While guys are trying to make a name for themselves in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, the NBA’s next group of stars was busy ballin’ in New Zealand. In honor of Team USA’s U19 Gold Medal victory in the FIBA World Championships this past weekend, here are five players from the team who will become household names during the 2009-10 NCAA season.
Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3 G Kansas – Taylor led Team U19 in points (10.8), assists (4.4) and steals (1.8) during the 2009 FIBA World Championships and was named to the All-Star Five Tournament Team. Look for this combo guard to have a break out year at Kansas as he has some of the nation’s quickest hands and feet which will allow him to get in the paint, get easy buckets, play disturbing defense and get lots of steals. As a freshmen at KU, he topped the 20-point mark three times including 26 points, three assists and a steal against Oklahoma’s Willie Warren.
Howard Thompkins, 6-8 F Georgia – Thompkins averaged 10.6 points and 5.0 rebounds a game as a key player for the U19 team’s frontcourt. This big man can bang in the paint but also has a smooth face up game that can extend out to the three point line (33/86 during his freshmen year). As a freshman at GU, he was second in scoring and led his team in rebounding with 12.6 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. If Thompkins can have games like his 22 and 14 against Alabama or his 19 and 11 against Kentucky, becoming a consistent double-double threat every game, then he will definitely be one of best players in the SEC next year.
Gordon Hayward, 6-8 G/F Butler – Hayward is a do-it-all combo guard/forward who averaged 10 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocks a game while being named to the All-Star Five Tournament Team. Besides improving on his consistency, Hayward has all the skills to become the next Mid Major star in America as he has a smooth jump shot, can get to the rim, rebounds and plays defense. His freshman year he averaged 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 82% from the line and 45% from beyond the arc, which included scoring 18 or more nine times during the season, including 27 and 9 against Davidson and 19 and 10 against Xavier.
Ashton Gibbs, 6-2 G Pittsburgh – Pacing the Americans, Gibbs averaged 9.8 points and 2.2 assists a game during the 2009 FIBA World Championships. He only played 10.8 minutes a game (4.3 points) during his freshman year, but is a strong guard with a nice jumper which will give him plenty of playing time this season. Playing on a stacked Pittsburgh squad that just lost Sam Young, DeJuan Blair and Levance Fields, Gibbs will be a go-to player and leader for Coach Jamie Dixon’s young Pittsburgh squad.
Seth Curry, 6-3 G Duke (Liberty Transfer) – The younger brother of Stephen Curry, Seth was the sparkplug off the bench for the U19 team as he averaged 9.0 points and 2.2 rebounds all while shooting 40% from long range. Seth will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations, but will be a key component to Coach K’s offense in the 2010-2011 season. Like his older brother, Seth is a prolific scorer who was the leading scorer for freshmen with 20.2 points a game which included topping 30 points four different times last year.