We highlighted Monday how the first round of ten roster cuts were made in Colorado Springs. See that article for a detailed breakdown of the methodology behind how this team was put together, as well as an assessment of the USA Basketball philosophy, as we saw it from the outside looking in.
After three additional practice sessions Sunday and Monday, four more players were released, whittling the final roster down to 12 players which will travel to the Czech Republic on June 22nd for the U19 World Championship.
Here are the four players who were let go on Monday.
The Villanova point guard struggled for the most part throughout his first few sessions at Colorado Springs, but lived to see another day initially, likely thanks to his experience playing with USA Basketball as well as his team first mentality and playmaking skills. Eventually the coaching staff elected to go with the superior athleticism, defensive prowess and versatility of Marcus Smart, Nigel Williams-Goss and Elfrid Payton over him on the final roster, though.
Featuring very good size at 6-3, but below average athleticism, Arcidiacono is a creative ball-handler who shows nice ability to play at different speeds and keep defenders off balance. Unfortunately his underwhelming first step and lack of strength made it difficult for him to be very effective as a finisher inside the arc—something that was clearly an issue for him as a freshman as well, as indicated by his sub-par (37%) 2-point percentage. He also was extremely streaky from beyond the arc in Colorado Springs, really struggling to get anything going with his perimeter shot for long stretches, and also having a difficult time keeping opponents in front of him defensively. Arcidiacono will have to step up his play on both ends of the floor if he's to make strides in his sophomore season at Villanova and help his team return to the NCAA Tournament, even if his size, court vision, ball-handling and creativity are very interesting attributes to work with long term.
The Pittsburgh point guard didn't do anything spectacular in his initial few days in Colorado Springs, which is perhaps exactly why he was invited to continue on with the team after the first batch of cuts were made. Robinson is a steady and consistent pass-first point guard who runs the team effectively, doesn't make mistakes, and understands his role. His physical limitations hurt his potential as a high-level half-court creator and perimeter defender, and he must continue to improve the consistency of his outside shot. Robinson's basketball IQ and unselfish mentality will continue to make him a popular figure amongst coaches for a long time, but this USA team needed more athleticism, defense and perimeter shooting than he was able to provide.
A somewhat unique player who does not yet display clearly defined strengths and weaknesses, Damyean Dotson showed a great deal of versatility during his time in Colorado Springs, which undoubtedly helped his cause in surviving the first round of cuts.
A solid athlete who is extremely aggressive both in transition and in the half-court, Dotson is a streaky shooter who made just enough outside jumpers to lead you to believe that this could become a strength for him down the road. He can take what the defense gives him off the dribble and finishes reasonably well around the basket, even if his advanced ball-handling skills are improvable and he's not what you'd call an exceptional athlete.
Dotson contributes as a rebounder and defender as well, even if he doesn't really excel in any area yet. He had a promising enough freshman season to put himself on the radar screen after being somewhat unheralded coming out of high school, and will be interesting to continue to track to see how he develops down the road.
Dotson eventually didn't make the final cut for this USA squad, likely due to his shortcomings as a decision maker and perimeter shooter. Those are two areas he'll have to work on to improve his pro prospects as well.
Marcus Georges-Hunt displayed some intriguing versatility in his first few days in Colorado Springs, surviving the first round of cuts by doing a little bit of everything in the scrimmages.
Showing good size, a strong build, and solid length for a wing player, Georges-Hunt is a good rebounder on both ends of the floor, a willing passer, and has very nice potential defensively thanks to his physical tools. He is capable of hitting an open 3-pointer, but is ultimately not enough of a knock-down guy to really be considered a pure shooter, having only made 33% of his attempts from beyond the arc last season.
Not an exceptional athlete or ball-handler, which limits his ability to create high-percentage opportunities in the half-court, Georges-Hunt has solid potential to continue to improve on his deficiencies and keep making strides as a sophomore on what appears to be a fairly talented Georgia Tech team that could make some noise in the ACC. The USA staff ultimately preferred to go with specialists here, though, especially those with experience in international play.
From Colorado Springs, the US U19 team will head to Washington D.C. for three days of training at the Washington Wizards practice facility before they take off for Prague. Here's how the final roster breaks down.
The last player added to the roster as he initially snuck under the radar due to the fact that he's a rare rising college junior who is 19 years old, Louisiana-Lafayette point guard Elfrid Payton was an interesting find here, and someone we'll surely be keeping close tabs on in the future.
