Sometimes it helps to know the guy in charge. Rookie big Jahlil Okafor and swingman Jerami Grant were named to USA Basketball's Select Team roster this afternoon, and will participate in a minicamp in Las Vegas from July 18-21.
Okafor's inclusion on the Select Team should come with little surprise given his history with the program; he captured gold medals for the U.S. at the U17 and U19 World Championships in 2012 and 2013, in addition to a U16 title at 2011's FIBA Americas. He was named World Championship MVP at the tournament in 2012.
Grant's inclusion is a surprise but he too has gold-medal experience with the program, having taken home the gold at the U18 Championship in 2012. He represents something of an outlier among his peers on the Select Team roster as the only current NBA player selected in the second round to make the cut. The list is riddled with recent lottery picks, and even the college players selected -- such as Kris Dunn and Brandon Ingram -- figure to go fairly high in this year's draft.
The full list of players named to the team:
Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns); Malcolm Brogdon (University of Virginia); Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Detroit Pistons); Willie Cauley-Stein (Sacramento Kings); Kris Dunn (Providence College); Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic); Jerami Grant (Philadelphia 76ers); Gary Harris (Denver Nuggets); Rodney Hood (Utah Jazz); Brandon Ingram (Duke University); Brice Johnson (University of North Carolina), Stanley Johnson (Detroit Pistons); Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves); CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers); Doug McDermott (Chicago Bulls); Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver Nuggets); Jahlil Okafor (Philadelphia 76ers); Jabari Parker (Milwaukee Bucks); Julius Randle (Los Angeles Lakers); D'Angelo Russell (Los Angeles Lakers); Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Denzel Valentine (Michigan State University); Justise Winslow (Miami Heat) and Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets)
Some speculation may be in order regarding Grant's spot on the team. Jerry Colangelo reportedly lost some of his influence when he accepted a position with the Sixers but still has a say in selection of Team USA's roster and Olympic player pool. This could be taken as an indication the Colangelo family are fans of Grant, which bodes well for his future in a Sixers uniform.
Given the timing of the camp, this also seems to indicate that the folks at USA Basketball are convinced Okafor will be ready to rock by late July. Considering a minor knee procedure ended his season prematurely, that's great news.
In any case, it's a cool honor for Grant and Okafor and they should benefit from the ability to work alongside the concentration of talent contained within USA Basketball, even if it's just for a mini-camp. When the team reconvenes for preseason and training camp later this year, both players should have some additional wisdom to share with their young teammates.