CBB Recruits with the Best Chance to Play for Team USA in Tokyo 2020
As USA Basketball tries to capture another men's basketball gold medal in Rio this week, it's never too early to start looking at some new blood that could join the team in Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Since many of the USA Basketball pieces have previously played for the national team as high school players, it's good to start looking at a group of high school players that has for the most part already competed with USA Basketball over the last few summers.
It's not out of the question for USA Basketball to take a player still fresh in his NBA career by the time the 2020 Olympics come around. In 2004, Team USA took young stars like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade to Athens right after their rookie seasons, while the 2012 team took Anthony Davis to London after he had just helped Kentucky win a national championship.
Here's a look at seven college basketball recruits from the class of 2017 and class of 2018 who could find themselves playing for USA Basketball in Tokyo. The list is ranked based on players who have the best chance of playing for gold with Team USA in four years.
7. Hamidou Diallo, Shooting Guard
Height and weight: 6'5"; 195 pounds
Why it could happen: Making a major move with his game this summer was Hamidou Diallo, an ultra-athletic shooting guard who gets it done on both ends of the floor. Recently helping the USA Basketball U18 win a gold at FIBA Americas, Diallo is the type of defender who can cover multiple positions on the floor and his play above the rim makes him dangerous as a rebounder from the backcourt. Diallo's dunking ability in traffic is also a major bonus.
Necessary improvements: Perimeter shooting is the final major step in Diallo's development as he struggles to hit three-pointers and free throws sometimes. Shooting only 20 percent from three-point range in Nike EYBL play this spring and summer, Diallo would become nearly unguardable if he got the jumper to start consistently falling. Becoming a secondary ball-handler who can handle out of the pick-and-roll wouldn't hurt Diallo's game either.
6. Trevon Duval, Point Guard
Height and Weight: 6'3"; 175 pounds
Why it could happen: Athleticism is always something USA Basketball is looking for, and it would get another freak if it opted to add Trevon Duval. A contortionist around the basket who can get in the paint at will, Duval has a tight handle and an ability to find teammates with the pass. A tenacious floor leader who loves stepping up in big games, Duval is the type of competitor at lead guard USA Basketball wouldn't mind having.
Necessary improvements: Limiting turnovers and honing the perimeter jumper are the next big steps for Duval as he tries to become a well-rounded guard. There are times when Duval tries to make the flashy, home run play, and it results in possession for the opposing team. Also, since Duval is such a blur with the ball, he can move too fast while going into his pull-up jumper, and it'll cause him to throw up some errant looks. If Duval learns to slow down his game and change paces, he could be deadly.
5. Wendell Carter, Center
Height and Weight: 6'10"; 258 pounds
Why it could happen: Already a two-time gold medalist with USA Basketball (2015 U16 FIBA Americas; 2016 U17 FIBA World Championships) Wendell Carter has been a cornerstone for his age group in the program the last two summers. An imposing post scorer who is also skilled enough to face up, Carter gets off the floor quickly for rebounds and can also defend his area in the post.
Necessary improvements: If Carter can improve his perimeter jumper then he'll be a tough cover in the front court because it would enable him to score from all over the floor. Since Carter isn't an elite athlete like some other big men in his class, improving those types of skills could be vital to him beating them for a potential future roster spot.
4. Marvin Bagley, Center
Height and Weight: 6'10"; 190 pounds
Why it could happen: The top player in the class of 2018, Marvin Bagley is the type of athletic and skilled big man who could challenge for the No. 1 spot in almost any class. Averaging 19.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game playing against older competition in the Nike EYBL, Bagley is already used to producing against older and more physical competition and some growth in his game could result in him getting a serious look.
Necessary improvements: Since Bagley is almost always the best player on his team, shot selection and issues with turnovers can arise during certain games. There are times when Bagley is too focused on scoring, and he'll float away from the basket and force some jumpers. If Bagley improves his three-point shooting percentage and learns how to quickly find the open pass out of double-teams then he could be a major problem for opposing defenses.
3. Mitchell Robinson, Center
Height and Weight: 7'0"; 200 pounds
Why it could happen: As the Nike EYBL's leader in blocked shots and total rebounds this spring and summer, no big man is more imposing on the defensive end in all of high school basketball than Mitchell Robinson. With ridiculous athleticism and an ability to cover a ton of ground as a big man, Robinson would fit the mold of American shot-blocking forces such as Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan.
Necessary improvements: Although he's a freak athlete with perhaps as much upside as anyone on this list, Robinson is still developing his skill level, and he doesn't have a go-to move as an offensive player besides scoring on easy buckets around the rim. If Robinson develops some post moves and improves his overall basketball IQ, he could be a force, especially on the defensive end.
2. Mohamed Bamba, Center
Height and Weight: 6'11"; 207 pounds
Why it could happen: With freakish measurables and great defensive ability, Mohamed Bamba can guard most positions on the floor and still recover fast enough to protect the rim or grab a rebound. With a wingspan around 7'9", Bamba can cause problems for opposing shooters while he's also quick enough to switch out onto wings and defend them for a few plays. Already a gold-medal winner with the USA U18 FIBA Americas team this summer, Bamba is starting to gain some international experience.
Necessary improvements: Adding strength will be a huge key for Bamba's development as he's very skinny to play against professional-caliber players right now. If Bamba can add weight and stop post players on his own, it would be huge for his development. Adding post moves and gaining more comfort on the offensive end is also important if Bamba wants to be a contributor on both ends of the floor.
1. Michael Porter Jr., Small Forward
Height and Weight: 6'9"; 210 pounds
Why it could happen: Already the country's most productive high school prospect, Michael Porter is a jumbo wing who makes scoring look easy while also being one of the best rebounders in the class. A smooth athlete who can score from all three levels, Porter was the leading scorer for the USA Basketball U18 team that took gold in FIBA Americas this summer. If there is one player with the best chance of playing in Tokyo for Team USA in four years, it's Porter.
Necessary improvements: The Washington commit has been unguardable for most of the summer, but he has been inconsistent from three-point range. If Porter starts knocking down triples at a consistent clip, he becomes impossible to contain off the bounce. Gaining more strength to be able to take contact at the rim will also be important for Porter as more teams will try to play physical against him as he progresses.
Recruiting ratings via 247Sports.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and information were obtained firsthand.