USA Basketball officially announced the 29 players who will take part in the tryout for the World University Games team to play next month in Russia. Among those on the list was UC senior Sean Kilpatrick.
The WUGs take place every two years and Yancy Gates took part in the tryout in 2011, but didn't make the team that eventually went 7-1 despite finishing fifth in China.
Cutting the impressive tryout list down to 12 players won't be easy for Jim Boehiem and his staff who oversee the construction of the team. Kilpatrick's Twitter feed exploded with excitement as he found out last week of his inclusion in the June 24-30 training camp at USOC headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.
As all the different variable were weighed two months ago when Kilpatrick made his decision to return to UC, the opportunity to take part in USA basketball was one of the perks pushing him toward Clifton.
"With you coming back to school you'd be able to do a lot of things, especially with this program," Kilpatrick said of the camp, whose only criteria are the invitees be returning collegiate players. "Doing things that a lot of great players haven't done when they came to this school and being able to actually get my degree. That was really an amazing experience but as soon as he mentioned the USA thing I was really excited for it knowing that if I decided to leave I would never have a chance to go through the process with it. Staying, it really played a huge part."
As for his chances of making the team, he'll be competing with a crew of talented shooting guards for likely three or four spots. There are a few combo guards, but here's the list of shooting guards joining him at the tryout.
Player, team: Points, assists, 3-point percentage
Sean Kilpatrick, UC, 17.0 points, 1.9 assists, 30.7%
Eric Atkins, Notre Dame: 11.2 points, 5.2 assists, 41.5%
Markel Brown, Okla. St.: 15.2 points, 2.4 assists, 36.4%
Deonte Burton, Nevada: 16.3 points, 3.6 assists, 30.1%
Quinn Cook, Duke: 11.7 points, 5.3 assists, 39.3%
Bryce Cotton, Providence: 19.7 points, 2.9 assists, 36.4%
Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado: 15.3 points, 3.0 assists, 33.8%
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana: 7.6 points, 4.1 assists, 30%
Treveon Graham, VCU: 15.1 points, 1.6 assists, 36.6%
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: 13.3 points, 5.5 assists, 34.4%
P.J. Hairston, UNC: 14.6 points, 1.4 assists, 39.6%
Luke Hancock, Louisville: 8.1 points, 1.4 assists, 39.9%
Joe Harris, Virginia: 16.3, points, 2.2 assists, 42.5%
Tyler Haws, BYU: 21.7 points, 2.0 assists, 38.1%
Andre Hollins, Minnesota: 14.6 points, 3.4 assists, 41.8%
Rodney Hood, Duke: 10.2 points, 2.0 assists, 36.4% (2011 Miss. St.)
Chasson Randle, Stanford: 13.6 points, 2.6 assists, 35.9%
Kendall Williams, New Mexico: 13.3 points, 5.9 assists, 34.8%
There's only two guards on the list who scored more points per game than Kilpatrick did last season. Only Tyler Haws of BYU and Bryce Cotton of Providence filled it up more. Neither of their teams qualified for the NCAA tournament. The one stat Kilpatrick will need to show he's improved on will be his 3-point percentage, but though that number dipped from his previous two seasons where it sat at 37.6 percent.
Whenever I go against the best competition I play the best, for some reason," Kilpatrick said. "It will be great because you are playing against 30 of the top players in the country. You don't get a chance to do that on a regular basis when you are working out with your team and traveling back and forth to see your family. If I am able to do that for a whole week I can't imagine what's going to happen when I come here."
Beyond excitement, honor and prestige, inclusion in the camp places Kilpatrick into a summer regiment unparalleled during his basketball career. Most days he spends working out, whether on a stationary bike or basketball court, to prepare for the mile-high conditions in Colorado as well as the elite competition.
He knows to expect exhaustion thanks to words with Gates about his experience in the camp two years ago. Kilpatrick immediately picked the brain of his former teammate upon finding out he'd be participating.
