Stokes looking to lead U.S. national team

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/SUBMITTED) -- Tennessee basketball player Jarnell Stokes led USA Basketball’s U18 National Team to gold at last summer’s FIBA Americas Championship in Brazil.

This summer, his nation is calling upon him once again.

One of the nation’s top returning collegiate big men, Stokes plans to take part in USA Basketball’s U19 training camp June 14-19 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The complete list of training camp invitees has yet to be announced.

Training camp will include approximately 25 players age 19-and-under (born on or after Jan. 1, 1994) and will result in the selection of a 12-man team that will compete in the 16-team field at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic, June 27-July 7.

A rising junior from Memphis, Tenn., Stokes was the second-leading scorer (14.0 ppg) and rebounder (5.6 rpg) on last year’s U18 squad. That team gold-medal performance qualified the U.S. for a berth in this summer’s U19 World Championships.

Also advancing out of the 2012 U18 FIBA Americas Championship were Brazil (silver medalist), Canada (bronze medalist) and Argentina (fourth place); FIBA Africa advanced Senegal (gold medalist) and Ivory Coast (silver medalist); China (gold medalist), South Korea (silver medalist) and Iran (bronze medalist) earned berths out of FIBA Asia; Australia took FIBA Oceania’s spot after winning the best-of-three series against New Zealand; and FIBA Europe will be represented by host Czech Republic, Croatia (gold medalist), Lithuania (silver medalist), Serbia (bronze medalist), Russia (fourth place) and Spain (fifth place).

Of the 16 teams in this year’s competition, nine countries have won a U19 medal, including previous gold-medal-winners Australia, Lithuania, Serbia, Spain and the United States.

Last year’s USA Basketball U18 coaching staff – featuring head coach Billy Donovan (Florida) and assistants Mark Few (Gonzaga) and Shaka Smart (VCU) – will carry over to this year’s U19 team.

USA Basketball’s men’s teams are 69-13 in the U19/Junior World Championships and have won four gold and three silver medals, most recently finishing with a 7-2 record and in fifth place in 2011.

The Americans last won U19 gold in 2009.

“The FIBA U19 World Championship is always very competitive,” USA Basketball Executive Director/CEO Jim Tooley said. “Looking back at the last six competitions, it’s amazing to see that six different countries have claimed the gold medal. It’s going to be extremely difficult to win the gold medal in the Czech Republic, but we’re looking forward to the opportunity.”

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