Sporting excellent size for a point guard at 6-4, to go along with a long wingspan and an underdeveloped frame that should fill out nicely in time, Payton is a solid athlete with nice versatility on both ends of the floor. He's a talented ball-handler who can create his own shot effectively in the half-court and is excellent in transition, allowing him to play above the rim with regularity. He has a good first step and solid playmaking instincts, giving him nice potential on the pick and roll when combined with his intriguing creativity.
Still a fairly raw prospect, Payton has plenty of room to improve as a perimeter shooter, only making sixteen of his fifty 3-point attempts during his freshman season after not making a single outside shot as a freshman. His mechanics don't look all that bad, so he could likely improve this facet of his game with repetition. He clearly lacks experience against high-level competition, as his left hand is underdeveloped, he can be somewhat turnover prone in the half-court, and he doesn't always have the strength to finish everything he creates for himself around the basket.
Where Payton might show the best potential long-term is on the defensive end, as his excellent size, long arms and strong anticipation skills allow to make plenty of plays in the form of steals, blocks, rebounds and deflections. He shows very good instincts here and could develop nicely on this end of the floor as he continues to get stronger and garner more experience.
A pleasant surprise here, Payton brings a dimension of size, athleticism, creativity and versatility on both ends of the floor that Team USA might be able to utilize, even if his inconsistent perimeter shooting might not be the best fit for international basketball. Nevertheless, he'll be a prospect NBA scouts will want to follow closely next season.
Projected to be one of the most important players on the roster going into this event, Sulaimon did little to disprove that notion here in Colorado Springs in front of his college coach Mike Kryzewski.
Despite being hampered somewhat by an injured wrist (suffered here diving for a loose ball), Sulaimon showed the same blend of versatility and smarts that made him such a highly touted high school recruit, spending considerable time running the point guard position during the scrimmages and not really looking out of place.
He was terrific in transition, unselfish creating for others in the half-court, extremely intense on the defensive end, and rarely made any mistakes. When the opposing defense was practicing their 2-3 zone, he quickly showed the perils of doing so against the US squad in a real game, knocking down a barrage of 3-pointers that had to put the US coaching staff at ease. After making 37% of his 3-point attempts as a freshman at Duke, Sulaimon will have to continue to shoot the ball consistently to keep international defenses honest and provide his big men and slashing guards with the spacing they need to take advantage of their superior physical attributes. While Sulaimon still has work to do with pull-up jumper, as a finisher around the basket, and as an all-around creator in the half-court, he brings plenty of other things to the table that would lead you to believe that he'll have a long career at the NBA level as long as he continues to improve.
Far more mature than you'd expect considering he's only 18 years old, Nigel Williams-Goss established himself right from the start as one of the leaders of this Team USA squad, showing terrific poise and unselfishness as a facilitator in the half-court.
Good in the pick and roll, and very aggressive pushing the ball up the floor, Williams-Goss is a willing passer and is constantly talking on both ends of the floor, which made him a natural to continue on to the next stage of tryouts after the first round of roster cuts were made. He shows very good potential as a point guard, even if his average athleticism and somewhat inconsistent outside shot may limit his long-term upside to a certain extent. He shows an average first step and isn't always able to blow by opponents in the half-court, which makes it difficult to create high-percentage shots for himself around the basket. His very strong mentality leaves plenty of optimism regarding how he'll address this in the future, though, and there's very little doubt that he was an absolutely huge get for Lorenzo Romar at Washington and someone we'll be following closely to see how his college career evolves.
A consistent contributor as a freshman, earning a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team, Michael Frazier came in at a significant advantage having played for Billy Donovan at Florida already. He showed that he's worthy of a roster spot on his own merit here in Colorado Springs, though, quickly establishing himself as one of the best shooters on the team—no surprise considering he shot 47% from beyond the arc this season—but also contributing to his team's ball-movement and putting a strong effort in defensively.
Frazier is near-automatic with his feet set but can also make a shot with a hand in his face, even if you rarely see him take a bad shot. He appears to be a very good athlete but doesn't show that very often due to his underdeveloped ball-handling skills. All in all, he's not someone that stands out on first glance but is exactly the type of player who can play an extremely important role against international competition on a team like this, simply by spacing the floor, playing solid defense and not making mistakes.
The leader of last summer's USA Basketball squad that won the U18 FIBA Americas Championship, Marcus Smart was available to join this U19 team after surprisingly electing to pass on entering the 2013 Draft, where he likely would have been a top-5 pick.
