COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Alabama men’s basketball rising sophomore Kira Lewis Jr. has been named to the 12-man 2019 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup Team roster, which was announced Thursday morning. Lewis and Team USA will continue training in Colorado Springs through June 23 then travel to Heraklion, Crete, Greece, for the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup that will be played June 29-July 7.
“First I would like to thank God because without him none of this is possible,” Lewis said. “I am very thankful to USA basketball for giving me this opportunity to represent my country, the state of Alabama and all of Bama Nation! This is a dream come true to wear the USA across my chest. I would also like to thank all of the fans for supporting me and would especially like to thank my family, my friends and the coaches who have helped me achieve this goal. You guys all played a big part in this! Roll Tide!”
Sixteen teams will compete for the U19 World title and they have been divided into four groups for preliminary, round-robin games. The USA was drawn into Group A and will open preliminary play against New Zealand on June 29 before facing Lithuania on June 30 and Senegal on July 2.
Following the preliminary round, all teams will advance to the round of 16 on July 3. The winners of the round of 16 will advance to the medal quarterfinals on July 5, and the losers will play out for ninth-16th places. The semifinals will be played on July 6, and the gold and bronze medal games on July 7.
“It’s been a very, very difficult selection process the last couple of days. One to cut the roster down to 18, and then to get it 12,” said USA and Kansas State University head coach Bruce Weber. “We had a really talented group of players, there were a lot of guys who could be part of this team. I think the thing we have is experience. We have guys who played major college basketball in tough environments, and then we also have another group that has played for USA Basketball at different levels and won gold medals.
“When you think about playing international basketball it’s about toughness, it’s about experience, IQ, and I think that all adds up to why we chose this roster and, hopefully, moving forward it gives us the best opportunity to win the gold.”
Assisting USA head coach Weber with the U19 World Cup team are assistant coaches Mike Hopkins (Washington) and LeVelle Moton (North Carolina Central).
In addition to Lewis, the other finalists were: Scottie Barnes (University School/West Palm Beach, Fla.), Cade Cunningham (Montverde Academy, Fla./Arlington, Texas), Jalen Green (Prolific Prep/Fresno, Calif.), Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State/Oshkosh, Wis.), Isaac Likekele (Oklahoma State/Arlington, Texas), Evan Mobley (Rancho Christian School/Temecula, Calif.), Reggie Perry (Mississippi State/Thomasville, Ga.), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (IMG Academy, Fla./Overland Park, Kan.), Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.), Trevion Williams (Purdue/Chicago, Ill.) and Ziaire Williams (Notre Dame H.S./Sherman Oaks, Calif.).
During his freshman season, Lewis earned a spot on the 2019 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team despite being the youngest active Division I men’s basketball player in the country. The Meridianville, Ala., native led the Tide on the offensive side of the ball, topping the team with 13.5 points, 2.9 assists and 31.6 minutes per contest. He also led UA in free throw percentage (90-of-115, .783), double-figure scoring games (24) and 20-point games (5) for the season.