pac 12 this fall; however, NO.
Trae Young, Guard, Oklahoma (Freshman)
Trae Young had his chance to play point guard for Calipari. He was the Cats’ priority in the 2017 class to take De’Aaron Fox’s starting PG spot and he let it slip through his hands by waiting too long. Now he’s off to disappear at Oklahoma where he will play four years and his shining moment will be making the second weekend of the NCAA tournament in his senior season. So sorry, Trae. NO to Team USA. You’re not going to take Cal’s coaching into your freshman season of college. Let Lon Kruger develop you.
Here’s your roster…
G – Immanuel Quickley
G – Romeo Langford
G – Kevin Huerter
G – De’Anthony Melton
G – Hamidou Diallo
F – Kevin Knox
F – Cameron Reddish
F – Kris Wilkes
F – P.J. Washington
F – Bol Bol
C – Marques Bolden
C – Mitchell Robinson