"He said it's a lot of conditioning and a lot of running. With the stuff that I am doing now hopefully it will carry over with the USA thing," he said.
He's utilizing the typical in-season routine for his offseason regimen this year and gaining a jump on his game shape. The type of workouts he's putting himself through normally belong in the preseason training season, but now he's established a head start on those.
But for a player who was mildly recruited out of New York and earned his position off a redshirt season at UC, this invite means more than extra preparation for his senior year. Strapping on the USA uniform signifies a larger accomplishment.
"It's actually been amazing due to the fact I've worked all my life for a situation like this," Kilpatrick said. "'I'm just happy to be in that situation. A lot of guys don't really go there and tryout. Only like 30 guys going, 30 guys out of how many collegiate players? That's really a big deal."
How big could it be for Kilpatrick? Taking a look at the historical spike in production from the players who participated in the University Games for USA exposes an undeniable change. Few will reproduce the move made by Kenyon Martin after participated following his junior season. He evolved into the National Player of the Year and overall No. 1 draft pick.
Those types of improvement are more the exception than the rule. Looking at the 2011 group of USA players Draymond Green added 3.6 points and 2.0 rebounds per game, but nearly across the board players enjoyed similar statistics before and after the USA experience. As much as increased competition and exposure to a higher level of play can improve his game, most of the ascension toward his goal of the NBA comes in the preparation hours spent in the bowels of Fifth Third Arena practice facilities.
"The most important thing I need help on is my left hand. Every day I have just been in the gym working on that left hand and really sitting here trying to do quicker moves to get my shot off a lot faster because I know the type of defenses I'm going to have face this year," he said. "I just really want to help this team win. Continue to keep doing what I've been doing the last four years I've been here. That's just trying to be a leader."
Being a leader means more than yelling at freshmen and speaking to the media. It means thinking about more than his own personal agenda when enjoying opportunities such as the one in Colorado. It's a concept Kilpatrick takes to heart.
"It's important due to the fact I know I got this university depending on me," he said. "Going out there and actually representing my university, that's something that plays a huge part in it."
EXTRAS FROM SK:
On his reaction to the honor:
It's actually been amazing due to the fact I've worked all my life for a situation like this. Being able to really sit down with coach and talk about it and now he's been working since the summer started to make these camps and make this USA team, it's been a real good experience.
On what he has been doing to prepare:
This. Just really working out. Coach, he's been telling me to stay in game shape and be able to stay in that shape where I don't get tired. if it comes down to me at least pedaling on that bike for 40 minutes a day then that's what I'm going to have to do to make this team.
On asking Yancy about the experience:
I asked him already. He said for first two days it's going to be hard due to the fact it's hard to breathe out there. And actually he said it's a lot of conditioning and a lot of running. With the stuff that I am doing now hopefully it will carry over with the USA thing.
On if he's ever been involved in anything like this, even on younger level:
This is actually my first time doing this. I thought actually it was going to be a camp until coach said the guys will be playing in Russia. I thought, Russia? Only time we've been out of the United States was Canada and you can't really count that, so, it's actually pretty good. I'm really excited for it.
On feedback he received when he decided he wasn't going to the NBA:
I spoke to coach about everything, he said really the most important thing I need help on is my left hand. Every day I have just been in the gym working on that left hand and really sitting here trying to do quicker moves to get my shot off a lot faster because I know the type of defenses I'm going to have face this year. I just really want to help this team win. Continue to keep doing what I've been doing the last four years I've been here. That's just trying to be a leader.
On this being a different team this year and what he's seen from the new players:
I say this every year to the guys that's coming in, especially because we know this is a new process for them. If you aren't going to come with your hard hat I don't know what to say to you. Not only are you going to hear it from me but you are really going to hear it from coach Cronin. He expects nothing but to give your best effort and go out there and play hard. The younger guys really have a sense of it.
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