The national team came calling for Juneau's Carlos Boozer Jr. on Monday.
Boozer, who just finished his freshman year as Duke University's starting center, is one of three Blue Devils and 30 players total invited to tryouts for the 2000 USA Basketball Young Men's National Team Trials, for basketball players under 20 years old. The trials will take place May 26-28 in Colorado Springs, Colo., where the U.S. Olympic Training Center is located.
If Boozer makes the team, it's off to sunny Riberao Preto, Brazil (near Sao Paulo), for the 2000 COPABA World Championship for Young Men Qualifying Tournament on July 19-23. At that tournament, eight teams from the Americas try to earn one of the three Americas Zone qualifying berths for the 2001 FIBA World Championship for Young Men in Japan. The U.S. team will be coached by Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim.
``He's real fired up, he's interested in playing for the national team,'' Boozer's father, Carlos Boozer Sr., said Monday (Carlos Jr. couldn't be reached at Duke, where he is preparing for summer school classes). ``He's been working out and will probably go to the trials right from Duke. We hope he makes it.''
Boozer, who graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1999, is a 6-foot-9, 260-pound center-forward for the Blue Devils, who finished the regular season as the top-ranked team in the NCAA Division I polls. Boozer averaged 13.0 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds a game during the season for Duke, earning first-team Atlantic Coast Conference all-freshman team honors and honorable mention all-ACC. Boozer also led the Blue Devils, who reached the Sweet 16, with a .614 field goal percentage.
If Boozer makes the team he will be the second Alaskan to represent the United States in men's international basketball competition. Former East Anchorage High School and Duke guard Trajan Langdon, currently a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, played in the same tournament in 1994.
Another former Alaskan, Andrea Lloyd of Sitka, played for the U.S. women's team in the 1988 Olympics, winning a gold medal, and was an alternate for the 1992 Olympics.
But to make the team, Boozer will have to beat out a veritable Who's
Who of the nation's top young basketball players for a spot on the 12-player roster.
Boozer's college roommate, freshman Duke point guard Jason Williams, is trying out for the team, as is freshman teammate Mike Dunleavy Jr., who was Duke's sixth man this season and can play both guard and forward. Other top players on the list include Kansas freshmen forward-centers Nick Collison and Drew Gooden, who was the MVP of the Great Alaska Shootout last November. Other post players on the list are 7-0 freshman Steve Hunter of DePaul and 6-10 freshman Brian Cook of Illinois.
Boozer is the third-youngest player on the list of tryout invitees, but he's also the heaviest by more than 20 pounds.
Of the 30 athletes invited to the tryouts, 15 have played for USA Basketball teams in the past. Nine of the players just finished their sophomore seasons at NCAA Division I schools, 16 were NCAA freshmen, one finished his second season at the junior college level, one attended a prep school and three just completed their senior years in high school. Of the 25 players for NCAA Division I teams, 14 were honored by their conference all-freshmen teams, five were selected to their conference all-tournament teams and four were listed among the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's 2000 all-district teams.
Former players include current NBA stars Grant Hill of Detroit Pistons, Stephan Marbury of the New Jersey Nets and Shareef Abdur-Rahim of the Vancouver Grizzlies.