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Blazers PG Damian Lillard added to U.S. Olympic hoops roster pool

Portland guard Damian Lillard has been added to the U.S. national basketball team pool, giving the Americans 31 players for 12 spots.

Lillard fell just short of a place on the 2014 World Cup of Basketball roster and wasn't among the original 30 candidates for Rio de Janeiro announced last month. But he called USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo recently and said he wanted to remain involved in the program.

Colangelo said in a statement Wednesday that he and U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski feel Lillard is "playing at a very high level" and deserves a spot among the Olympic finalists.

The fourth-year guard is averaging career highs of 24.2 points and 7.3 assists, ranking among the top seven in the NBA in both.

He was beaten out for a guard spot by Derrick Rose in 2014 and cut when the Americans opted to keep Detroit's Andre Drummond as an extra big man on the team that won the gold medal and clinched a berth in Rio for the Americans.

Lillard will have difficulty making the Olympic team with Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving and John Wall among the other point guard candidates. But remaining in the program now could help him earn a spot playing under Gregg Popovich in the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Olympics.

Colangelo has said he expects to choose the 12-man roster around the NBA draft in June.