19 TO FIGHT FOR U20 SPOTS

19 players have been named in the initial Great Britain’s Under-20 men squad for the European Championships.

Headlining the preliminary roster for the Division A tournament, which will be held between 7-19 July in Italy, are returnees such as 2014 top scorer Luke Nelson and leading rebounder Kavell Bigby-Williams, who both helped propel the team to the high tide mark of an eleventh place finish last summer.

The roster – which will be eventually cut 12 – also includes a number of contenders who stood out last year at U18 level for the Home Nations and are now looking to shine in a GB Vest – players such as Jules Dang Akodo, who led England in points, assists and steals.

“We really feel that we have a great understanding of the players that are available for selection,” said head coach Doug Leichner, who will open training camp on June 18 before a three-game warm-up tournament from June 26-28 in Girona against Poland, Belgium and hosts Spain. “It is a long process and it gives all of these players opportunities.

“They may not know they are being evaluated, but with the internet, various media resources, watching in person, video and so forth, we have a great knowledge of the players and I’m confident that we have a really talented group.

“The players selected should realise it’s a year-long process – it’s not just how they did on a shooting drill.

“We have literally been evaluating for a year, so it’s given them all a great opportunity to make the team.

“The camp is always very intense. It’s competitive and it’s tough to even get invited and then once you are in there, you are fighting for one of the spots and it’s a very competitive situation.

“We are also going to go to Spain as part of our preparation and that will be a great opportunity for us.

“By that time, we should be very close to the final team.

“There may be a few spots left that are still left up for grabs, so it will be making sure we are ready to go and evaluating whether we have what it takes to win in the European Championship.”

Preliminary roster :

Kavell Bigby-Williams (Gilette College, USA)
Jules Dang Akodo (Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt, GER)
Ajou Deng (St Thomas More Oakdale, USA)
Pharroh Gordon (College of Saint Rose, USA)
Gregor Gray (Team Northumbria/Newcastle Eagles, GBR)
Tyrell Isaacs (London Greenhouse Pioneers, GBR)
Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye (Bristol Academy Flyers, GBR)
Ben Lawson (Western Kentucky University, USA)
Fraser Malcolm (FSU Selfoss Karfa, ISL)
Luke Mascall-Wright (Ipswich Tomcats, GBR)
Aaron Menzies (Seattle University, USA)
Josh McSwiggan (Loughborough/Leicester Riders, GBR)
Luke Nelson (University of California-Irvine, USA)
Sam Newman (Ipswich Tomcats, GBR)
Tamas Okros (Bristol Academy Flyers, GBR)
Nathan Smith (Medway Park Crusaders, GBR)
Morayo Soluade (Clinicas Rincon/Unicaja, ESP)
Deane Williams (Bristol Academy Flyers, GBR)
Jordan Williams (KBGO Duva Oostende, BEL)

Staff
Douglas Leichner – Head Coach
James Vear – Assistant Coach
Andreas Kapoulas – Performance Analyst/Assistant Coach

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