The cream of the crop of American high school basketball will congregate in Colorado Springs from Oct. 5-7, as USA Basketball unveils its newly expanded Junior National Team minicamp in collaboration with the NBA, NCAA and NBA Players Association.
A combined 87 freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors are slated to attend the minicamp, up from 54 in 2017, as the scope of the weekend has expanded significantly in the wake of many new entities participating.
The camp will be a day longer than in the past, and will now feature a significant off-court component intended to educate the elite prospects and their families on the roadmap that is in front of them that will potentially result in attending college, hearing their name called in the NBA draft and becoming members of the NBPA.
Many of the top prospects in high school basketball have been confirmed on the roster by ESPN.com, including the top 10 American seniors in the ESPN 100, headlined by No. 1 and No. 2 ranked James Wiseman and Cole Anthony among the 24 2019 participants.
Among the 23 high school juniors, ESPN 60’s top three players – Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes and Jalen Green – are all slated to attend. In the high school sophomore class, ESPN 25’s top five ranked players – Patrick Baldwin, Terrence Clarke, Michael Foster, Jaden Hardy and Paolo Banchero – are among the 13 class participants for 2021. A total of 28 high school freshmen, mostly 14-15, will also be present. From this group, Emoni Bates, Jalen Duren and Chris Livingston are already beginning to draw accolades and will be watched closely in Colorado Springs.
NBA team representatives will not be in Colorado Springs evaluating players at the minicamp at this stage, largely due to space constraints, according to a USA Basketball official. It is anticipated that as the NBA and NBPA get closer to reaching an agreement to lower the age limit leading to one-and-done, executives will be allowed to scout events of this nature.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported in May that the NBA sent a memo to teams stating eligibility rules are unlikely to change before the 2021 or 2022 drafts, and it is now widely believed in NBA circles that 2022 is the earliest a new age limit would go into effect, which creates little urgency to reinsert executives back into high school gyms now.
As part of the minicamp, players will go through a number of seminars led by USA Basketball’s recently announced partners in this initiative.
The newly instilled health and wellness program, led by former Boston Celtics athletic trainer and physical therapist Ed Lacerte, will provide players with year-round medical expertise intended to ensure that America’s top athletes are receiving proper education and attention to ailments in order to sustain long and healthy basketball careers.
Players will also participate in life skills sessions covering social media use, healthy relationships, NCAA recruiting and eligibility, and character development.
A parent program will feature sessions with presentations on managing collegiate eligibility and recruiting, an overview of the health and wellness program, and discussions with NBA league office representative and former all-star Shareef Abdur Rahim. Joining Abdur Rahim in the parent panel discussion will be his wife Delicia, as well as Christine Drummond, mother of Andre Drummond, and Tonja Stelly, mother of potential 2018 lottery pick Quentin Grimes, a freshman at Kansas.
For the first time, one parents’ flights and accommodations will be paid once per year as part of their child’s participation in a USA Basketball event.
“This will be a very different minicamp than the previous camps as we have more than 80 elite players attending from four classes,” said Don Showalter, in a release provided to ESPN. Showalter is head coach of the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team, who has won 10 consecutive gold with USA’s U16 and U17 national teams, and traditionally leads the on-court portion of these events.
“We are not only concentrating on basketball skills, but also health and wellness, life skills education and a parent education program. Working together with the NBA, NCAA and NBPA will certainly be beneficial for the players. We have outstanding coaches working the camp, so the basketball skills work will be conducted at a very high and advanced level.
“Our goal is to provide the necessary skills both on and off the court to help each player improve and be closer in reaching their full potential as a player and person.”
The full 87 player roster can be found here (https://www.usab.com/mens/junior-national/roster.aspx).