Rising concerns amid multiple terror attacks in Egypt are causing several former Team USA participants to evaluate the risk of playing in the U19 FIBA World Cup scheduled for next month.
Of course, Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari is coaching that U19 squad and many thought he might use it as an opportunity to place several members of Kentucky’s 2017-2018 squad on that team, but that is looking like it might not be the case.
“I don’t think any of our guys will play,” Calipari told The Cats’ Pause last week at SEC meetings in Destin, Fla. “Maybe Hami. I don’t think our other guys will.”
One of the reasons for that could be the safety concerns after multiple attacks.
P.J. Washington’s father, Paul, made it seem as if it was very unlikely his son would participate.
“It’s up in the air, just with the whole security concern,” Paul Washington told SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker. “Do you have any kids? Would you allow them to go to Egypt right now?”
He added, “They said they’ve ramped up security. They’re trying to make you feel comfortable. But I don’t know if we’re comfortable with P.J. going. We don’t have to put our kid in danger on purpose. That’s really the concern. Nothing against Cal, nothing against USA Basketball. Just if you don’t have to be in that situation, why do it?”
Kevin Knox Sr. told Tucker that they have still not decided if his son will participate in the tournament or not, and cited the safety concerns.
“We don’t know yet,” Knox Sr. said. “We’re still basically trying to work out all the logistics of what’s going on overseas, waiting to hear back from Cal and USA Basketball as far as some of the security measures they’re going to take to protect the kids.”
Many of Kentucky’s incoming freshmen have Team USA experience, including Knox, Washington, Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo, and Jarred Vanderbilt. Having those guys on the squad would give a nice experience boost to Calipari’s squad internationally, but also allow him to work with them before the college basketball season kicks off.
The FIBA Tournament runs from July 1-9. The camp starts June 18 in Colorado Springs, according to Tucker.
But with many of those guys opting not to play, it seems likely Calipari will add rising seniors to his roster.
This also serves as a great recruiting benefit for Kentucky, as evidenced by Mohamed Bamba making it well-known his relationship he forged with Texas Coach Shaka Smart during their Team USA run was a defining factor in his commitment to spend his (likely) one year in college basketball in Austin.
Maybe a couple Kentucky guys will join Team USA, but that’s seeming unlikely. If anyone does, it seems Diallo is a popular choice. Outside of that, I would look for a lot of 2018 recruits to jump at the chance if they feel that they will be safe during their stay in Egypt.
Hopefully each of the teams competing in the tournament are safe throughout and there are no incidents.