It’s the USA Against Everyone Else

by Sean Ceglinsky

“And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” — John F. Kennedy.

It’s not everyday that one is given the opportunity to represent the United States. Perhaps that best explains why nine of the nation’s top high school ballers in the business were particularly proud on Tuesday after learning USA Basketball announced each of their respective names as members of the 2010 Junior National Select Team.

Team USA will make its debut in mid-April at the 13th annual Nike Hoop Summit. Ready and waiting for them will be the World Select Team, a group comprised of the best international players around, all of whom are 19 years old or younger. It’s going to be us against them, for all the marbles, at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.

That said, we felt it necessary to provide SLAMonline readers with a breakdown of who’s who. So, without further delay, here’s some background information on the players that will be suiting up in the Red, White and Blue for Team USA.

Harrison BarnesHarrison Barnes | 6-6 | F | Ames | 2010
Can do it all. The North Carolina-bound wing is capable of knocking down jumpers from out on the perimeter, well beyond the three-point arc if necessary. When a defender cheats, he puts the ball on the floor, gets to the hoop off the dribble and finishes in traffic. Unselfish, Barnes always looks to make the extra pass. He’s been known to mix it up underneath the basket too, going toe-to-toe with the big boys in an effort to grab boards.

Will Barton | 6-6 | G | Brewster Academy | 2010
He might be long and lean, but don’t mistake that for being soft in any way, shape or form. Considered by many as the nation’s top shooting guard, Barton gets after it, straight up. The kid loves a challenge. He never backs down, making him a perfect fit on a team like this. His intensity is contagious. We wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if ends up being the emotional leader for this group. Beyond that, he’ll be playing college ball at Memphis.

Reggie Bullock | 6-5 | G | Kinston | 2010
Will join Barnes in Chapel Hill. But first things first. And that’s proving he’s one of the top shooters on a roster full of top shooters. Bullock possesses unlimited range from way downtown. Knocking down jumpers from 20-plus feet comes naturally. He‘s as consistent, and make no mistake, he’ll get the opportunity to prove as much given the fact that the World Select Team will be playing plenty of zone defense.

Tobias Harris | 6-8 | F | Half Hollow Hills West | 2010
New York, stand up. This kid shares the same ilk as you. With that out of the way, it’s time to move on. Every team needs one of those guys willing to do the dirty work, do the little things that don’t necessarily show up in the box score. Harris will be that guy for Team USA. The rugged power forward, with an East Coast mentality, is a load down on the low block. He’s a nightmare for opponents to deal with.

Kyrie Irving | 6-1 | G | St. Patrick | 2010
Was recruited by seemingly every powerhouse program in the country, including Kentucky and UConn. And that‘s naming just a couple of the interested schools. Ultimately, the point guard decided on Duke. Ultimately, the selection committee, the head honchos over at USA Basketball, decided on Irving. If he’s good enough to play for coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils, he’s good enough to play for this team. You can take that to the bank.

Brandon KnightTerrence Jones | 6-8 | F | Jefferson | 2010
The only player from the West Coast to receive the nod for the Junior National Select Team. Given his all-around skill set, and the fact that he can play both forward positions equally well, his selection was a no-brainer. Suppose that’s why Jones is one of the most sought-after prospects in the nation. On the offensive end of the floor, wings have no answer for the gifted lefty. Defensively, his length gives fours fits.

Brandon Knight | 6-3 | G | Pine Crest | 2010
One of three talented floor generals for Team USA, perhaps the best of the bunch, in fact. Seeming every recruiting service out there ranks Knight as the premier point guard around. The distinction is warranted considering he puts teammates in great positions to score while making sure to get his in the process. Expect him to be in the starting lineup, share some time with the backups, and finish things at the end of games.

Kendall Marshall | 6-4 | G | Bishop O’Connell | 2010
Coach Roy Williams hit the jackpot at North Carolina when he landed commitments from Barnes and Bullock. Throw Marshall into the mix and watch out. Best believe the World Select Team will be watching out once he heads over to the scorer’s table and checks into games. A more that capable distributor, he figures to spell Knight and Irving from time to time. Great thing about him is, Marshall can play some shooting guard as well, and when he does, there won’t be much, if any, drop-off. He’s as versatile as they come.

Jared Sullinger | 6-8 | C | Northland | 2010
Last, but certainly not least, the man in the middle, Sullinger. More often than not, the 260-plus pounder has his way once he establishes position in the painted area. He’s automatic from in close. Snatching rebounds others can’t get to has become common place for him. And blocking shots anywhere in his general vicinity simply comes with the territory. If he stays out of foul trouble, Team USA should be victorious, although it figures to be a hard-fought win.

So ladies and gentlemen, there you have it, the list of PUNKS that will be representing Uncle Sam in the not so distant future. It’s worth mentioning that there are plans to add a 10th member to the Junior National Select Team, and once his name is released, we’ll be sure to pass along the information.

In the meantime, it’s reasonable to expect the core group of players to begin practicing for the big showdown against the World Select Team. Expectations are high, always are for Team USA.

Go out there boys and do JFK proud.