In July of 2010, USA Basketball took a team of 12 talented teenagers to Germany for the inaugural U17 FIBA World Championship.
Led by Iowa City
coach Don Showalter, the United States rolled to an 8-0 record in the event en route to the gold medal, averaging 107.5 points per game while allowing 72.6.
Just two years later, five members of that squad are expected to figure prominently into Thursday night's NBA Draft at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
According to the latest mock draft by NBADraft.net
, 2010 gold medalists Bradley Beal (projected No. 3 to Wizards), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (No. 5, Kings), Andre Drummond (No. 7, Warriors), Marquis Teague (No. 18, Rockets) and Tony Wroten (No. 31, Bobcats) won't have to wait long to hear their respective names called.
"I think at the time in 2010, we looked at that group as being very talented," Showalter said by phone Tuesday. "But what made them special was that they were very unselfish and very concerned about doing what was good for the team."
To illustrate that point, Showalter pointed out that Kidd-Gilchrist, Teague and Wroten came off the bench for the United States in all eight games in Germany.
Beal, a 6-foot-4 guard coming off a one-and-done year at Florida, led the team in scoring at 18.3 points per game and was named MVP of the World Championship. Kidd-Gilchrist, who won a national title in his only season at Kentucky, posted 15 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as the team's sixth man.
Third on the team in scoring was North Carolina sophomore James Michael McAdoo, who is currently slotted at No. 5 in NBADraft.net's 2013 mock draft. A seventh player on that team, Adonis Thomas of Memphis, is also viewed as a potential lottery pick next summer.
Showalter's 2010 bunch also included Justin Anderson (headed to Virginia for freshman season), Quinn Cook (Duke sophomore), Johnny O'Bryant (LSU sophomore), Tony Parker (UCLA freshman) and Chasson Randle (Stanford sophomore).
A new crop of high school stars is headed to Lithuania for the second U17 FIBA World Championship, which gets underway later this week. Headlined by Jabari Parker
, Jahlil Okafor
and Tyus Jones
, several of the American gold medal hopefuls are on an accelerated path to the NBA, according to Showalter – once again heading the USA's entry.
"I think it's very comparable," Showalter said of the talent level on the 2012 squad vs. 2010. "Tyus Jones, no question in my mind that he will be a very good pro point guard. Jabari (Parker) is going to be in that mix. Stephen Domingo
at 6-7 can really shoot the ball well. I think he will be a pro player after several years in college."
Perhaps the most intriguing prospects are 6-10 twin towers Okafor and Dakari Johnson
, both rising juniors at Whitney Young (Chicago)
and Montverde Academy (Fla.)
"Those guys will be first round draft choices," Showalter said.
The United States begins play at the FIBA World Championship on Friday against Australia. The event runs through July 8.
Coverage of the NBA Draft begins Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. NBA TV will offer complete draft analysis at 5:30 p.m. and midnight.