Two high school juniors and a senior have been named to USA Basketball's Junior World Championship Qualifying Team following three days of trials (May 30-June 1) at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Al Jefferson (right), a 6-10, 280 pound center from Pentiss (MS) High School, and Brian Johnson, a 6-9, 220 pound center from Bishop O'Connell High School in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, were named to the 16-member squad.
Jefferson and Johnson are ranked number 1 and 3 by Rivals.com among centers in the Class of 2004. Johnson made the team even though, as reported by Jason Parten of CarolinaBlue.com, he injured his knee on the first night of tryouts. Johnson will be wearing a bulky brace while he recovers.
Mohamed Abukar, a 6-foot-9, 200-pound combination forward from Rancho Bernardo (CA) High School in Escondido, CA who signed with Florida for the 2003-04 season was also named to the team. The other 13 finalists are college players.
The official 12-member USA junior team will be finalized during the team's June 24-July 6 training camp which will be held in Dallas, Texas. That team will also participate in the 2003 Global Games scheduled for Dallas. Featuring 10 teams, the USA will play five games between June 30-July 5. The USA Global Select team was announced earlier. In it's fourth year, the event will also feature men’s junior national teams (ages 21 and under) from Brazil, Yugoslavia, Canada, Puerto Rico, Lithuania, Ukraine and teams from the continent of Africa and the Scandinavian region. The tournament will be played June 29 through July 5 at Southern Methodist University’s Moody Coliseum.
The USA Junior squad then will compete from July 10-20 in the 2003 FIBA Men's Junior World Championship Tournament that was recently moved from Malaysia to Thessaloniki, Greece.
Featuring 16 junior national teams that qualified last summer, the teams have been placed into four groups of four for preliminary round robin play. The top two teams from each group will advance to the medal quarterfinals, while the remainder of the field will compete for 9th - 16th place. The USA has been placed in Group C, joining China, Nigeria and Slovenia.