Pretty cool stuff that I wanted to get to yesterday, but such is life.
At any rate, Jamie Dixon had to be pleased with the news that incoming freshman, James Robinson, was named as a finalist for Team USA's Under-18 squad.
A couple of months ago, I mentioned that Robinson was selected to tryout for the team. But actually making it is an entirely different prospect. That is a real possibility now with Robinson being named as a finalist. There are 14 of them and 12 will be selected for the final team.
Steven Adams gets all the pub (as he should), but Robinson's kind of coming in under the radar. Here's the thing - in other seasons, he'd be Pitt's top recruit. Recruiting rankings aren't everything, but his ascension in moving up the list of top players is worth noting. This has nothing to do with it, but I can't help but draw the point guard comparison. What Robinson's doing is also the exact opposite of what the now-departed Isaiah Epps did. Robinson has moved up the charts and is looking close to a five-star recruit, while Epps fell from those heights to a more modest ranking.
That's nothing against Epps - it's merely to point out that Robinson is becoming a bigger star by the day. He's been buried a bit under the Steven Adams madness, but this should bring him a bit more attention. If Robinson is able to make the team, he'll surely be noticed a bit more.
Beyond all this, though, Robinson will be a welcome addition to Pitt - I'll have more on this at a later date.
Meanwhile, about that team, Jim Boeheim talked about the struggle in making the cuts:
"This trials has been very difficult," said USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee chair Jim Boeheim. "You had 23 guys who all are really good players, there wasn’t a bad player here. To get down to 12 is going to be difficult but I think we’re going to end up with a really good athletic team that is going to be very well coached. I think we’ve got an unbelievable coaching staff. I think we’ve got guys that have won, been winners, won state championships, and I think they’ll represent USA Basketball extremely well in this tournament."
Winning? Check. Robinson's high school was 30-6, nationally ranked, and ranked No. 1 in Maryland. Plus, his 120 victories made him the winningest player in school history.
Meanwhile, Billy Donovan, the team's head coach talked about the priority:
"I think for style of play there’s no question that this group will probably be more productive in an up tempo style of play. Running and pressing and those things will be important.
"Now with practice getting started tomorrow we’ll at least have the chance to start implementing things on offense, things on defense, you know things we need to do – full court pressure, half court pressure, so there’s a lot to get in a short period of time. There’s two things; One you don’t want to overwhelm them with so much, but you really want to get some things in that they can really be effective in a certain style of play.
We'll see - two more players to beat out. Robinson, from what I've read, isn't a running type of player. Appropriately, Pitt isn't a running type of team. But the pick won't only come down to that, so Robinson's clearly got a shot.