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Arizona Basketball: Ashley likes his chance for USA team

2013-06-16T00:00:00Z 2013-06-17T02:39:29Z Arizona Basketball: Ashley likes his chance for USA teamBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A wide-eyed high school sophomore when he first experienced a USA Basketball training camp three years ago, Arizona Wildcats forward Brandon Ashley now qualifies as a veteran.

But that doesn't mean he has it any easier this weekend while trying out for USA's U19 World Championship team along with incoming UA freshmen Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

There's 26 players fighting for only 12 spots on the final team that will go to the U19 World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic, later this month.

And while Ashley, 18, is one of the oldest players in camp this time, 18 other participants have also played college basketball and the others are younger elite talents such as Gordon, Hollis-Jefferson and UA recruiting target Justise Winslow.

"Quite a few of us are from college but that being said you want to come out and look at everybody as an equal," Ashley said Saturday via telephone from Colorado Springs, Colo. "I feel like any player will say they have a good chance, but I feel my chances are pretty good of making the team."

Ashley said it was a "completely different experience" as a young player butting heads with guys such as Florida-bound Bradley Beal and Washington-bound Tony Wroten on a U17 team in 2010.

At only 17, Winslow is the young kid in camp this time, though he helped lead USA's U17 team to a gold medal last summer.

"It's been pretty good so far playing against the older guys," Winslow said. "They're stronger and faster and that's what I need. Just the speed of the game is a little faster."

While Winslow said he's learning from the older players, Ashley is learning a bit about the younger ones. Ashley has already played a season of travel ball with Gordon on the Oakland Soldiers but said it's been fun to play against Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson, while also getting to know Winslow and his game better.

"It's been real cool playing with the young dudes," Ashley said. "I've seen their games, but you can see more when you play with them. They play hard, they're smart players and they know what to do."

Ashley said he's also picked up some things from U19 head coach Billy Donovan, whom Ashley played against last season when the Wildcats beat Florida at McKale Center. Ashley said Donovan's up-tempo style at Florida is similar to UA coach Sean Miller's and should suit well a USA team that won't have as much time to bond on the court as many other countries' U19 teams do.

"Without a doubt," Ashley said. "It would definitely be hard for everybody to slow it down and run a lot of sets against teams who have been together longer than us. So to get out and run will be our best bet."

Ashley said he and Gordon have both played power forward and some small forward during the scrimmage-heavy workouts so far, but declined to say how the two might sort things out with the Wildcats next season. Gordon has been projected as a college power forward but said he also wants to play small forward.

"I don't want to say anything about our season, but when the season comes around we'll work on that," Ashley said.

Ashley, Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson might also be playing with a future Wildcat if Winslow chooses Arizona over Duke, UCLA and several other schools. Winslow made a repeat visit to Arizona last weekend but said he's still open in his recruiting and is unsure if he will take official visits in the fall or make a decision before then.

"I don't really think about it too much," Winslow said. "Arizona is a cool place but everyone's equal."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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