Team USA Twosome
Monroe, Drummond earn invitations to National Team minicamp
Maurice Cheeks now has two outstanding reasons to be in Las Vegas in late July. Already on his docket is a 30th reunion of the Philadelphia 76ers 1983 NBA championship team. He can write it off as a business trip if he chooses, though, because Cheeks certainly will want to check in on two of the most compelling reasons he was interested in becoming Pistons coach, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
The two young franchise cornerstones will be in Las Vegas, as well, as part of USA Basketball’s National Team minicamp July 22-25.
Twenty-seven of the NBA’s most promising young players, representing 19 teams, will assemble under coach Mike Krzyzewski, who recently agreed to another stint as National Team coach after leading the United States to gold medals in each of the past two Olympic games. Only Cleveland – with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller invited – has more than the Pistons’ two representatives.
“It’s a great honor and opportunity for Greg and Andre to be a part of the USA Basketball minicamp,” said Joe Dumars, who drafted Monroe with the No. 7 pick in 2010 and grabbed Drummond in 2012 with the No. 9 pick.
Beyond the recognition, an invitation to the minicamp marks its participants as under consideration for future National Team berths. The opportunity seems especially keen for Monroe and Drummond as big men. The 2012 USA Olympic gold medalists lined up with only Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love as traditional NBA interior players, making use of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Durant to fill in the cracks at power forward as necessary.
“Being invited to the Team USA minicamp is definitely an honor,” Monroe said. “I’m excited to be playing against some of the best young talent in the NBA for a few days and hope to gain experience I can use going forward.”
“It’s an honor to be invited to participate in the Team USA camp along with this group of great young players,” Drummond said. “I’m looking forward to the experience and hope to learn from it.”
Four days of intense competition against some of the best and brightest young big men in the league can only hasten the learning curve for both Monroe and Drummond as they try to make an impression on the Team USA staff, led by managing director Jerry Colangelo, Krzyzewski and his staff that includes Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, Pelicans coach Monty Williams and Syracuse University’s Jim Boeheim.
Among the other young big men who’ll be attempting to stake a claim to a future Olympic roster berth are three members of Monroe’s 2010 draft class: Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, Utah’s Derrick Favors and Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders. Two members of Drummond’s 2012 class, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and Cleveland’s Tyler Zeller, will be joined by DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver’s Kenneth Faried and Chicago’s Taj Gibson.
In addition to the Pistons, NBA teams with two representatives apiece are Washington (John Wall, Bradley Beal), Golden State (Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson), Denver (Faried, Ty Lawson), Utah (Favors, Gordon Hayward) and New Orleans (Davis, Ryan Anderson).
Rounding out the 27-player roster are Mike Conley of Memphis, DeMar DeRozan of Toronto, Paul George of Indiana, Jrue Holiday of Philadelphia, Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio, Chandler Parsons of Houston and Kemba Walker of Charlotte.
Both Monroe and Drummond have prior experience with USA Basketball, Monroe in 2007 as part of the Youth Development Festival and Drummond in both 2009, as part of the U16 World Championship team, and 2010, when he was a member of the U17 World Championship team.
“The group of players we have assembled for the minicamp is extremely talented and very versatile,” Colangelo said in USA Basketball’s press release. “This is an important opportunity for each one of them because we will be evaluating which players will continue to be involved in future USA National Team training camps and teams.”