COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – UK freshmen Hamidou Diallo (pictured) and PJ Washington were named to the 2017 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup Team competing in the FIBA World Cup in Cairo in July. UK head coach John Calipari is serving as the head coach of the team.
Team USA will be looking for its third straight title at the FIBA World Cup after capturing gold at the 2013 and 2015 tournaments.
The 12-man team was trimmed from 28 players who accepted invitations to training camp, which began earlier this week. The USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee issued the invitations. Athletes eligible for the team must be 19 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1998) and U.S. citizens.
Diallo and Washington are among the 12-man USA team that will compete in Cairo July 1-9 at the 2017 FIBA World Cup. Fellow Wildcat freshman, Kevin Knox, made the initial 16-man pool before removing his name from consideration after suffering a minor hamstring injury.
Another Wildcat, redshirt sophomore Tai Wynyard, is already headed to this year’s FIBA U19 World Cup. It was announced last month that Wynyard was named one of 12 members of the Junior Tall Blacks, New Zealand’s U19 national team. Freshman guard Shai Gilegous-Alexander was invited to try out for the Canadian team but opted to stay in Lexington train with his college team.
The 2017 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup Team drew Group D for preliminary-round games at the FIBA World Cup and will open against Iran on July 1. Team USA will then play Angola on July 2 and will cap preliminary round action vs. Italy on July 4 (game times are to be determined).
The United States earned its berth into the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup by virtue of claiming gold at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
Following the preliminary round, all 16 teams will be seeded according to group-play results and will advance to the July 5 round of 16. Winners will advance to the July 7 medal quarterfinals, while the remaining teams will continue playing out for classification. The medal semifinals will be held July 8, and the gold- and bronze-medal games are slated for July 9.
In the 12 previous U19 competitions held, the USA men’s teams have won six gold and three silver medals, including gold in three of the past four U19 championships (2009, 2013 and 2015).
All three Wildcat training camp participants had prior USA Basketball experience, with Diallo and Washington helping the U19 team qualify for this year’s World Cup.
After testing the waters for a potential entry into the NBA Draft in April, Diallo announced a month ago that he was returning to Kentucky. Although he didn’t play for the Wildcats after enrolling midyear, he is expected to be a leading returner on an extremely young team after becoming a vital practice player down the stretch of the 2016-17 season.
A Top 10 prospect in the 2017 class before reclassifying, Diallo led Putnam Science Academy to a 38-3 record with an appearance in the state semifinals. The two-time all-state honoree averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his final full season of high school. He averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds for the 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team that won a gold medal at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Chile.
Washington, measured at 6-foot-8, 229 pounds, is rated as high as the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2017 rankings by ESPN. Scout and Rivals tab him at No. 14 overall and 247Sports ranks him No. 18. He was named to the All-USA Boys Basketball Second Team in March and played in the 2017 McDonald’s All American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic. He also won most valuable player honors at the inaugural Allen Iverson Roundball Clasic.
Washington started all five games and averaged 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds for the gold-medal winning 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team in Chile. The 6-8, 229-pound forward was also a member of the 2015 USA 3x3 U18 World Championship Team, which finished in eighth place in Debrecen, Hungary.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught