Gregg Popovich has been waiting for this opportunity to coach the Team USA basketball squad, and he will soon get his chance.
The team announced its 35-player pool Friday, and the team will gather for minicamp at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center on July 25-27.
“It’s quite the thought when you think about being on the court with all these players,” Popovich said. “That’s quite a brotherhood. There’s a lot of talent there. There are a lot of friendships. They enjoy getting together.
”The culture has been established already with USA Basketball and everything that they’ve done. To see that in action and to see all these guys come together in Vegas this summer is going to be pretty exciting.”
Popovich, who has won five NBA championships with the San Antonio Spurs, takes over the team for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K won three Olympic gold medals and two world championships for the U.S.
The national team has trained in Las Vegas since 2006, and its minicamp at UNLV will be to set the stage for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China and 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
LeBron James, Stephen Curry and James Harden are among the players on the roster.
It’s a roster that includes 11 players who were on the 2016 team that won the gold medal at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as well as four players who have combined to win eight of the past nine NBA MVP awards.
“I don’t think there’s any substitute for experience,” Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo said. “With this roster, just looking at how many of these people are gold medalists and have participated and experienced the winning situation. They’re not novices in international play, so that’s a leg up. There’s no question about that. And the mere fact that when you look at this list, these people have all indicated a desire to be part of our national team.
“That is the greatest thing about this list in my opinion, that there’s such buy-in for USA Basketball and the fact that they want to represent their country. We’re very pleased with that.”