A month-and-a-half out from the 2015 World University Games, Basketball Australia has named a 16-man squad for the tournament.
This group will head to Canberra for a training camp on June 14, with a final team of 12 to be decided over the following days. They will then head to China for several warm-up games before the World University Games get underway in South Korea. The 11-day tournament runs July 3-14.
Victoria is represented by five players, NSW next best at four, while Queensland and South Australia boast two and the ACT, Tasmania and Western Australia each have one.
Consisting of a mix of NBL talent, US college prodigies and emerging stars, Coach Andrej Lemanis is happy with the announced squad.
“The pleasing thing is it was a difficult decision to get down to 16 players,” he said.
“There are some quality players that missed out which is indicative of the strength of basketball currently in Australia.”
Shaun Bruce and Corey Maynard have experience playing together for the Cairns Taipans in the NBL while Maynard’s four years with Bryant University in the USA will prove valuable.
Together, they faced Mirko Djeric who has played the past three seasons with the Townsville Crocodiles while Mitch Creek averaged 11 points at 50% shooting for the Adelaide 36ers in 2014/15.
Speaking on the diversity in the team, Lemanis was excited for the three players of Sudanese origin.
“There is a changing landscape in Australian basketball and some of the opportunities that exist for immigrant players to come in and make a difference are great.”
Deng Deng has had two seasons in the US college system, playing for the Baylor Bears and Long Beach while Emmanuel Malou is a highly touted youngster who averaged almost 15 points and 9 rebounds per game in his most recent stint for Yuba College in Marysville, California.
Rounding out the trio is 208cm centre Mangok Mathiang who finished his freshman year with Louisville as the leader in blocks.
Those players are joined by others with US college experience including Dan Trist who has played four seasons with the Lafayette Leopards, Nicholas Duncan from Boise State and Peter Hooley whose game-winning shot on the buzzer for the University of Albany in March garnered international headlines.
Mitch McCarron is a stellar shooter from Metro State where he was earned the Division II Player of the Year award in 2014/15 while Xavier Cooks’ double-double in the Championship game of his freshman year for the Winthrop Eagles will hold him in good stead.
After knee injuries have hampered his progress, Matt Hodgson finally gets a chance to shine outside of South East Australian Basketball League competition where he is averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds.
Under the rim, 203cm Keanu Pinder and 213cm Darcy Malone will provide great size for Australia’s front court and the leadership of Hugh Greenwood will be integral as the guard already has over 50 international games for Australia under his belt.
As a stepping stone on the pathway to the Boomers, Lemanis does not believe the World University Games gets the recognition it deserves.
“From a basketball perspective, the World University Games is treated very seriously by all countries. It’s a fantastic standard of competition and the environment itself is the best replica you can get of an Olympics.
“Through this process we get a better understanding of our athletes, their ability to cope with international competition and make adjustments as well as the rigours of international travel.
“It’s great for our guys who want to play for the Boomers to get the opportunity to face the elite from around the world and find out where we are at.”
Australia men’s squad for the 2015 World University Games: Shaun Bruce (Qld), Xavier Cooks (NSW), Mitchell Creek (Vic), Deng Deng (Vic), Mirko Djeric (NSW), Nicholas Duncan (NSW), Hugh Greenwood (Tas), Matthew Hodgson (Qld), Peter Hooley (SA), Mitchell McCarron (Qld), Darcy Malone (ACT), Emmanuel Malou (Vic), Mangok Mathiang (Vic), Corey Maynard (SA), Keanu Pinder (WA), Daniel Trist (NSW).