USA National Team Roster Set
LAWRENCE, Kan. – All here and accounted for. The USA National Team for the upcoming World University Games (WUG), July 3-14 in Gwangju, Korea, is all present as the 11 Kansas men’s basketball contingent, joined by SMU guard Nic Moore the afternoon of June 12, continued practicing for the upcoming games.
The USA National Team will consist of 12 players, four coaches and other KU staff who will depart for Gwanju on June 28. The USA National Team will compete in Pool D, which will consist of six teams. Joining the USA National Team in Pool D is Turkey, Serbia, Brazil, Chile and Switzerland. Following the WUG opening ceremonies on July 3, the team will take on Turkey at noon on July 4, 10 p.m. in Kansas, in its opening contest.
“Practices have been good and with Nic in here today, we’ll have our full complement of guys,” said USA National Team head coach Bill Self who has guided Kansas to an unprecedented 11-straight Big 12 Conference regular-season titles (2005-15) and two Final Fours as the Jayhawks are the winningest program in NCAA Division I since the 2006-07 season, averaging 31.1 wins in that span with an 83.8 winning percentage. “I’m pleased. We’re experimenting on some different things and they guys are really trying hard, they’re jacked and going at it. It is very competitive.”
Forward Perry Ellis is one of four all-conference performers from 2014-15 and headlines the USA National Team roster. A Wichita, Kansas native, Ellis was an All-Big 12 First Team selection last season, leading Kansas in scoring (13.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg). He was also named to the 2015 Academic All-Big 12 First Team and the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Guard Frank Mason III, from Petersburg, Virginia, was an All-Big 12 Second Team honoree who was second on the team in scoring with 12.6 points per game and led Kansas with 142 assists and 50 steals in 2014-15. Mason’s 42.9 percent shooting from three-point range was best on the KU team last season. Guard Wayne Selden, Jr., from Roxbury, Massachusetts, was a 2015 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection who led Kansas with 46 three-pointers made last year as he averaged 9.4 points per contest.
The only non-Jayhawk on the roster is Moore, who was the 2015 American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and led SMU in scoring (14.5 ppg), assists (5.1 apg) and steals (1.3 spg). The Winona Lake, Indiana all-conference first-team selection led the Mustangs to their first conference regular-season title since 1988.
Ellis, forwards Jamari Traylor (4.8 points, 3.7 rebounds in 2014-15) and Landen Lucas (3.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and guards Evan Manning and Tyler Self have international experience heading to Gwangju as they competed in Kansas’ four exhibition games in Switzerland and France in August 2012. Lucas and forward Hunter Mickelson (2.4 ppg, 19 blocked shots in 2014-15) spent August 2014 playing internationally as Lucas played for the Athletes in Action touring Estonia and Latvia and Mickelson was a member of Guy Rancourt’s USA East Coast Basketball Team in the 2014 Four Nations Cup in Estonia and Finland.
“We have been so fortunate because we have been exposed to so many different things,” Self said of the experience of competing in the World University Games in Gwangju. “We’ve taken teams to Paris and Switzerland. We’ve gone to Canada a few times and traveled to exotic places through the years, but I do believe this will be the most educational trip because will see the culture and how people live and also hang out with other athletes in their same age group from all over the world. The guys are taking a class to become more familiar with South Korea and the culture and what to expect when they get there.”
Guard Devonte’ Graham is coming off a solid freshman campaign for KU in 2014-15 where he averaged 5.7 points and 2.1 assists per game. Expect Graham and newcomers Carlton Bragg and Lagerald Vick to be key contributors for the World University Games. Bragg is a power forward who was a McDonald’s All-American last year, while Vick is an explosive guard with great range shooting.
“This team is very similar to last year’s team from a depth standpoint,” Self said. “I think we’ve helped ourselves in some ways. Those young kids, having a year under their belt, will allow them to have their abilities shine more than what it was last year by being more comfortable. I think some guys are about ready to take off.”
There are four pools in the WUG with the top two teams after pool play qualifying for the eight-team medal bracket. The third and fourth teams in each pool will compete in an eight-team bracket with the highest finish being ninth in the 24-team field. The fifth and sixth pool finishers will also compete in and eight-team bracket as all 24 teams are guaranteed eight games for the event.
“We are not the USA Basketball team, but we are representing the USA,” Self said. “I think they (the KU contingent) will get that vibe big time. It will be a situation the world will do everything they can to try and knock us off.”
EXHIBITION TICKETS – Sprint Center Box Office
In preparation for the World University Games, the USA National Team will host Team Canada June 23 and June 26 at 7 p.m. at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Cost of the tickets is $27 for the Tuesday, June 23 contest, $37 for the Friday, June 26 matchup or both games for $50. Fans can purchase tickets online at Sprint Center or by calling the Kansas Athletics ticket office at 800-34-HAWKS There are also group ticket opportunities for the contests, which can be accessed by calling 785.864.6216 for those options.
The two Canada games will serve as a tune-up for the team’s participation in the World University Games in South Korea, July 3-14. The United States International University Sports Federation (US-IUSF) selected the Jayhawks to represent the United States in the global event. Even though selected by the US-IUSF, all the costs associated with the trip are the responsibility of the institution. The proceeds from these two exhibition games will help fund these expenses. The two Canada contests will be the first public appearance by the 2015-16 Jayhawks, which will include the qualifying members of the 2015 recruiting class.
The World University Games, as well as the two exhibition games at Sprint Center, will be administered under FIBA rules. The most notable differences from the college game are the four, 10-minute quarters and a 24-second shot clock.