Top plays from the 2012 USA Basketball Trials in Colorado Springs
As I drove south from Denver to Colorado Springs, I realized I didn’t need directions any more – I knew where the United States Olympic Training Center was, I knew where the cool part of town was and I knew what to expect during the tryouts for the Under-17 and Under-18 teams.
First, all the players are really good, and they are tall. Oh, and they’re skilled and quick and fast and strong and experienced. First-timers have to adjust to the fact that shots will be blocked that usually aren’t blocked (unless they’re playing against guys) and steals will be made that aren’t usually made.
The 60 best 2013 and 2014 players in the country are in Colorado Springs right now. So one thing that happens: For the most part, kids play hard. In high school and summer ball, players of this caliber seldom face each other. Oh, maybe in a big tournament, and maybe just once, so there’s little reason to get pumped up the rest of the time. But here, you better bring it, and you better bring it every second or you’re going to get embarrassed.
And if you do get embarrassed, you better not hang your head and not hustle. The evaluators sitting at one of the court are watching, and if they see you loaf down the court after a turnover, you might as well turn in your jersey right now. After all, the toughest decisions are going to be made on the smallest of margins, and if you give them a reason to cut you, it just makes their lives easier.
And one other thing: Be aware of the 24-second clock. Many kids have never played with a clock before, or if they have, with a 30-second clock. Twenty-four seconds can evaporate in a hurry, and again, the people who choose the teams are looking for reasons to pick Player A instead of Player B. And if Player B doesn’t know how much time is left on the shot clock, well … it doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way that wind is going to blow.
From my seat, I thought a positive wind blew in the direction of 6-4 Brianna Turner (2014), who showed shot-blocking skills and looked much more comfortable in the afternoon U17 session than she did here last year. Taya Reimer (2013) was her usual impressive self, but newcomer Kai James (2013) showed great footwork to go along with size and strength.
All 12 players from the FIBA Americas gold medal team returned to the U17 tryouts, plus Diamond DeShields has dropped down from the U18 ranks. So at least one girl is going to be seriously disappointed, and maybe more, as there’s a ton of talent knocking on the door itching to earn that trip to Amsterdam for the world championships in August.
That kind of disappointment, though, is to be expected at these tryouts. It’s another thing I’ve gotten used to over the years.