Smart (re)established himself right off the bat as the leader of this team in the first few minutes of scrimmaging after the team was brought together, setting the tone for how this team is going to earn it's keep. He was diving on the floor for loose balls, driving to the rim with reckless abandon, and playing terrific defense on anyone he was matched up against. When your best player is the toughest, most competitive guy in the gym at all times, and is so willing and happy to sacrifice his body for the sake of the team, it makes it that much easier for the rest of the roster to fall in line.
While Smart's jumper wasn't falling all that consistently during the scrimmages, he made up for it in other areas, setting screens, posting up inside, making the extra pass, grabbing offensive rebounds, chasing down blocks in transition, and drawing fouls at will. He is somewhat of a power forward in a point guard's body, seemingly enjoying taking contact around the paint with his ripped frame, playing with terrific aggressiveness and absolutely no ego.
It goes without saying that it's an incredible luxury for the coaching staff and USA Basketball to have a player like Smart leading the team, and it should increase this team's chances of coming away with the gold exponentially.
The youngest player on the roster, more than two years younger than seven of his teammates making the final cut, Justise Winslow started off the camp slowly, but eventually showed why he's such a highly sought after prospect.
Winslow doesn't look the part of someone who just turned 17 just a few months ago, as he sports a strong, mature frame that helps him significantly against the older players. The son of former NBA draft pick Rickie Winslow (who also played in Spain, France, Italy and Turkey), he is very mature off the court as well, carrying himself with confidence and humility, which easily allowed him to fit into the group.
Winslow is a physical, high energy wing player with an excellent feel for the game. He is extremely competitive defensively, but is a terrific passer on top of that, looking like a real team player, which undoubtedly helped his cause significantly in making this squad. He is very good in transition, and also a solid rebounder, even if his skill-level in the half-court, particularly his perimeter shooting ability, still needs a good amount of work.
It will be interesting to see how much Winslow is able to contribute on this squad after being arguably the most important player on the USA Basketball U17 World Championship squad last summer. He'll likely have to take somewhat of a back seat to the older players on the roster, but should be ready to step in and provide energy when called upon.
Likely the best athlete on the roster, Aaron Gordon will undoubtedly play an important role on this squad, as he proved to be one of the most versatile players in attendance throughout the training camp in Colorado Springs.
Watch this Dunk (trust us)
Showing an extremely unique blend of physical attributes, intensity and smarts, Gordon set the tone right off the bat with his no-nonsense attitude, having no qualms whatsoever about going into the paint and making his presence felt. He grabbed seemingly every loose ball that came off the defensive glass, often skying well high above the rim to do so, and then sometimes initiating the break on his own. He also showed a little bit of a post game, utilizing his superior quickness and aggressiveness to score points, despite not possessing an overly advanced back to the basket arsenal or the thickest frame around. Defensively, Gordon was everywhere, switching out onto guards, making plays at the rim, and playing with a fantastic motor to compliment his tremendous athleticism.
While Gordon isn't the most skilled player around—his ball-handling skills in the half-court are somewhat crude, and his jump-shot still very much on the streaky side—he impressed again and again with his terrific passing ability. He's an extremely unselfish player who reads the floor well and finds the open man consistently for easy baskets. Although question marks remain about how effectively he'll score in the half-court early on in his career until his skill-level increases and his frame fills out, his high basketball IQ will certainly help him contribute in other areas in the meantime.
Even though it still seems like Gordon's biggest advantages lie as a mismatch threat at the power forward position—both facing the basket or making plays around the rim—he's likely talented enough to make it work wherever he plays. Arizona is indeed planning on starting him at small forward next season according to what we've been told, but he'll see a good amount of time at power forward as well. Either way, Gordon has to be considered one of the top prospects in next year's draft class, and he'll be heavily scouted on this USA Basketball team in Prague.
The Syracuse forward continues to fill out his frame impressively, now standing at 6-9 and 215 pounds according to what he told us in the interview below. He's going to wow NBA scouts immediately just on first glance with his physical potential, even if he still has plenty of room to improve with his skill-level.
Grant's phenomenal size, length, frame and mobility will allow him to guard multiple positions and play a variety of roles on this USA Basketball squad. He's often the one assigned to bother the player in-bounding the ball, and will likely play a significant role at the top of USA's full-court press, as well as rotating over for traps in the corners, and doubling the low-post. His wingspan and strong anticipation skills allow him to make his presence felt in the passing lanes, making deflections, and coming up with plenty of blocks, steals and rebounds.
