Early last week, I wrote a piece on some of the top performers on Team USA's U17 squad after their dominance in the group stage. During those four games, Team USA won by an average margin of 46 points, that included an absolute destruction of Chinese Taipei where they won 119-45. That dominance stood as the squad entered tournament play, as they continued to roll through competition winning by an average margin of 43.5 points. Those games included two blowouts where they won by 50+ points (109-59 vs. Argentina and 133-81 vs. Korea).
Instead of going over the individual games, let's take a look at each member of the Team USA roster to see how they did in the tournament and how they project as future NCAA prospects.
Wendell Carter - 10.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.1 blocks per game on 58% shooting
Only averaging 15.3 minutes per game, Wendell Carter was still able to make a huge impact in that limited playing time. Whenever he was on the court, Carter regularly looked like the best player on the court as he looked like a man amongst boys at times. That was especially evident on the offensive end, as Carter stood as a versatile threat that was able to contribute in a variety of ways from working the offensive glass (3.1 offensive boards per game) to going out and hitting the occasional mid-range or perimeter jumper. To read more about him, make sure to check out our piece on him from last week.
Colin Sexton - 17.0 points, 4.2 assists, 4.0 rebound per game on 57% from the field, 45% from 3.
As I stated in last week's piece, Sexton's been one of the hottest high school prospects in the country after his dominance at the Nike EYBL. That awesome play transferred into the FIBA U17, as the 6'2 guard stood as a must-watch player whenever he touched the ball, due to his insane quickness, fantastic handles and explosiveness. Those ingredients allowed Sexton to just destroy the opposition in transition, as he flew down the court like Usian Bolt. Although he usually finished with safe layups, there were some occasions (like the play below) where he just electrified the arena with a massive slam.
Sexton was still incredibly solid in the half-court as he used those solid handles to create opportunities for himself. Working off-the-dribble, Sexton looks incredibly calm as he does a great job of knowing whether to pull up for a jumper or kicking it out to a teammate. For being such a good scorer, it's impressive to see that Sexton has solid court vision and knows when to dish it off. Those traits and just continued excelled led Sexton to being the MVP of the FIBA U17 tournament.
Troy Brown - 10 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3 assists per game on 44% shooting
Throughout the tournament, a prospect that I continued to be impressed by was Troy Brown. Standing at 6'6 with a 6'9 wingspan, Brown has that perfect frame for an NBA wing, which is impressive due to him only being 16. Perhaps more impressive than that is how Brown seems to combine natural athleticism with solid basketball IQ as the young wing sometimes seems to be a step or two ahead of everyone else. That vision allows Brown to know when he should facilitate, cut to the rim or just be there to snag an offensive rebound. While he averaged a solid 2.1 offensive boards per game, his most impressive rebound in in the play below.
Kevin Knox - 11.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.2 steals per game on 56% shooting
One player that I unfortunately left off last week's piece was top 2017 prospect Kevin Knox. Like Sexton or Carter, Knox is a player that immediately pops out at you whenever you watch him play. Standing 6'8, Knox really plays like an NFL free safety with the way that he was constantly surveying the court on defense with the mission of just stealing the rock. That was a regular occurrence for Knox as he averaged 2.2 steals per game on 17.4 minutes per game, which allowed him to make frequent plays in transition. While he wasn't super efficient in that area, Knox also shows a little range that spreads out to the FIBA 3-point line. That ability combined with his athleticism and defensive IQ gives credence to his status as one of the best prospects in the class of 2017.
Markus Howard - 11.9 points, 2.6 assists on 49% from the field and 50% from 3
Markus Howard was so automatic from the perimeter that I swore that opposing teams were already going to the other end of the court once the ball left his hands. Even if that isn't exactly true, Howard was just an amazing perimeter weapon, as he continued to make the nets ring throughout the tournament. While he was a fantastic shooter, Howard did show his knack as a passer, as you can see in the play below.
Carte'are Gordon - 11.6 points, 5.6 rebounds on 72% from the field
Despite entering the tournament as the youngest member of the team (just turned 16 in March), Gordon still showed that he was just as good as his older teammates. Gordon established a role as a fantastic offensive rebounder (3.3 offensive boards per game) that could shoot the mid-range jumper. Alongside that, he's a fantastic rim-runner, as you can see below.
Austin Wiley - 8 points, 6.4 rebounds on 45% per game from the field
Auburn commit Austin Wiley's an interesting prospect as he's a 6'10 forward that combines classic big man skills (post-ups and offensive rebounding) with solid athleticism and quickness. Wiley looks extremely comfortable working inside the paint, as he's become very proficient on the right block. Alongside that, he's an absolute tenacious offensive rebounder (3.4 offensive boards on 11.7 minutes per game). While he's very solid inside the low-post, Wiley excels as someone that can run in transition and ben an athletic force on defense. That athleticism is seen below, as Wiley just rises up to block the shot.
Gary Trent Jr - 12.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 steals per game on 43% from the field
In a similar way to how Kevin Knox worked as a free safety on the defensive end, Gary Trent seemed to be all over the place on offense. The 6'5 Trent was someone that could produce whether he had the ball or not. With the ball in his hands, Trent displayed a knack towards driving to the paint as he displayed himself as a solid finisher. Alongside that, he did a great job of working around off-ball screens to get open mid-range looks. Off-ball, Trent frequently worked as an off-ball cutter as his teammates were able to regularly find him. Even if they didn't find him, Trent figured ways to score.
Javonte Smart - 5.4 points, 3.4 assists per game in 19.4 minutes per game
Despite being pretty inefficient (shot 34% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc), the 2018 prospect showed flashes of why he's considered as an elite young player. A lot of that is due to great instincts as a facilitator, as he has great court vision and a solid grasp of working inside the pick-and-roll. So while he still needs to refine his offensive game as a scorer, he can still stand as an elite prospect primarily due to that his tremendous work as a pass-first point guard.
Jordan Brown - 5.9 points, 4.9 rebounds on 45% shooting in 12 minutes per game
Another 2018 prospect, Jordan Brown impressed in the limited time he was on the court. The young 6'10 forward might be one of the more promising prospects in that 2018 class due to his versatility on the offensive end. Over the course of the tournament, Brown displayed his skills as a post-up threat and mid-range shooter. That combined with his solid mobility should have Brown fielding numerous calls from college coaches from all over the country..
Jaren Jackson Jr. - 4.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks on 53% shooting in 14 minutes per game
With the team's loaded front-court getting a lot of shine, 2018 prospect Jaren Jackson Jr. was one of the prospects that was kinda overlooked during the tournament. However, he did impress when he was on the court, primarily on the defensive end. On that end, Jackson worked his tail off as he looked great as a help defender and seemed to enjoy closing out on perimeter shooters. That combined with his work on the offensive glass (1.8 offensive boards per game) allows Jackson to be a player to look out for.
Immanuel Quickley - 3.2 points, 3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game
Like a lot of the 2018 prospects, Immanuel Quickley didn't get a lot of playing time during the tournament. Even when he was on the court, Quickley was overshadowed by a lot of his teammates. However, Quickley did show some solid flashes, primarily in his athleticism and unselfish nature as a facilitator.
Despite the immense talent that shined on the team USA U17 roster, a lot of credit needs to go to the squad's coaching staff that helped lead this young core to a gold medal. The staff is led by long-time Team USA developmental coach Don Showalter, who is now an eight-time gold medalist with the U16 and U17 squads. Alongside Showalter are DeMatha Catholic High School head coach Mike Jones and Miles Simon, head coach of the California Supreme AAU squad. That great staff pushed the group of young men towards becoming a cohesive unit that just flourished on both sides of the court.