clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine make USA Basketball Select Team

New, 4 comments

Two former Spartans will get to practice against what probably will be the best basketball team in the world when the Rio Olympics tip off.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Two former Michigan State Spartans will be part of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's Select Team, which was announced on Tuesday.

The 15-man list includes former Spartan and current Denver Nuggets guard Gary Harris. Also making the team is guard Denzel Valentine, who just wrapped up a memorable college hoops career in East Lansing. This squad will be helping train the USA Olympic Team from July 18-21.

Last summer, Valentine was with the USA team in the Pan-Am Games, but now is taking a big step up in competition as he'll practice against many of the world's best players, despite having yet to even play in a pro game while waiting to hear his name called in the 2016 NBA Draft.

This past season, Valentine was a consensus first-team All-American as a senior and won the Big Ten Player of the Year award. He also became the only player in NCAA history to average more than 19 points (19.2), seven rebounds (7.5) and seven assists (7.8) per game since the assist became an official statistic in 1983-84.

As for Harris, he enjoyed a breakthrough 2015-16 season while improving in nearly every area from his rookie campaign, where the former Spartans guard only saw the court when the game was out of hand. This past season, the 21-year-old Harris started in all 76 of the games he appeared in while averaging 12.3 points and shooting 35.4 percent from three-point range in 32.1 minutes per game.

"Being a part of the USA Select Men’s Team is a great opportunity for both Denzel and Gary," Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. "I’ve said that one of the greatest honors this game has given me is the pleasure to represent my country. Both Denzel and Gary have experienced that as well as a part of previous USA Basketball teams. But the chance to train with some of the best young talent in the game, as well as the U.S. Olympic Team, is a unique opportunity that will only serve to benefit them in the early stages of their careers."

Players who are named to the select team scrimmage against the national team to help prepare them for the Olympics and other international basketball events. While Harris and Valentine don’t play international competition,  the experience they gain playing against the NBA’s best is well worth the trip.

"The 2016 USA Basketball Select Team continues to our tradition of featuring some of the game's brightest and most promising young players. Participation in this camp provides them with valuable experience at the USA Basketball National Team level, while helping prepare the 2016 USA National Team for its upcoming international competition," Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball’s national team managing director, said in a statement.

This also means Harris and Valentine will likely face Warriors forward Draymond Green, who is currently scheduled to be one of 31 players competing for a spot on the USA Basketball Men's Team. For now, Green is just trying to help Golden State beat Cleveland and win a second-straight NBA Finals.