Ahearn to Vie for Team USA Roster Spot

Twenty-one players under contract to play in the NBA Development League in 2011-12, including seven with previous USA Basketball experience, have accepted invitations to participate in the Oct. 14-22 USA Pan American Games Team training camp. The training camp will be utilized to select the USA’s 12-man roster that will compete in the 2011 Pan American Games that are being held from Oct. 26-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

One player who has been invited to the team tryout is BayHawk guard, Blake Ahearn. Ahearn averaged nearly 17 points and 6 assist last season as a member of the Erie squad. While playing collegiately at Missouri State, the 6'2" guard set the NCAA all-time career mark for free throw shooting percentage (435 for 460 - 94.6%). His sharpshooting ability, matched by his supreme court vision and basketball intelligence has garnerd him national recognition.

Expected to join Ahearn at the USA Pan American Games Team training camp are: Brian Butch (Injured for 2010-11 season/Wisconsin ‘08); Chris Daniels (KCC Egis, South Korea/Texas A&M-Corpus Christi ‘08); Justin Dentmon (Texas Legends/Washington ‘09); Jerome Dyson (Tulsa 66ers/Connecticut ‘10); Moses Ehambe (Iowa Energy/Oral Roberts ‘08); Anthony Goods (Dakota Wizards/Stanford ‘09); Ron Howard (Fort Wayne Mad Ants/Valparaiso ‘06); Marcus Lewis (Tulsa 66ers/Oral Roberts ‘09); Leo Lyons (Austin Toros/Missouri ‘09); Renaldo Major (Dakota Wizards/Fresno State ‘04); Anthony Mason, Jr. (Sioux Falls Skyforce/St. Johns ‘10); Matt Rogers (Texas Legends/Southwest Baptist ‘10); Walker Russell (Fort Wayne Mad Ants/Jacksonville State ‘06); Donald Sloan (Reno Bighorns/Texas A&M ‘10); Gregory Stiemsma (Sokhumi Tbilisi, Georgia/Wisconsin ‘09); Curtis Sumpter (Maroussi BC, Greece/Villanova ‘07); Lance Thomas (Austin Toros/Duke ‘10); Curtis Withers (Angeles de Puebla, Mexico/Charlotte ‘06); Chris Wright (Dayton ‘11); and Luke Zeller (Bakersfield Jam/Notre Dame ‘09).

“I think the overall depth of the 21 guys and the versatility they have to play multiple positions will be a great asset for the team,” said Tulsa 66ers head coach Nate Tibbetts, who on July 27 was named by USA Basketball head mentor of the USA Men’s Pan American Games Team. “Also, the wealth of experience these players have had both in the NBA D-League and overseas will be very beneficial. We are looking forward to getting training camp started in Tulsa to see these 21 players compete for roster spots.”

Assisting Tibbetts on the USA bench are Tulsa 66ers coaching staff members Jermaine Byrd and Dale Osbourne. Additionally, Austin Toros head coach Brad Jones and Idaho Stampede head coach Randy Livingston are assisting as court coaches during the USA’s training camp.

Boasting of prior USA Basketball playing experience are seven invitees: Butch (2007 USA Pan American Games Trials and 2002 Youth Development Festival North Team); Goods (2004 Youth Development Festival West Team); Sumpter (2004 USA U20 Championship Team); Thomas (2006 USA U16 Championship Team and 2005 Youth Development Festival Blue Team); Withers (2005 USA U21 World Championship Team and 2004 USA U20 Championship Team); Wright (2010 USA Select Team); and Zeller (2004 Youth Development Festival North Team).

Ten different NBA Development League teams have players participating in the USA training camp who were members of their 2010-11 roster. The Austin Toros, Dakota Wizards, Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Texas Legends and Tulsa 66ers feature two players each, while Bakersfield Jam, Erie BayHawks, Iowa Energy, Reno Bighorns and Sioux Falls Skyforce have one player apiece. Four players played in a foreign professional league in 2010-11, one completed his collegiate career in ’10-’11, while one was injured and did not play during the 2010-11 season.

The training camp participants range between the ages of 23 and 29 years old. Wright, who will be 23 years old when training camp opens, is the youngest participant and Major lists as the oldest at 29 years old.

