(UNDATED) -- USA Basketball announced Thursday that Tennessee power forward Jarnell Stokes has been invited to take part in tryouts for the 2012 Men’s U18 National Team, which will compete at the2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship June 16-20 in Sao Sebastiáo do Paraiso, Brazil.
Eight teams will compete in the 2012 U18 zone qualifier, including the USA, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. The top four finishing teams will qualify for the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Men.
Originally known as the FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifier, the tournament was held every four years since 1990. FIBA changed its calendar, however, and the tournament is now conducted every other year, followed in the next summer by the FIBA U19 World Championship.
A native of Memphis, Tenn., who graduated high school early and enrolled at UT in January, Stokes made a huge impact for the Vols during the second half of the season. He averaged 9.6 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting .534 from the field en route to SEC All-Freshman Team honors. Stokes also led the Vols in blocked shots (1.4 bpg) and logged a pair of double-doubles.
“I’m thanking God for this opportunity,” Stokes said. “It’s an accomplishment just to be picked for tryouts, but my goal is to make the team, represent the state of Tennessee and help Team USA bring home the gold medal.”
Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin was an assistant coach with USA Basketball’s Men’s World University Games Team last summer.
“Anytime you have a chance to be a part of one of USA Basketball’s national teams, it’s a tremendous honor,” Martin said. “Jarnell has put the work in, and he’s earned the opportunity. His skills and his understanding of the game will be enhanced from this experience because of the level of competition and the coaching he’ll receive.
“And it’s great for our program to continue to have a presence with USA Basketball.”
Florida's Billy Donovan will serve as the U18 National Team head coach, while Mark Few of Gonzaga and Shaka Smart of VCU will be assistants. The coaching selections were made by the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee.
Players eligible for the competition must have been born on or after Jan. 1, 1994. The players represent 15 states, including five from Texas; three from Maryland; two from California, Georgia and North Carolina; along with one player each from Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.
In addition to rising sophomore Stokes, the training camp roster includes 17 high school seniors set to graduate in 2012 and six prep athletes from the Class of 2013.
“We have a very talented group of young players that will have a great chance of bringing home a gold medal in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship,” Syracuse head coach and chair of the USA Junior National Team Committee Jim Boeheim said “As is the case each year, our USA Team will be up against the best players in their age group in the world. They will face great competition from the other participating countries.”
The USA Team training camp takes place June 5-12 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., and June 13-15 at the tournament site in Brazil. Following the first three or four days of training camp in Colorado Springs, finalists for the team will be selected by the USA Men’s Junior National Team Committee and will continue to train at the USOTC.
USA men's teams are 38-2 in the U18 / Junior World Championship Qualifiers and have won gold in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010, while capturing silver in 2008 and bronze in 2002. Hosts of prior U18 championships are: San Antonio, Texas in 2010 and 2006; Formosa, Argentina in 2008; Isla Margarita, Venezuela in 2002; Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic in 1998; Santa Rosa, Argentina in 1994; and Montevideo, Uruguay in 1990.
The USA is the reigning champion from the 2010 U18 tournament, when Quincy Miller (Baylor) hit a game-winning 3-pointer to help down Brazil, 81-78. The USA brought home silver in 2008 after falling to host Argentina despite a tournament MVP performance by Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats).
Former Tennessee and NBA standout Allan Houston played for the USA Team in the 1990 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Uruguay.
In addition to Houston, some other players of note who have represented the United States in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship are: Shareef Abdur-Rahim (1994); Carmelo Anthony (2002); Michael Beasley (2006); Chris Bosh (2002); Dee Brown (2002); Nick Collison (1998); Jonny Flynn (2006); Spencer Hawes (2006); Grant Hill (1990); Andre Iguodala (2002); Kyrie Irving (2010); Stephon Marbury (1994); Mike Miller (1998); Quentin Richardson (1998); Austin Rivers (2010); Kyle Singler (2006); Kemba Walker (2008) and Deron Williams (2002).