It’s great to see that Deron Williams was selected to Team USA this past week. Leading up to the Monday announcement of the final 12-man team, there was a nice logjam at the point guard spot, with Chauncey Billups, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Williams all vying for a spot on the squad. Luckily for Williams, the team includes three PGs, with Kidd and Paul in the mix as well.
Williams is coming off his best NBA season to date, averaging nearly 20 points and 10 assists per game. He was selected to the All-NBA second team, although ironically was not selected to the All-Star game. He will be the first ever ex-Illini basketball player to represent the USA in men’s basketball at the Olympics.
Williams, though, isn’t the only ex-Illini basketball player involved with the team. Former Illinois alum Jerry Colangelo is the national director of the USA basketball senior men’s team. He was appointed shortly after the 2004 Olympics to take command of the program and put together teams that could bring the gold medal back to the U.S. after failing to do so in the ‘04 Olympics and the ‘02 World Championships.
Colangelo quickly called up Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski to be the new team’s coach in ‘04, and was in charge of selecting players for tryouts before the ‘06 World Championships in Japan. The team came up one game short in Japan, losing in the semifinals and finishing in third place.
This time around, Colangelo has done away with any tryouts and has personally hand picked the twelve man team himself. It should be very interesting to see how Williams and the team fare on the court in Beijing, especially knowing that there’s an Illini on the court and an Illini who has personally put together the entire team that will represent the country.
With Colangelo’s practical Czar-like status as head man of Team USA, he now has a golden opportunity to show himself to be the savior of the national program, although it’ll be a tough go in this day and age of international basketball. Still, it should be a great opportunity for Williams to show off his talent on the world stage, and for Colangelo to take credit for putting a winning team.
If they win.
We’ll just have to watch and see.