Yes, it is great to be a Florida Gator, but it may be even better to be a Florida Gator representing the Orange and Blue while sporting the Red, White and Blue. Sophomore guard Michael Frazier II will be finding that out for himself June 24-July 6 after he was officially selected to the USA Basketball U19 World Championship team, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Frazier will be among 12 players headed to Prague, Czech Republic for the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, but he won’t be the only Gator in attendance.
Coach Billy Donovan is one of three coaches making the trip, along with VCU’s Shaka Smart and Virginia coach Tony Bennett.
Frazier was one of 24 young hardwood superstars to earn an invitation to try out. Before he left he stated that a final roster spot with his name on it would be a dream come true.
“You’re getting an opportunity to play for your country,” Frazier said. “And any time you have an opportunity to play for your country, you’re very proud and honored. I’ve always wanted to be a part of that.”
But “want” and “opportunity” have to meet hard work. Coach Donovan explained that nothing was made easy for Frazier or any of the other players who made the cut.
“These kids being here since (last) Friday, obviously there’s been a physical toll on them, but I don’t think you can underestimate the mental toll of these kids trying so hard to make the team,” Donovan said. “Here it is today and they have gone through Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday – four pretty difficult days against really difficult competition – and the uncertainty of ‘Am I playing well enough?, ‘Am I going to make the team or not make the team?’; that stress, that pressure, I think that adds to their fatigue. So I think getting that behind us now and going forward we can get our guys focused on being the best team. I think the focus up to this point in time by them has been ‘make the team’, ‘make the team’, ‘make the team’, and we’ve got to now move it towards trying to win.”
Donovan also explains how difficult it was for him in selecting the team and then moving on and “trying to win.”
“Getting down to 12 is the real hard part because in a lot of respects we easy could have kept 14-15,” said Donovan, who led the 2012 USA U18 Team to a 5-0 record, a FIBA Americas U18 gold medal finish and a qualifying berth for the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, all again according to the Orlando Sentinel. “There were some tough decisions, difficult decisions, but I think we feel overall that we have selected an athletic and versatile team. Our style of play will be an aggressive, up-tempo, running, pressing style. From an execution standpoint we’ve got to get better there. A lot of the other teams over there have been together for quite some time and that’s probably a strength of their teams, so we felt that we have to rely on some athleticism.”
Here’s the full roster of superstar, under 19-year old, basketball players set to represent America in Prague.
- Michael Frazier (University of Florida/Tampa)
- Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose, Calif.)
- Jerami Grant (Syracuse University/Bowie, Md.)
- Montrezl Harrell (University of Louisville/Tarboro, N.C.)
- Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S./Chicago, Ill.)
- Elfrid Payton (University of Louisiana at Lafayette/Gretna, La.)
- Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State University/Flower Mound, Texas)
- Jarnell Stokes (University of Tennessee/Memphis, Tenn.)
- Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke University/Houston, Texas)
- Mike Tobey (University of Virginia/Monroe, N.Y.)
- Nigel Williams-Goss (Findlay Prep/Happy Valley, Ore.)
- Justise Winslow (St. Johns H.S./Houston, Texas).
Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes is the only other representative of the SEC headed overseas; there are four high school players on the roster, but the most talented player is probably Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart. Smart turned down a likely top-five pick in the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft in order to return to Stillwater for a sophomore season.