ACC Basketball

The ACC Leaves Minimal Impact on USA Basketball U19 Team

Rasheed Sulaimon USA Basketball

USA Basketball Men’s U19 team just won a gold medal in the FIBA U19 World Championships this past weekend. However, the combined role that current (Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon and Virginia’s Mike Tobey) and future (Pitt’s James Robinson) ACC players had on the team left a lot to be desired.

Of the three, only Sulaimon had an important role on the team’s undefeated run (9-0). He was second in minutes (20.1) and sixth in points (8.4). He was tied for most threes made (15) with Florida’s Michael Frazier and was second in three-point shooting percentage (.405).

I’d argue he had a good overall performance, but not great. While Sulaimon didn’t just sit on the three-point line and made some effort to work the ball inside, he made only 23% of his shots from two-point range (8-35) and only dished out seven assists (less than one per game). Duke fans want to see a more balanced Sulaimon, but he’s going to need to be productive when driving the ball inside.

It was a bit of surprise that Mike Tobey made the team, so it’s not shocking that he was last in minutes (10.1), playing just four minutes in the gold-medal game. The fact was, with studs like Aaron Gordon and Jahlil Okafor dominating in the paint, there wasn’t much need for Tobey.

He did managed to knock down 53% of his shots and grab 4.8 rebounds (not bad for the minutes he played).

James Robinson was a last minute addition and was stuck behind Marcus Smart and Nigel Williams-Goss at point guard. He still managed to squeeze in 14.1 minutes per game (although he only played two minutes off the bench in the gold-medal game).

While Robinson has never been a great shooter, he really struggled from the field in the tournament. He hit just 8-31 (.258) overall, getting shutout from three (0-6). However, his 19 assists were tied for third on the team, producing the team’s second best assist-to-turnover ratio (19-7).

While Arizona incoming freshman Aaron Gordon was probably the star on Team USA, a pair of  high school kids made quite an impression. Jahlil Okafor, and Justise Winslow combined for 20.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, 17 assists and eight blocks. Okafor, who has the Duke Blue Devils on his short list, shot a solid a blistering 77% from the field, while Winslow has both Duke and North Carolina giving chase.

Now let’s not forget, Team USA was not the only team to feature ACC talent. Team Canada had both Tyler Ennis McIntyre (Syracuse incoming freshman) and Xavier Rathan-Mayes (Florida State incoming freshman).

A high school teammate of Andrew Wiggins, Rathan-Mayes gets sort of forgotten among incoming freshman, but he could be a good one this coming season in the ACC.

In the FIBA U19 World Championships, he averaged 12.2 points (3rd on the team), hitting a team high 18 threes, getting to the line an impressive 36 times. However, there were times he pressed and it showed in his shooting percentages. He hit just 34% from the floor, 29% from three and an awful 39% from the free throw line.

Tyler Ennis was arguable the best player not in a Team USA jersey. The #8 rated point guard will be the only true point guard on the Oranges’ roster this coming season, thus expectations are extremely high, so Syracuse fans have to be happy with what they saw.

Ennis led the tournament in scoring (20.7), hitting 46% from the floor, managing to get to the line 51 times (second on the team). He lead the team in assists (25), but he also turned it over 24 times, so that’s bad. Still, pretty solid numbers for a guy not playing on the best team in the tournament (4-5 record).


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