Offensively, Grant is very much a work in progress still. His ball-handling skills are fairly poor, making it difficult for him to create his own shot effectively in the half-court. He's also not a great outside shooter at this stage, not showing the best mechanics but also not looking very confident stepping into his jumper when open. Part of the reason for this is because of how much of a team player he is, as he at times seemingly prefers to make the extra pass instead of looking for his own points. With his strong first step and ability to run the floor he often finds himself in position to score around the basket, but is still working on knowing how to finish effectively, particularly through contact.
All in all, Grant is an extremely interesting long-term prospect, even if he's clearly still at a very early stage of his development. His primary impact will be felt defensively on this team, but NBA scouts will be watching closely to see what kind of potential he shows on the other end of the floor as well.
After a solid freshman season in the ACC, Mike Tobey followed his head coach Tony Bennett (an assistant on this team) to Colorado Springs and was able to earn a spot on the final roster.
Tobey is one of the tallest players on the team at 6-11, and has a solid frame as well. His upper body is pretty developed for a big man his age, even if his lower body strength still needs some work.
Not a particularly impressive athlete, Tobey's best attributes revolve around his high skill-level. He can operate effectively with his back to the basket, showing a nice jump-hook shot he can get off with either hand, and can step away from the rim as well and knock down a mid-range jumper. He's also a solid passer on top of that, making him one of the more versatile big men on this roster offensively.
Where Tobey struggles at times against high-caliber competition is holding his own defensively and on the glass. He lacks some physicality banging with stronger big men, getting pushed around somewhat , and can get beaten off the dribble at times by more athletic players due to his average lateral quickness. Additionally, Tobey is a fairly poor defensive rebounder, only grabbing 5.4 defensive rebounds per-40 minutes as a freshman, a well below average rate.
Tobey looks primed for a breakout year in the ACC next season which could propel him onto the NBA Draft radar thanks to his unique combination of size and skill. He can start that off with a strong showing at the U19 World Championship.
A complete unknown at these same tryouts last year, Montrezl Harrell rode a strong showing here in Colorado Springs into a very solid freshman season, getting better and better as the year went on and creating significant expectations leading into his sophomore year.
Harrell showed that he's ready to live up to those expectations with another very good week in Colorado Springs, having improved his frame and diversified his game a bit from when we last saw him.
Harrell's primary intrigue continues to revolve heavily around his superb physical attributes. Standing 6-10 in shoes with a body that continues to fill out, he arms seemingly run down to his knees. He's one of the most athletic big men you'll find too, running the floor exceptionally well, competing non-stop for offensive rebounds, and just attacking the rim relentlessly every moment he was on the court. A terrific target for lobs, Harrell is a fantastic finisher around the basket, having very reliable hands and the ability to make plays in traffic.
Not very advanced with his back to the basket, Harrell would rather face up and attack his man off the dribble rather than trying to back opponents down in the post, as he doesn't possess great footwork or any real go-to move. His first step is a very dangerous weapon, though, particularly as he improves his ball-handling skills, and he's complimenting that more and more lately with the threat of his jump-shot. Harrell made a number of very nice looking jumpers in the mid-range, and even knocked down a corner 3-pointer at one point, something that may hint at good things to come in the future from him.
Defensively, Harrell's energy-level was outstanding, which combined with his length, quickness and explosiveness makes him quite a force on this end of the floor when dialed in. He made a couple of nice deflections and blocks, and showed good potential hedging screens versus the pick and roll, even if he's not as good of a defensive rebounder as you might hope, partially due to his just-average awareness and fundamentals.
Harrell looks ready to step into the big shoes left by outgoing Louisville center Gorgui Dieng next season, and should be a major part of anything this USA squad is able to accomplish at the U19 World Championship in Prague. He's someone NBA teams will be tracking closely both this summer and over the course of his sophomore year.
Going up against players nearly two years older than him, Jahlil Okafor didn't look out of place for a single moment here in Colorado Springs, showing that his terrific skill-level, basketball IQ and maturity would make him a devastating force at the college level already next year if he were eligible.
Okafor established position inside the paint at will thanks to his massive frame, and then unleashed a barrage of phenomenal post moves time after time to score points virtually whenever he pleased. He drew fouls at a steady rate simply by catching the ball and being aggressive, being very difficult to contain thanks to his unique combination of power, finesse and smarts. His arsenal includes a variety drop-steps, spin-moves, up and unders and jump-hooks with either hand, as he was clearly the most fundamentally sound post-player in attendance despite only just having completed his high school senior year.
