Apple Valley HS point guard Tyus Jones (2014) won Gold at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship (Photo: Steven Maikoski)
Minnesota Pump N Run U15 teammates Henry Ellenson, a 6'9", 250 pound sophomore from Rice Lake, Wis. and Amir Coffey, a 6'3", 160 pound freshman at Hopkins high school, were both invited to the 2012 USA Basketball Men’s Developmental National Team mini-camp on Oct. 6-7 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Ellenson has already attracted interest and offers from high majors across the country, including an offer from the Minnesota Golden Gophers. His oldest brother Wally is a 6'4" freshman guard at the U who possesses tremendous hops and overall athleticism. Henry is much bigger, but capable of playing inside or out. The upside for the high school sophomore is huge and this opportunity will surely help his progression.
Many Gopher fans remember Richard Coffey (Minnesota, 1990) as "the Paratrooper", a hard-working military man who was ready to fight for a rebound against anyone. An undersized forward, Coffey's toughness and fundamentals made him one of the better rebounders the school has ever seen. His son Amir is long and lean, but far more heavy on the skills than his father. Like Ellenson, Coffey is an exceptional talent with the ability to be great.
Forty-six invitees plan to make the trip to Colorado, including 34 players born on or after January 1, 1997 who are therefore eligible for the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship (if USA qualifies). The 12 older players will train for future events such as the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and the Nike Hoop Summit.
Twenty-five states are represented, including five players apiece from California and New Jersey; four from Illinois; three from Maryland and Tennessee; and two from Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina and Wisconsin. In addition to Ellenson, the state of Wisconsin will send Diamond Stone, a 6'10", 252 pound sophomore from Milwaukee-area Dominican high school.
The rosters for the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship won't be finalized until next summer, but the rosters for the first two U16 FIBA Americas Championship events, held every two years, have been nothing short of impressive. The USA roster for the inagural championship in 2009 included 2012 NBA draft lottery picks Brad Beal and Andre Drummond and the 2011 team featured Chicago stars Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor and Kendrick Nunn as well as Apple Valley, Minnesota's own Tyus Jones.
To be selected by the USA Basketball Men's Developmental National Team Committee is a great honor and while the weekend provides the USA Basketball coaches an opportunity to evaluate players, the athletes benefit from skill development and the opportunity to play with and against other top talent. I'll be at the U.S. Olympic Training Center for the four sessions being held this weekend and look forward to seeing not only the Midwest kids, but the talent from across the nation.
The roster for this weekend's mini-camp is listed below. For additional information about USA Basketball, you can visit www.usabasketball.com
-- J.B. Bauer