Basabe misses cut for Team USA

BY SETH ROBERTS | JUNE 20, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa forward Melsahn Basabe didn’t make the initial cut for the USA U19 World Championship team.

USA Basketball left Basabe off a list of 13 roster finalists it released on Sunday, after three days of tryouts for the team that will represent the country at the 2011 FIBA World Championship in Latvia.

The 6-7, 225-pound post was traveling back from Colorado Springs, Colo., on Sunday afternoon and wasn’t available for comment. He announced via Twitter that he would use being cut as motivation.

“Didn’t make the team … Back to my grind,” he tweeted on Sunday. “USA sent me home; now I’m hungry and on a mission even more.”

The list of finalists, which will be trimmed once more before the team leaves for Latvia on Friday, included nine players capable of playing in the paint. Team USA head coach Paul Hewitt said the frontcourt finalists’ skill sets and depth made it difficult to decide who to cut.

“I think our inside players are tremendous,” he said in a statement. “We have some good balance and some guys that can shoot the basketball. Obviously, it was a hard decision to come down to 13 [players], and we still have to make one more decision before we go overseas.”

Hewitt said he heavily emphasized defense when making the cuts, citing the team’s potential for stretches of inconsistent offense. Basabe was no defensive slouch for the Hawkeyes last year and averaged a team-best 1.32 blocks per game for the Hawkeyes last year, the seventh-best mark in the Big Ten.

Basabe would have been just the second Hawkeye to ever represent the United States at the U19 World Championship — current Iowa color commentator Bobby Hansen averaged 7.8 points in seven games for the 1979 gold medal team.

The native of Glen Cove, N.Y., will spend the rest of the summer participating in the Prime Time League. The third-round pick, who led the annual summer league in scoring last year, will join Hawkeye shooting guard Matt Gatens and incoming Iowa freshman Aaron White on the Falbo’s Pizza squad.

He will likely make his début on Tuesday against Iowa’s Zach McCabe and Darius Stokes. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. at the North Liberty Community Center.

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