Not just a brute force with his back to the basket, Okafor can also operate in the mid-post as well, showing the ability to create his own shot off the dribble with a strong first step, great patience, outstanding footwork and soft touch around the basket.
In addition to his excellent skill-level, Okafor impresses with his willingness to play inside, not being afraid of playing through contact with the older players here in Colorado Springs. He clearly realizes what his strengths are and didn't shy away from banging inside even when things got very physical inside the paint, which is a good sign for his transition from high school to college and eventually the NBA.
Defensively, Okafor is a major presence inside thanks to his terrific frame and 7-3 wingspan, but his lack of experience shows much more on this end of the floor than it does offensively. He has a difficult time stepping out onto the perimeter due to his average lateral quickness, and isn't much of a rim protector as he does not possess tremendous explosiveness rotating over from the weak-side. He is a very good rebounder, though, doing a nice job cleaning up the glass on both ends of the floor.
Okafor appeared to be a lock to make the team from the very first moment he stepped on the floor thanks to his advanced skill-set and feel for the game, as he's simply a game-changer inside the paint that very few international teams will have an answer for. The US squad will likely look to utilize him heavily every time he steps on the floor, and he'll surely play a major role in any success this team has.
Coming off a very solid year at Tennessee--what would have been his freshman season had he not decided to graduate early from high school and enroll early—Stokes was expected to play a major role at this camp as a key contributor on last year's U18 FIBA Americas championship squad.
Stokes didn't disappoint, coming in looking in much better shape than he was last season, and being quite emphatic in his will to dominate the paint.
Standing 6-9, with a massive 260+ pound frame, long arms, and big hands, Stokes is a load for any opposing big man to handle, particularly when he's competing as hard as he did here in Colorado Springs. He moves opponents around with his sheer strength, establishing position and sealing his man off inside, which allows him to get plenty of high percentage shots off as a finisher around the basket. He catches everything thrown his way, and has very good touch around the basket, which, along with his length, helps compensate for the fact that he's not a naturally explosive leaper and doesn't possess the most diverse post-arsenal at this stage of his development.
Stokes showed some other wrinkles to his game here as well, namely his ability to beat opposing big men down the floor, some ball-handling ability from the mid-post, and a decent looking mid-range jumper. While he's a player who will always make his living around the basket thanks to his terrific physical tools, it was nice to see him punish the defense when left open, which is something he'll likely need to do depending on what type of big man he's paired with in Prague.
Stokes has always been a phenomenal rebounder—and that held true in Colorado Springs. He has suction cups for hands and a terrific knack for pursuing loose balls out of his area, particularly on the offensive glass, where he was dominant at times.
Defensively, Stokes competed well, as he's not the type of player that you'll see getting backed down inside the paint very often. He's somewhat limited stepping out onto the perimeter, as he possesses just average lateral quickness, but makes up for it with his length and can still be a factor when he's dialed in and playing with the effort level he displayed here.
Stokes figures to be a major part of what USA Basketball is able to accomplish in Prague, as very few international big men have the strength needed to handle him inside the paint, and his offensive rebounding can be a major factor when outside shots aren't falling.
Physicals Height: 6' 2" Weight: 180 lbs. Birthday: 08/31/1970 42 Years Old Teams: High School: William B. Murrah Previous Team: Alabama , PRO Drafted: Rnd 11, Pick #5 in 1968 Draft by the Royals Positions: Current: G, NBA: G, Possible: G Quick Stats: 1.7 Pts, 1.3 Rebs, 0.0 Asts
Physicals Height: 6' 1" Weight: 175 lbs. Birthday: 11/13/1958 54 Years Old Teams: High School: St. Pius X Previous Team: Washington , PRO Drafted: Rnd 7, Pick #3 in 1980 Draft by the Warriors Positions: Current: G, NBA: G, Possible: G Quick Stats: 0.5 Pts, 0.0 Rebs, 0.5 Asts
Physicals Height: 5' 11" Weight: 171 lbs. Birthday: 05/30/1965 48 Years Old Teams: High School: St. Agnes Previous Team: , PRO Drafted: Rnd 3, Pick #22 in 1987 Draft by the Jazz Positions: Current: G, NBA: G, Possible: G Quick Stats: 2.4 Pts, 0.6 Rebs, 2.0 Asts