The game of basketball has gone worldwide and 10 of America's top young players will travel to France on Thursday for the Douai Junior World Basketball Championships. Leading the way is Oak Hill Academy (Va.) forward Kevin Durant. He'll be joined by his right hand man Tywon Lawson and NCAA studs Rudy Gay and Malik Hairston.
Linzy Davis will take his eighth team to France for the June 9-12 event and like always, he's not short on talent.
Headlining this year's group are 2006 prospects Durant, Lawson,Spencer Hawes, Ramar Smith, DeShawn Sims, Alex Stepheson 2007 prospects Gary Johnson, Jai Lucas and Connecticut's Rudy Gay and Oregon's Malik Hairston.
Davis is excited about the sheer athleticism and speed with this group.
"This group is not a physical team in European standards but our transition basketball and athleticism will definitely be difficult to beat," Davis said.
"You'll find games out there with a shot clock going to 50 to 60 points. We're expecting more along the lines of 80 to 100. More on the 100 side, really. We're going to push, push, push."
Team USA team will compete against teams from Turkey, France, Croatia, Lithuania, Poland, The Netherlands and Slovenia.
"We're the favorite to win it this year," Davis said. "I'm feeling really good about our chances. This one has the pressure on it."
Davis is hoping a visit from Carmelo Anthony, who was the tournament MVP in 2001, will help boost the team's spirit. Anthony will shoot around with the team before the tournament and spend some time with the players, Davis said.
Team USA will have Kevin Eastmon of the Boston Celtics and Durand "Speedy" Walker of the The Family, a Detroit-based Nike AAU program on the sidelines as assistant coaches for the trip. Former UCLA head coach Steve Lavin made the trip last year and coached the team.
In past events, players like Martynas Andriuskevicius, a projected top 5 pick in 2006, have played in the event. Some of the top young European players will be on hand. That means NBA scouts will likely be on hand, too.
The trip also has some recruiting spin to it, too. Last year, Duke point guard Greg Paulus worked on Brian Zoubek, who recently committed to the ACC school, and Jon Brockman, who eventually went to Washington.
This year, Durant will certainly hear it from his friend Lawson and Gay, who stars at UConn. Hairston will also work his Michigan friends - Sims and Smith - to come to Duck country.
Rivals.com will have exclusive updates from Davis from France throughout the event.