Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant led charge in Team USA recruiting

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Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant led charge in Team USA recruiting originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

While many of the faces on the USA men’s basketball team that won gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games won’t be on this year’s roster, Damian Lillard has played a critical role in bringing some of the most prominent names in basketball to Tokyo.

According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Trail Blazers star helped fill out the USA men’s basketball roster that will compete this summer in the upcoming Olympics. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

"When we talk to players about committing to the team, one of the things they always want to know is who else is committed," USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told Windhorst. "Lillard was one of the first and it was crucial."

And the Trail Blazers star wasn’t alone in recruiting Team USA’s best. Windhorst says Kevin Durant also used his close relationships to recruit members.

Players like Draymond Green, Bradley Beal and Jerami Grant were some of the players that Lillard and Durant reportedly lobbied Gregg Popovich to add. 

Lillard will make his first Olympic appearance for USA Basketball. The 30-year-old was one of Team USA’s final cuts in 2014 before the FIBA World Cup. In 2016, Lillard suffered a foot injury and withdrew his name from consideration.