Ryan Richards could be capable of winning a place in the Great Britain team for EuroBasket, claims assistant coach Tim Lewis.
The San Antonio Spurs draftee shone in the recent European Under-20 Championships in Sarajevo, despite GB’s failure to reach the medal stages.
His performances came after almost a season on the sidelines following shoulder surgery which prevented him from either returning to Gran Canaria or pursuing a call-up to the NBA.
It was enough to earn him a summons to the senior training camp in Surrey, along with junior team-mates Devon van Oostrum and Alex Marcutullio. And Lewis, who coached the trio in Bosnia, feels they cannot be discounted.
“Ryan, in terms of his physicality, has come on a huge amount in the past year and he now knows what he needs to do to succeed at the highest level,” said Lewis. “Him and Devon are not going to back down at that level.
“Alex has been playing at a high level in college but it’s a big step from the Under 20s to senior level. But it will put some pressure on the other guys when you have young players who will feature over the next ten years. And it’s an excellent opportunity for them to grow and learn.”
Lewis has come in for criticism from observers who felt his side were under-prepared for the Under-20 Championships, falling short of expectations in ending up 13th.
With most of his players based in the USA, the Essex coach acknowledges that GB starts at a disadvantage. Yet he is confident that the build-up was adequate.
“The level of competition was really high. I’m disappointed we finished 13th,” he said. “Is it a true reflection? No. Did the system count against us? Yes. I think we were in the top 4-6 teams there.
“It is frustrating but overall I think it was a successful summer. We’ve gone 14-2 over the last two years in competition. And you have to take into account that while we want to win games, there’s also a big part of the programme that is finding kids who can step up to the GB team.”
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