Following eights days of training, the 12-player USA Basketball Junior World Championship Team roster was finalized on July 2 and features University of Oklahoma sophomore guard De'Angelo Alexander.
Joining Alexander as members of the 2003 USA Junior World Championship Team were Maurice Ager (Michigan State); Daniel Brown (Illinois); Graham Brown (Michigan); David Burgess (Woodbridge [Calif.] High School); Paul Davis (Michigan State); Ryan Hollins (UCLA); Kevin Pittsnogle (West Virginia); J.J. Redick (Duke); Mustafa Shakur (Philadelphia [Pa.] Friends Central); C.J. Watson (Tennessee) and Deron Williams (Illinois).
Ernie Kent, University of Oregon's successful head coach who also served as head coach of the USA junior qualifying team last summer, is again head mentor of the 2003 USA junior squad. He is being assisted by Dennis Felton of the University of Georgia and Ray Harper of Kentucky Wesleyan College.
"For me as a head coach this has been one of the most difficult things to do because I believe in saving kids not letting kids go. But unfortunately we had to cut this down to 12 pplayers," remarked Kent. "This was very challenging, probably one of the more challenging times because the quality of the players was so even. We had to go through a lot of different practices and look at a lot of things before we could finally come up with this final 12."
Alexander averaged 7.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 20.1 minutes per game last season for the 27-7 Sooners. The 6-4, 215-pounder shot .350 from three-point range and .728 from the free throw line. Alexander, who hails from Midwest City, Okla., was named to the Big 12 All-Reserve Team for his efforts.
On June 19, Alexander was one of five additions to the original list of U.S. Junior World Championship Team finalists. His participation in the 2003 USA Basketball Mens National Team Trials May 30-June 1 in Colorado Springs, Colo., was limited due to a sprained ankle.
The USA Junior squad will compete July 10-20 in the 2003 FIBA Men's Junior World Championship 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 second round, 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. The USA will open play against Slovenia on July 10, and face China on July 11 and Nigeria on July 12. Second round action is being played July 14-16, while the world championship semifinals slated to be held July 19 and the finals will be played July 20.
Eligibility for the 2003 USA Basketball Men's Junior World Championship Team is limited to any male athlete who is a U.S. citizen and 19-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1984). The USA team finalists were selected by the USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee.
The USA squad features six members who have participated in previous USA Basketball competitions, including the starting backcourt of last summer's Junior World Championship Qualifying Team that finished 4-1, earned the bronze medal and qualified the United States for the 2003 FIBA Junior World Championship. Members of the 2002 junior qualifying team are University of Illinois starting guards Daniel Brown and Williams. Also possessing prior USA Basketball experience are Alexander (2002 USA Junior National Team Trials, 2001 Youth Development Festival), Davis (2001 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival), Redick (2001 and 2001 USA Basketball Youth Development Festivals) and Shakur (2002 USA Basketball Junior National Team Trials).