COLORADO SPRINGS – New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, whose rise from obscurity to NBA stardom captured the world’s attention, was among 13 young players named on Monday to the USA Select team.
NBA 2012 Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving of Cleveland was also among those selected by USA Basketball for the squad that will serve as training opponents for the US Olympic team of NBA stars that will compete in the London Olympics.
The Selects will play training games against the American squad at the Olympic training camp July 6-12 at Las Vegas, Nevada.
But in addition to producing top efforts from this year’s collection of NBA Olympians, Lin and his teammates are taking their first steps toward the 2014 US world title defense and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
“The Select team has an excellent collection of talent,” said USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo.
“The group has outstanding speed and versatility, some excellent shooters and some very good size.
“It will be great to have them involved in USA Basketball and in the national team pipeline for our next quadrennium.”
Lin, an Asian-American whose parents are from Taiwan, had been cut by two NBA clubs and was on the Knicks’ bench when injuries to two starters forced the former Harvard University player into the lineup.
Lin made the most of his opportunity, averaging nearly 24 points and nine assists in 10 games and leading the Knicks on a seven-game win streak while touching off “Lin-sanity” among long-suffering Knicks’ supporters.
Curiously, Lin has a standing invitation to player for the Chinese Taipei national men’s basketball team.
Joining Lin and Irving on the USA Select squad were Orlando’s Ryan Anderson, San Antonio’s DeJuan Blair and Kawhi Leonard, Washington’s John Wall, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, Indiana’s Paul George, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, Chicago’s Taj Gibson, Utah’s Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors and Golden State’s Klay Thompson.
Syracuse University 15-year assistant coach Mike Hopkins and 2010 USA world championship assistant coach Jay Triano, a former Toronto Raptors coach, will coach the Selects.
Past select squads have included reigning NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant, 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose and All-Stars Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook. All are US Olympic finalists for London, although a knee injury has ended Rose’s hopes for 2012.
A final 12-man US Olympic roster will be selected by July 7 after the start of training camp workouts. Other candidates include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant.