As Team USA was winning the basketball gold medal at the 2008 Olympics, Tyreke Evans was home watching on television and thinking, "Man, I’d like to get me one of those."
Evans will now get that chance. The Sacramento Kings guard, who last week was named the NBA’s 2009-10 Rookie of the Year, was introduced Tuesday at the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas as one of four additions to USA Basketball’s roster for its July 19-24 minicamp at Cox Pavilion. The U.S. squad will prepare for the FIBA World Championships, which begin August 28 in Turkey.
"I can’t think of a bigger honor than to wear that jersey and represent your country," said Evans, who was added to the roster along with Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Oklahoma City’s Jeff Green and Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince, bringing the player pool total to 31. "I think my game fits in well with what they do. I can defend, I like to drive and penetrate, and I can play without the ball."
Coach Mike Krzyzewski thinks the same thing.
"Physically, he has the strength to play internationally," Krzyzewski said. "I think he’ll flourish. He’s good on the ball defensively; he really pushes it on offense. He’s someone we want to see develop in our program."
The 6-foot-6-inch Evans, who has had two prior stints with USA Basketball as a member of the National Youth Program and Junior National Team, said he’s looking forward to practicing with the country’s best players. But there’s a good chance that several of the elite members of Team USA won’t be participating this summer.
LeBron James has said he will probably take the summer off. Dwyane Wade has personal issues. Carmelo Anthony is getting married. Chris Bosh is coming off an injury, and Kobe Bryant might have to have knee surgery.
In addition, with James, Wade and Bosh facing free agency, they might not be signed in time to participate. A player not under contract to an NBA team cannot play for USA Basketball.
"We’ll know more on July 1 and July 15," USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said regarding the availability of his core players. "But it’s exciting for someone like Tyreke to get an opportunity, and out of opportunity comes a lot of things."
Evans, who averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds for the Kings, said it’s up to him to take advantage of the chance.
"I’m going to fit in, do what the coaches ask and play hard whenever I’m out there," he said. "I really want to be part of this."
The Kings’ management is glad to see Evans participating.
"I think the experience he’s going to get playing with those great players will be invaluable," co-owner Gavin Maloof said. "He’ll pick up things that will make him a better player and make us a better team."
Maloof’s brother Joe said: "The opportunities only come along once in a lifetime. Tyreke is the face of our franchise, and playing for the national team can only help him get better."
The July minicamp kicks off USA Basketball’s three-year commitment to Las Vegas. At the conclusion of this year’s minicamp will be the USA Basketball Showcase on July 24 at the Thomas & Mack Center, the team’s Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage. Tickets, priced at $12, $18, $35, $50 and $75, are on sale at the Thomas & Mack box office and at UNLVtickets.com.
"We expect the roster we’ve put together for the world championships will be competitive and the minicamp in Las Vegas will be very competitive," Colangelo said. "We had a great run in 2008. We accomplished our mission. Now, we start over."
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913.USA Basketball announces Las Vegas schedule