Smart Selection: C's Rook on USA Select Team

BOSTON – If Marcus Smart’s summer league performance wasn’t enough to get you excited about his future with the Celtics, maybe this will: Smart was one of 13 players chosen on Tuesday as a member of the 2014 USA Men’s Select Team.

The Select Team has served as a major feeder system to the USA Men’s National Team for the past eight years. Current All-Stars and National Team members such as Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, as well as many other top NBA players, have played for the Select Team in the past.

There are no ifs, ands or buts about it: If you’re chosen to the Select Team, USA Basketball eyes you as a potential National Team player in the future. In other words, you’re one of the nation’s top players.

USA Basketball began developing the Select Team in 2006. That’s when Jerry Colangelo took over the reigns of the USA program with an eye on returning it to its status as an international powerhouse.

The creation and development of the Select Team has served USA Basketball two-fold. First and foremost, the Select Team serves as a top-flight opponent that challenges the National Team as it prepares for major international competitions. Secondly, it opens the door for America’s top young basketball players to learn the ropes of the program.

“USA Basketball’s Select Teams are critical for getting some of the game’s brightest and most promising young players experience at the USA National Team level, and getting them into our pipeline,” Colangelo said Tuesday in USA Basketball’s official press release. “Again this summer, as was done in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012, the members of the USA Select Team will play an important role in helping prepare the USA Natonal Team for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.”

Preparation for the World Cup will begin more than a month in advance of the opening game, which will be played on Aug. 30 in Spain. The Select Team and National Team will gather together from July 28-31 in Las Vegas for a four-day training camp. The Select Team will serve as the National Team’s opponent during the camp.

This will be the second consecutive summer in which Smart will participate in USA Basketball’s summer camp. A year ago, he, along with Creighton’s Doug McDermott, were the only collegiate players who were invited to USA Basketball’s mini-camp. Last year’s camp jumpstarted the program’s momentum toward this summer’s World Cup.

Participating in these camps is an invaluable experience for Smart. He has the opportunity be around the world’s best players for 24 hours a day, giving him a first-hand look at their work ethic and how they carry themselves on and off the court. Smart will also continue leaning the system that head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff use during international play.

Exposure to that environment could put Smart on the fast track toward becoming a future member of the National Team as well as an NBA star. As Colangelo stated, “Being chosen for the Select Team is an honor and an important step in becoming involved in USA Basketball’s National Team program in the future.” Additionally, the majority of the players who have cycled through the Select Team program since 2006 have gone on to become elite NBA players.

Boston invested its lottery pick in Marcus Smart with the belief that he can develop into one of those elite players. USA Basketball clearly agrees with that assessment, as evidenced by its continued interest in having Smart as a part of the program.

These are things to be excited about if you’re a Celtics fan. Danny Ainge and Colangelo don’t swing and miss very often.