The game of basketball is universal in most regards. A ball, a hoop and five players per side. Score more than the other team.
But the 19 high school boys basketball standouts looking for a spot on the USA Developmental National Team will try to work out a few culture shocks before preparing for the U17 FIBA World Championships.
The tournament--which starts July 2nd in Hamburg, Germany--uses FIBA international rules, which differ from high school rules in several aspects. Here are the four main ones the players will have to get used to:
Players will be running an offense with a 24-second shot clock. Most states in the U.S. do not use a shot clock in high school basketball. Even college basketball players, with a 30-second clock, have more time.
Perhaps more than any other quirk, this is the one that will take the most adjustment for the Team USA players.
"It really changes the game because you don't necessarily do things to speed up the game," USA U17 coach Don Showalter said. "It's already being sped up."Showalter and the USA Basketball staff will use the shot clock frequently during the USA Basketball Men's Developmental National Team training camp in San Antonio, which starts June 18. The key is to get players comfortable with the shot clock. It can be a mental hurdle to clear.
"Not knowing or not using a shot clock, it gets down to seven seconds and they start to panic," Showalter said, "when actually there's more than enough time."
Point guards will have to speed up when getting the ball across the half-court line. Under international rules, a backcourt violation occurs after just eight seconds--a little bit faster than the 10 seconds high school players are afforded.
Coupled with the shot clock, the backcourt rule will force point guards to get the ball, get it up court and get the offense rolling at a pace they can't always control.
Around the Rim
Under FIBA international rules, players can touch the ball that's above the rim or in the cylinder, so long as it has already struck the rim. In American rules, it's considered goaltending.
That means that once a ball hits off the rim, it's fair game to be swatted away or grabbed by a defensive player. In American rules, an imaginary cylinder exists and nobody can touch the ball until it leaves that cylinder.
That could require a change of habit for Team USA's big men. They can play more aggressive defense.
Recently, FIBA changed its lanes from a trapezoid shape to the rectangular shape Americans are used to. However, that change won't take place until October, meaning the U17 World Championships will still have a trapezoid lane.
To their credit, several of the 19 players at the 17U camp played in the Americas 16U Championship last year. The United States won that tournament to earn the invitation to next month's 17U World Championship. Many of these players have already competed under the international umbrella.
But after a season of high school basketball, followed surely by a few summer tournaments, it will be an adjustment all over again for the best high school basketball players in the country.