Durham County

Amile Jefferson was a national champion. Can he add a world championship?

Duke co-captain forward Amile Jefferson (21) was named Tuesday to the USA Basketball roster that will compete in World Cup qualifying.
Duke co-captain forward Amile Jefferson (21) was named Tuesday to the USA Basketball roster that will compete in World Cup qualifying. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Amile Jefferson helped Duke win a national championship and now he’ll get a chance to play for the U.S. national team.

Jefferson, who was on the 2015 NCAA Tournament champion Blue Devils, was selected Tuesday for the 12-player USA roster that will compete in the first round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers.

Jefferson currently is playing professionally with the Iowa Wolves of the NBA G League. He was selected for the national team by the USA Basketball World Cup Qualification Committee. Former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy will coach the team in the qualifying tournament.

The team also will have a Tar Heel flavor.

Jefferson will be joined on the team by former UNC center Kennedy Meeks, who was a member of the Tar Heels’ 2017 national championship team. Meeks currently is playing for the Raptors 905 of the NBA G League. Larry Drew II and Travis Wear, who each played at UNC before transferring to UCLA, were named to the squad, too.

“USA Basketball has put together a versatile roster that has a mix of youth and experience highlighted by our four returning players from this summer’s AmeriCup gold medal team,” Van Gundy said. “Puerto Rico and Mexico are outstanding teams that are extremely well coached, and we will have our hands full in our games against them. We are excited about the challenge, and I know we all have great pride in representing our country.”

The team will begin training Friday in Greensboro and will play two first-round games, versus Puerto Rico on Nov. 23 (7:30 p.m.) at the University of Central Florida’s CFE Arena in Orlando, and on Nov. 26 (5 p.m.) versus Mexico at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex Fieldhouse.

Four members of the gold-medal winning 2017 USA Basketball AmeriCup Team return to the roster: Drew, Reggie Hearn, Xavier Mumford and Jameel Warney. Rounding out the USA roster are Jefferson, Markel Brown, Semaj Christon, Jarell Eddie, Meeks, Elijah Millsap, Donald Sloan and Wear.

Jefferson continues a long history of Duke’s connection to USA Basketball. The Blue Devils have had at least one current or former player compete on a USA Basketball team every year since 1988, while head coach Mike Krzyzewski has coached 15 medal-winning USA teams (11 golds).

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews

  Comments