The tradition continues. What began with former Cougars Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver has continued with current Cougars DeAngelo Casto and Klay Thompson [as well as incoming Cougar Brock Motum]. The pair of sophomores were selected for the 2009 USA Basketball U19 men's team which will compete in the upcoming 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship, scheduled to be held July 2-12 in Auckland, New Zealand. Motum, meanwhile, was selected to the Australian team.
With Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon at the helm, the 12 players selected for the team will remain in Colorado Springs through June 25 to continue training for the world championship. The player selections were made by the USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team Committee, chaired by Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim.
"It means everything to make the team," Casto said. "It was kind of emotional for me, a little hard for me a little bit too. Having been through so much, I got to a spot where basketball has been my outlet. So it means the world to make the team and it's an honor to be able to put that jersey on with USA on your chest."
"It feels great to make the team, it's an honor especially playing at a national level against high level competition," Thompson said. "It was tough competition throughout the trials, and I'm thankful for this opportunity to represent my country."
Washington State and Butler are the only two schools with multiple student-athletes on the 12-man roster. Casto and Thompson are joined on the U.S. team by Seth Curry (Duke/Charlotte, N.C.), Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh/Scotch Plains, N.J.) , Gordon Hayward (Butler/Brownsburg, Ind.), Shelvin Mack (Butler/Lexington, Ky.), Darius Miller (Kentucky/Maysville, Ky.), Arnett Moultrie (UTEP/Memphis, Tenn.), John Shurna (Northwestern/Glen Ellyn, Ill.), Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas/Jersey City, N.J.), Howard Thompkins (Georgia/Lithonia, Ga.) and Terrico White (Mississippi/Memphis, Tenn.).
Both Casto and Thompson earned Pacific-10 Conference All-Freshman Team honors this past season, while Thompson was also named to the All-Freshman Honorable Mention Team by CollegeHoops.net. A 6-6 guard, Thompson ranked fifth in the Pac-10 and led all conference freshmen in 3-point field goals made (68), 10th overall and second among freshmen in 3-point field goal percentage (.412) and 10th overall and third among freshmen in blocked shots (0.6 bpg). Thompson holds the WSU freshman single-game record for 3-pointers made after knocking down 8-of-10 from beyond the 3-point arc at Arizona State Jan. 29.
The WSU record holder for starts and minutes played by a freshman, Thompson started all 33 games for the Cougars in 2008-09, averaging 12.5 points per game. He holds the Cougar freshman record for 3-point field goals made with 68. He also ranks in the WSU freshman top-10 in field goal attempts (first - 165), games played (t-second - 33), points (second - 414), field goals made (second - 159), scoring average (third - 12.5), field goal attempts (first - 378), 3-point field goal percentage (third - .412), rebounds (fourth - 138), rebound average (fifth - 4.2), blocked shots (sixth - 20), blocks average (seventh - 0.61), assists (seventh - 62) and assist average (t-ninth - 1.9 apg).
A 6-8 forward, Casto led all Pac-10 freshmen and ranked fourth overall with 1.2 blocks per game. He is tied with Thompson for second-most games played by a freshman after playing all 33 games as a rookie. Casto holds the WSU freshman blocks record after swatting 39 shots in 2008-09. He also ranks second in blocks average (1.2 bpg), fifth in rebounds (131) and seventh for rebound average (4.0 rpg). Casto is also tied for the third-best single game performance by a WSU freshman after blocking four shots against Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 15, 2008).
Sixteen nations will battle for the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship for Men title. The United States has been placed in Group B, along with Egypt, France and Iran. The 12 remaining 19-and-under national teams were distributed as such: Group A includes Angola, Greece, Lithuania and Puerto Rico; Group C consists of Australia, Canada, Spain and Syria; and Group D is comprised of Argentina, Croatia, Kazakhstan and host New Zealand.
The U.S. squad's preliminary round slate opens with a July 2 contest against Iran, followed by France on July 3, and the USA squad will celebrate the Fourth of July by taking on Egypt. The top three teams from each preliminary group will qualify for the preliminary second round, while the fourth place teams will qualify for the classification round to determine 13th to 16th places.
The twelve teams qualified for the second round, which will be played July 6-8, will be divided into groups E and F, with six teams in each group. The top three preliminary round teams from groups A and B will advance to Group E, and the top three from C and D will advance to Group F. Each team will play the three new teams in its new group, with the final scores of all games played in the preliminary round carrying over to determine the second round standings.
Teams finishing in first through fourth places in the two second round groups will qualify for the quarterfinals, with the opportunity to advance to the semifinals and finals. Teams finishing in fifth and sixth places in Groups E and F will play for ninth through 12th places. The quarterfinals will be held on July 10, semifinals are slated for July 11 and the gold medal game will be contested on July 12.
Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, the tournament was held every four years from 1979 – 2007. FIBA recently changed its calendar and now holds age-based world championships every other year. USA men's teams are 53-11 in the U19/Junior World Championships, capturing silver with an 8-1 record at the most recent U19 Worlds, held in Serbia in 2007.
Washington State University sports information contributed to this article.
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