USA Basketball announced a list of 28 invitees to the 2017 U19 World Cup Team Training Camp on Thursday, and Marquette’s Markus Howard was not on the list. As you may have heard during the 2016-17 season, Howard did not turn 18 until March 2017, so he is clearly age eligible for a tournament open to anyone up to those players who are turning 19 during the 2017 calendar year.
Howard averaged a team high 13.2 points as a freshman, along with 2.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He was also the most accurate three-point shooter in the country amongst those with enough attempts to qualify for the list, shooting 54.7% from long range. Perhaps more importantly to the process here, Howard won gold medals with USA Basketball in each of the past two summers, as the U16 team won the 2015 FIBA Americas tournament to qualify the United States for the FIBA U17 World Cup last summer, which they also won. Howard averaged 11.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists while playing 21 minutes per game and shooting 48.6% from behind the arc in the U17 World Cup, so you can see how he could be a viable component of another USA Basketball squad.
While John Calipari is the head coach for this U19 squad, it’s not like the Kentucky head coach is stacking the deck with recruits for the fall of 2018. You wouldn’t blame him for doing so, as is his right (along with Purdue coach Matt Painter, who led the selection committee), but 13 of the 28 players just finished their freshman years of college. They’re clearly willing to take college players, Howard just isn’t one of them.
It’s all possible that this is just a matter of preference by Howard. As mentioned above, he spent large chunks of the last two summers preparing for and playing in a FIBA tournament. You can’t fault the guy for just opting out this time around. It’s also possible that there may be a Marquette component to this. Tori McCoy recently transferred into the MU women’s basketball program, and shortly after making that decision, she withdrew from the women’s U19 World Cup tryout camp. You’d think that it wouldn’t be that important for McCoy to be on MU’s campus this summer as she has a full redshirt year of work ahead of her, but that appears to be the way that one is playing out.
Anyway, best of luck to both the men’s and women’s U19 squads as they look to bring home gold in their respective tournaments.