USA Basketball today announced plans to collaborate with the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the expansion of its Men’s Junior National Team program to include additional training camps and year-round player development programming, with focuses on health and wellness and life skills.
Through the expansion, USA Basketball’s Junior National Team will build on its existing basketball development program to provide unprecedented on- and off-court player development opportunities for more than 80 top U.S. high school players.
Approximately 20 athletes from each high school class will participate in six training camps and competitions throughout the 2018-19 calendar year, including the first Junior National Team minicamp for players from all high school grades from Oct. 5-7 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Don Showalter will serve as the lead coach for the USA Junior National Team Program and will lead the October USA Junior National Team minicamp for a 10th straight year. Since 2009, Showalter has led USA men’s U16 and U17 national teams to a 62-0 overall record and 10 total gold medals.
In addition to the expanded basketball training at each camp, players will participate in a health and wellness program that will take place onsite and continue throughout the year. The program will include physicians, athletic trainers and other experts in player health and performance, and will be managed by the program’s Director of Player Health and Sports Performance Ed Lacerte, the former head athletic trainer for the Boston Celtics and the 1992 “Dream Team.” Lacerte, who served as an initial member of the NBA’s Sports Science Committee, is a registered physical therapist and a certified athletic trainer, strength & conditioning specialist, and performance enhancement specialist.
Life-skills education and off-court development also will be major focus areas for the expanded program, with player education sessions on a variety of topics, including positive decision making, healthy relationships, cultural understanding and diversity, leadership and character development, collegiate eligibility and recruiting.
The expansion will also introduce a parent education program to provide families with resources and information designed to help them support their athlete’s development on and off the court. The program’s off-court programming will include year-round opportunities for players and parents through online life skills modules developed by Game Plan, an eLearning platform utilized by the NBA G League and numerous Division I colleges and universities.
The collaboration brings together key stakeholders to improve the development pathway for talented high school players to maximize their success. One of the training camps will take place at the 2019 NCAA Men’s Final Four in Minneapolis, building on the Next Generation Sunday program launched by the NCAA last year, in collaboration with USA Basketball and the NBA. The 2018-19 schedule of USA Basketball Junior National Team training camps and competitions is as follows:
- Junior National Team Minicamp: October 2018 Colorado Springs, Colo.
- Junior National Team Minicamp: April 2019 Minneapolis, Minn.
- Nike Hoop Summit: April 2019 Portland, Ore.
- USA Basketball Training Camp: June 2019 Colorado Springs, Colo.
- FIBA Americas U16 Championship: June/July 2019 TBD
FIBA U19 World Cup: July 2019 TBD
- Junior National Team Minicamp: July 2019 Colorado Springs, Colo.
“This is a great collaboration between four major influencersin the sport with the aim of creating a better experience for these young athletes as they look to navigate their basketball journey in high school, college and professional levels,” said retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, USA Basketball chairman. “We believe this vibrant program will not only assist the players in their on court development, but also assist them and their families with life skills, and health and wellness knowledge that will last a lifetime.”
“Providing these talented young players with additional training and off-court programming will enhance the Junior National Team’s proven development pathway,” said Kathy Behrens, NBA President, Social Responsibility and Player Programs. “We are looking forward to working with USA Basketball, the NBPA and the NCAA to collectively provide the resources and development opportunities for Junior National Team athletes to reach their full potential on and off the court.”
“This expanded initiative aligns well with a recommendation from the Commission on College Basketball for USA Basketball, NBA, NBPA and NCAA to collaborate on developmental programming for a segment of the most talented and promising American basketball teenage prospects,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball. “The USA Basketball Junior National Team has a great record of success, and we are committed to partnering to provide enhanced educational, practical life and wellness resources to benefit player growth, as well as assist families in making informed decisions.”
“It’s a natural fit to take the excellent life skills instruction and off-court development programs we provide for NBA players and stretch them out so that we can provide support and guidance to young, developing talent,” said Michele Roberts, NBPA Executive Director. “This is an effort that is long overdue.”
Since 2009 when FIBA initiated a new competition calendar featuring the U16, U17, U18 and U19 competitions, the USA men have compiled a remarkable 125-3 overall record and won gold in 18 of the 20 competitions. The USA has won the last five FIBA U17 World Cups, three of the last five FIBA U19 World Cups and the last five FIBA Americas U16 and U18 Championships.
In March 2018, USA Basketball and the NBA announced a set of age- and stage-appropriate rules and standards for youth basketball competitions to enhance the development and playing experience for young athletes by helping them learn the fundamentals of the game and achieve greater on-court success.The 2018 rules and standardswere the second set of guidelinesreleased, following the initial NBA and USA Basketball Youth Guidelines announced in October 2016, which promote health and wellness by encouraging multi-sport participation and establishing age-appropriate limits on the number of games that youth should play.
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