2020 NBA Draft prospect Josh Green has been named to a preliminary 23-man Australian Emus squad in preparation for the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup.
Having qualified for the Under-19 World Cup after an unbeaten run at the FIBA Under-18 Asian Championships last year, the Emus will be aiming to return to the medal dais in Heraklion, Greece in July for the first time since winning gold in 2003 after finishing fourth in both 2009 and 2013.
The entire squad of 12 that won Asian gold in 2018 have been selected, and will be joined by last year's Under-17 World Cup stars who finished fifth, with Luke Travers, Hunter Clarke, Kobe Williamson, Josh Bannan and Wani Swaka Lo Buluk also included. However the biggest addition is Arizona-bound Josh Green who has been starring for IMG Academy in US High School and is currently ranked seventh best for the class of 2019 in ESPN's Top 100.
There is also an air of the NBA surrounding this squad, with former NBA and Australian Boomers player Chris Anstey named as an assistant coach, while Sean Bairstow, the younger brother of former NBA player and current NBL star Cameron, also incuded. Bairstow follows in his older brother's footsteps, with the former New Mexico standout having represented the Emus at Under-19 level at the 2009 FIBA Oceania Championships before going on to represent the boomers at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Emus head coach Darren Perry explained in a statement that he was excited by the versatile squad that is set to be assembled at the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence held from 8-11 March.
“This squad’s biggest strength is that we have so many guys who can play in multiple positions,” said Emus coach Darren Perry.
“Previous performances for Australia can certainly help in players’ confidence levels but we have 23 guys coming into the camp that will all vie for a selection spot. However, some of the guys will not be able to attend the camp due to commitments in the USA."
While Green is one of those players likely to have US commitments and therefore miss the camp, it is possible that those attending US college, including a trio of Queensland freshmen in Sam Froling (Creighton), Kody Stattmann (Virginia) and Aiden Krause (UC Irvine), will also be in the same position.
In the statement released by Basketball Australia, it noted that further additions to the squad may occur following the Australian Under-20 Championships commencing next week. While Perry remained open to further inclusions, he noted that the squad selected took into account the opponents that they may encounter in Greece.
“We have done extensive reviews of every team that has qualified for the World Championships so we know what we will be up against. This camp will help identify the 12 athletes who will make the commitment on defence, buy into the system and have the belief that we can challenge for a gold medal at the World Cup.”
Australia last took home gold at Under-19 level back in 2003 behind a tournament MVP performance from Andrew Bogut, while combined with a silver won in 1995 the only two times the Emus have medaled at the event. When the tournament was last held in 2017, Australia was a notable absentee, with New Zealand qualifying ahead of their trans-Tasman rivals that year. In returning to the event for the first time since a seventh-placed finish in 2015, also in Greece, Perry was not lost on what it means to represent the green and gold on the international stage.
“The opportunity to represent your country does not come every day and it is the same for the coaches as it is for the players,” added Perry. “From a coaching point of view, it is an honour to represent and it’s a great responsibility to help this team compete on the international stage.”
Australian Emus Squad
Tre ARMSTRONG / Tasmania Joshua BANNAN / Victoria Sean BAIRSTOW / Queensland Kyle BOWEN / Western Australia Hunter CLARKE / Tasmania Callum DALTON / Queensland Alex DUCAS / Western Australia Hunter GOODRICK / New South Wales Sam FROLING / Queensland Aiden KRAUSE / Queensland Joshua GATBEL KUNEN / Victoria Joshua GREEN / New South Wales Oliver HAYES-BROWN / Victoria Keli LEAUPEPE / Victoria Isaiah LEE / New South Wales Sean MACDONALD / Victoria Tyler ROBERTSON / Victoria Kody STATTMANN / Queensland Wani Swaka LO BULUK / Western Australia Wil TATTERSALL / Victoria Luke TRAVERS / Western Australia Tamuri WIGNESS / Queensland Kobe WILLIAMSON / Victoria
Head Coach: Darren PERRY Coach: Robbie MCKINLAY Coach: Chris ANSTEY Team Manager: Chris OHLBACK Doctor: Greg MACLEOD Physiotherapist: Ryan CARROLL