The Pan American Games, held every four years in the year prior to the Olympics, are being held Oct. 13-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico. The men’s basketball competition, which features eight teams, is being conducted Oct. 26-30.

The USA men were drawn into Group B for the Pan American Games and are joined by national teams from Brazil, Dominican Republic and Uruguay. Competing in Group A are Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The U.S. men open preliminary round play Oct. 26 facing Dominican Republic (5:30 p.m. CDT), then face defending Pan American Games champion Brazil on Oct. 27 (8 p.m. CDT), and conclude preliminary play versus Uruguay (5:30 p.m. CDT) on Oct. 28. Semifinals action will be played Oct. 29, and the finals will be contested on Oct. 30.

Training camp for the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s Pan American Games Team will held Oct. 14-22 at the Tulsa Convention Center (Okla.). The 12-member USA Men’s Pan American Games Team will be announced before the team departs Oct. 23 for the Pan American Games competition in Mexico.

The player and coaching staff selections were made by the USA Basketball Men’s Pan American Games Committee, approved by USA Basketball's Board of Directors and are subject to final approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer.

The USA Basketball Pan American Games Committee is chaired by USA Basketball Men’s National Team Director Sean Ford, and also comprised of Tibbetts, 2000 Olympic gold medalist Steve Smith, NBA Development League Vice President of Basketball Operations & Player Personnel Chris Alpert, and NBA Development League consultant Gordon Chiesa.

USA Men In The Pan American Games
The Pan American Games are organized by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) and are a multi-sport competition open to men and women representing countries from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean.

Comprised of college players, the USA men in the 2007 Pan Ams dropped their first two games and then reeled off three consecutive wins to finish 3-2 and in fifth place. The American men have earned a medal in 12 of their 15 Pan Am Games appearances, including a record eight golds, as well as three silvers and one bronze. The U.S. men currently own an 84-13 (.866 winning percentage) all-time mark at the Pan Am Games.

Held since 1951, the USA dominated the first five Pan Am Games, earning five consecutive golds. At the 1971 Pan Ams, despite a record of 2-1 in the preliminary round, the USA did not advance to the medal round and for the first time in Pan American history did not win the gold medal. However, the United States rebounded for a 26-0 record over the next three Pan Am Games and captured its last Pan Am gold in 1983. The gold medal has eluded U.S. teams the past six Pan American Games as the Americans have earned three silvers and a bronze medal.

Many USA Basketball athletes who have been selected to a Pan American Games team have gone on to compete in the Olympic Games, while many others enjoyed stellar professional careers. In all, 34 USA Pan Am basketball players have also been a member of a U.S. Olympic squad, including Ernie Grunfeld, Grant Hill, Luscious Jackson, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, Danny Manning, Chris Mullin, Emeka Okafor, Sam Perkins, Oscar Robertson, David Robinson, Isiah Thomas, Jerry West and Jo Jo White.

While the list of former Pan American Games players is impressive, the list of head coaches is even more striking. The list of head coaches of USA Pan American Games teams includes Jay Wright (2007), Tom Izzo (2003), Mo McHone (1999); Mike Thibault (1995); Gene Keady (1991); Denny Crum (1987); Jack Hartman (1983); Bob Knight (1979); Marv Harshman (1975); Jim Gudger (1971) Hal Fischer (1967); Garland Pinholster (1963); Fred Schaus (1959); Lt. Norman Pilgrim (1955); and Hal Fischer and John Longfellow (1951).

USA Basketball
Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA Basketball is a nonprofit organization and the national governing body for men's and women's basketball in the United States. As the recognized governing body for basketball in the United States by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Basketball is responsible for the selection, training and fielding of USA teams that compete in FIBA sponsored international basketball competitions, as well as for some national competitions.

Since 2008, USA Basketball men’s and women’s teams have compiled a sterling 134-6 win-loss record in FIBA or FIBA Americas competitions. USA teams are the current men’s and women’s champions of the Olympics and the FIBA World Championships; FIBA women’s U19 world champions; the men’s and women’s title holders for the FIBA U17 World Championships; and the men’s and women’s U18 and U16 FIBA Americas champions. USA Basketball currently ranks No. 1 in all five of FIBA's world ranking categories, including combined, men's, women's, boys and girls.