June 29, 2013
Colorado Springs, Colo.--- July 11 sure got interesting for Lobo fans. Alex Kirk will represent the United States as he was one of 12 players selected for the World University Games. The selections came Saturday morning after five days of training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Kirk is the second Lobo to make a national team and head to Russia, as Cameron Bairstow, his starting frontcourt mate will play for the Australian Boomers in Russia as well. The United States and Australia will face off in pool play on July 11 at 8:30 Mountain Time.
For Kirk, USA Training camp will continue in Colorado Springs through June 30, and the team departs for Russia on July 1.
"It's a huge honor to know that when we go out to Russia I'll have USA on my chest and play against the best foreign players at the collegiate level in the world," said Kirk. "I'm excited to get a shot at a gold medal."
Kirk, who will play in an intersquad scrimmage later on Saturday, has enjoyed the entire run at the Olympic Training Center. "It's an awesome experience and a lot of hard work, but we are putting in the time to have a great tour over there."
Kirk's passport will get pretty full over the next month, as in August he will accompany the Lobos to Australia for a foreign preseason tour.
Joining Kirk in representing the USA at the 2013 World University Games men's basketball competition that will be played July 7-16 in Kazan, Russia, will be: Spencer Dinwiddie(Colorado/Woodland Hills, Calif.); Yogi Ferrell (Indiana/Indianapolis, Ind.); Treveon Graham (Virginia Commonwealth/Temple Hills, Md.); Luke Hancock(Louisville/ Roanoke, Va.); Tyler Haws (BYU/Alpine, Utah); Cory Jefferson (Baylor/ Killeen, Texas); Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati/Yonkers, N.Y.); Alex Kirk (New Mexico/Los Alamos, N.M.); Doug McDermott(Creighton/Ames, Iowa); Adreian Payne (Michigan State/Dayton, Ohio); Will Sheehey (Indiana/Stuart, Fla.); and Aaron White (Iowa/Strongsville, Ohio).
Kirk and Kilpatrick will meet up on December 7 when Cincinnati visits The Pit. There were nearly three Lobos in the games, as Kendall Williams was invited to the initial tryouts but did not get selected.
His head coach Craig "Noodles" Neal, who famously rode his motorcycle several times to Los Alamos when the Lobos were recruiting the New Mexico native out of high school, was effusive in his praise of Kirk.
"This is a very exciting time for Lobo basketball with Alex's selection to Team USA! Alex is everything you want in a student-athlete. He has worked very hard to become the player he is today. We have always seen his potential to play at a very high level and Alex has proved it. I'm so happy for him and his family. Alex does everything in his life the right way all the time in everything he does as a young man. He is a huge credit to our program and just as important to the state of New Mexico!"
The honor completes a pretty exciting week for Lobo basketball as along with Kirk, Bairstow was officially announced to the Boomers on Tuesday, and Tony Snell was drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the No. 20 overall pick on Thursday.
"Clearly versatility, we have guys that can play more than one position, that's one of the great strengths we have," said USA head coach Bob McKillop (Davidson College). "I think we shoot the ball particularly well from a number of positions, and we've got guys who want to be teammates. Those two things, to me, are the biggest advantages that we have, or the biggest strengths for our team."
Assisting McKillop on the USA sideline are John Beilein of the University of Michigan and Frank Martin of the University of South Carolina.
McDermott is the only USA Basketball veteran on the team, and he was a member of the 2011 USA Basketball Men's U19 World Championship Team that finished in fifth place with a 7-2 record in the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia.
Eleven players took home end of the year conference honors, including McDermott, who was the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and an all-conference first-team selection. Additionally, Kirk listed on the Mountain West Conference All-Defensive team, Ferrell was named to the Big Ten Conference All-Freshman Team and Sheehey earned Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year.
Also taking home first-team recognition were Dinwiddie (Pac-12) and Haws (West Coast Conference). Named to all-conference second teams were: Graham (Atlantic-10 Conference), Kilpatrick (Big East), Kirk (Mountain West) and Payne (Big Ten). White earned All-Big Ten third team, and honorable mentions included Jefferson (Big 12) and Ferrell (Big Ten).
Additionally, Hancock earned 2013 Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
After departing on July 1, the USA will practice on July 3-6 in Kazan, Russia, including scrimmages on July 4 against Russian basketball club UNICS and on July 5 against the Russia World University Games Team before beginning World University Games play on July 7. The USA has drawn preliminary round Group C for the 2013 World University Games men's basketball competition, along with Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Sweden and United Arab Emirates. Playing in Group A are Estonia, Germany, Oman, Russia, Ukraine and South Korea. Playing in Group B are Japan, Mexico, Mongolia, Philippines, Romania and Serbia. Group D includes Brazil, Chile, China, Finland, Lithuania and Norway.
The USA will take on UAE at 6:30 p.m. (times listed are local; Kazan, Russia, is +8 hours from EDT) on July 7; followed by Czech Republic at 1 p.m. on July 8; and Sweden at 9 p.m. on July 10; Australia at 6:30 p.m. on July 11; and Canada at 1 p.m. on July 12.
As for that July 11 matchup with his teammate, Alex knows it's a long way to get to that game, but he is fully aware of it.
"That will be fun," he said of the potential showdown with his front court partner. "It will be a battle. We will see with the matchups how much we go against each other. He knows a lot of my tendencies, and he knows a lot of mine, so it should be a fun matchup."
Following the preliminary round, the first and second-placed teams in each of the four pools advance to the medal round, with the quarterfinals on July 14 to compete for first through eighth places. The remaining teams will play out for ninth to 24th places. The semifinals will be played on July 15, and the finals will be contested on July 16.
The players were selected by the 2013-16 USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team Committee. Chaired by Jim Boeheim (Syracuse University), the committee includes NCAA appointees McKillop, Matt Painter (Purdue University) and Lorenzo Romar (University of Washington), as well as athlete representative Curtis Sumpter, a member of the 2011 USA Pan American Games Team and the 2004 USA U20 National Team.