The tournament is over, but there is still plenty to recap on with Lithuania's dominance, the Cleveland Cavaliers' passing on Jonas Valanciunas at No. 4 at the Draft, the US' disappointing finish and the highs and lows of the college stars.
Let's review the US squad that finished 5-1 in Group play and fifth overall in the tournament. The roster was comprised of 11 current college players and 1 more incoming freshman. Five athletes on the team were named to their respective conference's all-freshman teams, while several more were nabbed to the postseason tournament teams. Even with this talent, things did not get off to a great start for the Paul Hewitt-coach squad, losing its first two exhibition matches against tournament favorites Lithuania: 101-72 and 108-75 just days before the tournament.
Appling played in short stretches off the bench and played pretty steadily given the other point guards' struggles for the US squad. Hewitt stuck with Jackson for a majority of the minutes (23.6 minutes per game vs. Appling's 10 minutes) despite his quality play against Russia and Australia. Without Kalin Lucas or Durrell Summers in a Spartans' uniform this year, it's Appling's ship to be had.
Bell's biggest impact came against Canada where he sunk four 3s and tallied 16 points and 8 rebounds. Unfortunately, those were the only 3s Bell made all tournament (missing seven in the other 8 games) and the US could have certainly used some more perimeter shooting. Bell was a starter throughout, mostly for his perimeter defense, but Hewitt failed to have Bell defend Russian guard Dmitry Kulagin where he hit five 3s and had 14 of his 21 points in the first quarter.
Brown did not register enough minutes for him to qualify- earning three DNPs and limited-to-no meaningful action. Given what we have seen from Brown, he still needs to add strength to his lanky frame, but possesses a nice touch on his jumper with 3-point range.
Caron was the lone high-school senior/rising freshman on the roster and given the reigns, Carson performed well distributing the ball to teammates and playing some solid perimeter defense. In 11 minutes of action against Egypt in the tournament-opener, Carson tallied 7 assists and just one turnover. He had limited minutes moving forward as both physically and mentally he wasn't quite ready for action, but given his role, he performed well. He should be one of the Pac-10's best guards in a year or two.
Hardaway had some big games for the Wolverines in the postseason, but he was unable to carry over that momentum with Team USA in Latvia; he shot just 27 percent from 3-point range after coming onto the team as the team's most dangerous outside presence. What he lacked from the perimeter, he also lacked with his overall aggressiveness on the offensive end where he rarely drove the ball into the paint to finish at the rim or get to the foul line where he could capitalize, but instead settled for pull-up or spot-up jumpers. It wasn't until the final game of the tournament where Hardaway broke out of his shooting slump, knocking down three 3s and going off for 21 points and playing some solid defense against Australia.
The idea of Jackson was perfect- he was going to be the team's primary point guard and ball-handler, who is quick enough where none of the international defenders would be able to stay in front of him. But he struggled to distribute the ball and create shots for his teammates in the flow of the offense- he wound up with 37 assists and a team-high 30 turnovers (5.6 turnovers per 40 minutes). That was actually an improvement from his freshman year numbers where he had an assist-to-turnover ratio of .95.
Lamb played the best of Team USA's guards, but he still has some ways to go for the sophomore to take over as the Huskies' main scoring option in the absence of Kemba Walker next season. He has killer instincts on the offensive end, where he can hurt you with his deadly mid-range pull-up or with swift movements without the ball to free himself up. He single-handedly carried his team against Lithuania down the stretch and led the team back into the game against Russia, while also hitting the game-winning jumper against Australia in the tournament finale. His offensive performances ranged from a tournament-high 35 points against Lithuania and just 4 points against Australia. His lengthy 7'1" wingspan helped Lamb led the team in steals by nearly twice as many as Tim Hardaway Jr.
Khyle Marshall (Butler, SF): B+
5.7 points on 46.7 percent shooting, 3 rebounds, ,1 blocks
Marshall proved to be a dominating offensive rebounder during the NCAA Tournament as he sparked Butler's runs with 23 offensive rebounds in the Bulldogs' six games. True to form, Marshall had more boards on the offensive end (14) than on the defensive side (13). Most of his offense came off of second-chance opportunities with Team USA, but he should see more of a go-to role in Butler's pass-oriented offense as a sophomore.
Doug McDermott (Creighton, SF/PF): A-
11.3 points on 50.6 shooting, 6.1 rebounds, .1 blocks
McDermott was Team USA's best perimeter threat, scoring both from the outside and inside where he shot 57.4 percent from 2-point range and 39.4 percent from 3-point range, but most importantly, he was consistent. He was the third leading scorer and rebounder and he turned the ball over just three times (team-low) despite playing the second-most minutes on the team (238). He will be one of the Missouri Valley's best players next season.
Tony Mitchell Jr. (North Texas, SF/PF): B+
5 points on 46.2 per shooting, 7.6 rebounds, 1.7 blocks
After a year of ambiguity as an academic non-qualifier, Mitchell finally got on the court and showed off his physical gifts and athleticism, but also his hustle where he averaged a team-best 7.6 rebounds per game- Mitchell was also a strong offensive rebounder, hitting the glass for 23 second-chance opportunities. He struggled with his jump-shot and getting his offense within the team's rhythm, but that will come to him as he is able to get on the court this season with the Mean Green.
Patric Young (Florida, C): B
9.7 points on 72 percent shooting, 6.8 rebounds, .8 blocks
Young had himself quite a tournament as the starting center shooting 72 percent from the field, mostly on some tremendously powerful dunks around the rim where Young went over, around and through the defenders. While Young performed well against some much-anticipated match-ups against Lithuania, Croatia and Poland, he did not come with the same energy against others and failed to dominate against a weak China and Russia frontline.
Meyers Leonard (Illinois, C): B+
6.9 points on 63.4 percent shooting, 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks
Leonard was the best big on the US roster- hustling every minute he was in the game for blocks, rebounds and getting out in transition for buckets. If he can move his feet on the defensive end of the floor and stay out of foul trouble, Leonard could be one of the most improved players in the country.