Last summer, before he had even played a college game, Marcus Smart fueled his U18 USA team to the Gold at the FIBA Americas Championship, starting at point guard and leading the tournament in steals.
Now, the Oklahoma State star sophomore is back, pledging to help his country’s hoops community again by accepting an invitation to the U19 Training Camp in Colorado Springs next month.
Twenty-four players will compete for a spot on the roster. Only 12 will make the team. But Smart, barring injury or personal withdrawal, seems like a virtual lock to be in the starting lineup.
The invitees are largely made up of returning sophomores and a few incoming freshmen, none with Smart’s track record and reputation with the coaches.
Florida’s Billy Donovan will serve as the head coach, with VCU’s Shaka Smart and Virginia’s Tony Bennett as his assistants. Donovan, who was part of the U18 staff last summer, has lauded Smart’s toughness and leadership abilities in the past.
“I have not been around a player in a long, long time that is as good a competitor,” Donovan said of Smart after the tournament last year. “He can shoot the ball better (than he did), but he’s unselfish and an unbelievable leader. He was absolutely terrific. He’s a terrific player. He’s special. He has the internal qualities to me.”
Here’s the rest of the invitees:
Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova University/Langhorne, Pa.)
Bryce Alford (La Cueva H.S./Albuquerque, N.M.);
Brandon Ashley (University of Arizona/San Francisco, Calif.)
Robert Carter (Georgia Tech/Thomasville, Ga.)
Damyean Dotson (University of Oregon/Houston, Texas)
Kris Dunn (Providence College/Oakdale, Conn.)
Javan Felix (University of Texas/New Orleans, La.)
Michael Frazier (University of Florida/Tampa, Fla.)
Marcus Georges-Hunt (Georgia Tech/College Park, Ga.)
Shaq Goodwin (University of Memphis/Atlanta, Ga.)
Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose, Calif.)
Jerami Grant (Syracuse University/Bowie, Md.)
Montrezl Harrell (University of Louisville/Tarboro, N.C.)
Rondaé Hollis-Jefferson (Chester H.S./Chester, Pa.)
Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S./Chicago, Ill.)
Rodney Purvis (University of Connecticut/Raleigh, N.C.)
James Robinson (University of Pittsburgh/Mitchellville, Md.)
Jarnell Stokes (University of Tennessee/Memphis, Tenn.)
Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke University/Houston, Texas)
Devin Thomas (Wake Forest University/Harrisburg, Pa.)
Mike Tobey (University of Virginia/Monroe, N.Y.)
Nigel Williams-Goss (Findlay Prep/Happy Valley, Ore.)
Justise Winslow (St. Johns H.S./Houston, Texas).