Discussion

Challenges facing the U.S. U-19 team

Updated: June 18, 2013, 3:52 PM ET
By Fran Fraschilla

Florida's Billy Donovan will coach the United States Under-19 team in the FIBA World Championships from June 27 to July 7 in Prague, Czech Republic. Last summer, he helped the Under-18 team win the FIBA Americas gold medal and an automatic berth into the world championships.

Donovan, who has a very close relationship with USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo, will likely be one of the few college coaches to be considered for the men's senior national team coaching position in the future. His recent international coaching experience can only enhance that opportunity.

This past weekend, the Under-19 team's trials were held in Colorado Springs, Colo., and an initial group of 26 college and high school stars has been pared to 12.

While USA Basketball has once again begun to dominate the world basketball landscape at nearly every level, the FIBA Under-19 World Championships have been a little trickier. The team has captured the gold medal only once since 1991.

A number of the best 19-year-olds eligible to play are choosing to stay on campus with their college teams this summer. ESPN's No. 3 prospect, Julius Randle, has already represented the United States in a number of events but chose to bypass the trials to begin his Kentucky career this summer in Lexington.

In the past, some outstanding freshmen chose to enter the NBA draft and, in effect, passed on the opportunity to participate in international competition. Kentucky's Nerlens Noel, if healthy, would have been eligible to compete for Donovan's team. He turns 20 next April.

I talked with Donovan about his commitment to USA Basketball and the challenges he faces coaching this age level.


Fraschilla: It's not common for a guy to coach USA Basketball and then come back for a second summer, because it's very time-consuming. Why did you decide to do it?

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