For the first time since 2001, the United States Junior National team will return home from the Douai Junior World Championships with more than great snap shots of the French scenery. The Nike sponsored team claimed the tournament title with a thrilling victory over Turkey and rode the great play of future North Carolina point guard Tywon Lawson to the championship.
Lawson had a game high 25 points and nine assists in a 94-83 victory over Turkey to claim the first championship for the red, white and blue since Carmelo Anthony piloted a team to the same title. Lawson's efforts earned him the Most Valuable Player award for the tournament.
Malik Hairston, a rising sophomore at the University of Oregon, had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Durant had a valiant effort with 17 points and 10 rebounds in the victory.
Linzy Davis, the head coach of the U.S. Junior National team, says Lawson's showing in France is a good indicator of what kind of player he will be once the Oak Hill product gets to Chapel Hill.
"He can control the whole game like nobody else I've seen," Davis said. "When he gets to North Carolina, they are going to win a National Championship if he controls the games like he did here in France."
Lawson was nothing short of spectacular, says Davis. In fact, Davis didn't shy away from some lofty compliments of his point guard.
"He did it all on offense and defense. He's super fast, he score at will, he locates the open man and defend really well," Davis said. "He's the best guard I've ever coached or coached against over here."
That's saying a lot considering Davis was coached Dejuan Wagner, a lottery pick, and San Antonio Spur point guard Tony Parker, who played for the French junior national team at Douai.
"Tywon proved that he's one of the best around in FIBA and in America," Davis said. "He's a lot like Carmelo. I know they are two totally different players but he's just as effective as Carmelo was."
Lawson was the catalyst for the U.S. team in their pool play meeting against Turkey earlier in the week. He scored on a 15 foot jumper as time expired to give the U.S. team a 78-76 victory.