HAVERFORD, Pa. - Michigan State senior guard Drew Neitzel was one of 12 players named to the 2007 USA Basketball Pan American Games men's basketball team on Tuesday. The player selections were made after USA Basketball conducted five trials sessions between July 12-14 and four practices between July 15-17 at Haverford College (Pa.).
In addition to Neitzel, players selected for the 2007 USA Pan American Games Team roster were: Joey Dorsey (Memphis / Baltimore, Md.); Wayne Ellington (North Carolina / Wynnewood, Pa.); Shan Foster (Vanderbilt / Kenner, La.); James Gist (Maryland / Silver Spring, Md.); Roy Hibbert (Georgetown / Adelphi, Md.); Maarty Leunen (Oregon / Redmond, Ore.); Derrick Low (Washington State / Honolulu, Hawaii); Eric Maynor (Virginia Commonwealth / Fayetteville, N.C.); Scottie Reynolds (Villanova / Herndon, Va.); Kyle Weaver (Washington State / Beloit, Wis.); and D.J. White (Indiana / Tuscaloosa, Ala.).
"This was difficult of a decision as any I've been involved in with USA Basketball. Every kid here could play on this team and we would be proud to take them to Brazil. We just had to decide do we want to play with some extra guards and some extra bigs and maybe not as many wings, and that's really what it came down to," stated USA and Villanova University head coach Jay Wright.
"I think it has been difficult for everybody on the team and even the coaching staff to really, really think like a team because we were all so concerned with the cuts. We became close, but everybody kind of felt like they had one foot out the door. Now I think everybody will feel `alright we're in this' and now we're going to go down there as a team, as a family, and were going to start building that now. We've got to learn who is going to play what spots, who's going to have what roles, and I think it will move quickly now that we know who the squad is."
Wright is being assisted on the USA bench by University of Alabama head mentor Mark Gottfried and Yale University head coach James Jones.
Ellington (2006 Nike Hoop Summit, 2005 Youth Development Festival Blue Team); Leunen (2003 Youth Development Festival West Team); Reynolds (2005 Youth Development Festival White Team); and White (2004 Nike Hoop Summit and 2003 Youth Development Festival South Team) all possess previous USA Basketball experience.
Honors also are plentiful for the USA finalists. Collegeinsider.com named Maynor to its Mid-Major All-America Team, selected Hibbert for its Defensive All-America Team, and named Reynolds to its Freshmen All-America Team. Also, Reynolds collected Big East Rookie of the Year honors, while Dorsey earned Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year recognition from their respective conferences.
Named to their respective 2006-07 all-conference teams were: Dorsey (All-Conference USA first team); Hibbert (All-Big East first team); Low (All-Pacific-10 first team); Maynor (All-Colonial Athletic Association first team); Neitzel (All-Big Ten first team); Weaver (All-Pacific-10 first team); White (All-Big Ten second team); Foster (All-Southeastern honorable mention); Leunen (All-Pacific-10 honorable mention); and Reynolds (All-Big East honorable mention).
The USA roster features nine players who will be seniors in 2007-08, one who will be a junior and two who will be sophomores in 2007-08.
USA Pan American Games Team's training will continue through July 18 at Haverford College (Pa.), and July 19-21 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
The USA Pan American Games squad will compete July 25-29 in the 2007 Pan American Games men's basketball competition. The United States has been placed in preliminary round Group A along with Argentina, Panama and Uruguay, and Group B consists of Brazil, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The U.S. opens preliminary play July 25 facing Uruguay (10 p.m. Rio de Janeiro local time), then meets Panama on July 26 (7:45 p.m. Rio de Janeiro local time) and the U.S. closes out preliminary round action against Argentina on July 27 (7:45 p.m. Rio de Janeiro local time). Semifinals will be held on July 28 and the finals will be played July 29.