USA Basketball U17 Training Camp a Wide-Open Tryout

The USA Basketball Men's Developmental National Team training camp starts this week in San Antonio, and 19 of the best high school basketball players in the country will be on hand looking for one of 12 spots on the U17 team.

With only seven cuts to be made, does coach Don Showalter have an idea of who is a shoo-in and who will be fighting for a spot?

In a word, no.

"You approach it with the idea that all 12 spots are open," Showalter said. "You have to approach it that way to be fair to the players."

The 12 who survive the cut will be playing in the U17 FIBA World Championships in Hamburg, Germany next month. The U.S. qualified for the tournament by winning the U16 FIBA Americas championship last year.

Many of the players trying out for the U17 team played on that U16 team, but that doesn't give them an advantage at this tryout.

"Not unless they use it as a positive thing for this year," Showalter said. "Some players don't improve quite as much in a year. Some players that didn't go last year, for schooling or another reason, learned from last year's experience and got better."

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With an open mind, Showalter heads to San Antonio ready to make better basketball players and pick a national team in the process. The 19 players will work with Showalter and his staff twice a day between June 18-24. A two-hour session is scheduled for each morning, and another two-hour session will take place in the afternoon.

It's not just instructional sessions, though there's plenty of that. It's not just pickup games, though there's plenty of that, too. It's a blend of both, a chance for the coaching staff to teach as well as scout.

"What we try and do is structure with some teaching elements in there," Showalter said. "We want them to play the way we prepare for the World Championships defensively and offensively."

Another key element is mixing and matching scrimmages to see what players play well together. With such a short time period for the team to be together before flying to Germany, instant chemistry is a big deal.

In addition, the training camp will be a refresher course on international rules that differ--sometimes dramatically--from high school rules the players are used to. Scrimmages will be conducted with a shot clock and other quirks will be emphasized before the World Championships begin on July 2 in Hamburg.

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