Carsen Edwards was asked when he last had to try out for anything related to basketball.
"I don’t know," the Purdue sophomore said, over the phone from Colorado Springs, "maybe like high school basketball."
Then, when prompted, he conceded that probably wasn't all that much of a try-out, per se.
"It's been a while since I've actually had to try out for something," Edwards said.
Currently, he's on hiatus from Purdue's World University Games practices, vying for another international-competition opportunity, trying out for USA Basketball's 19-and-Under World Championships team.
Tuesday, he was named one of 18 finalists for the team, as the group of hopefuls in Colorado was trimmed from 27.
"I don't know if it's changed me," Edwards said of the try-out environment, "but I know I'm learning a lot here, learning new things about the game, and being able to compete against the best players in the country is always fun. I'm enjoying it."
The USA Basketball opportunity has also given Purdue's promising young guard a chance to break the monotony of practicing against the same players — his teammates — all summer, as well as the obvious chance to practice against a particularly high level of competition.
Among the other guards still vying for a spot on Kentucky coach John Calipari's roster: Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo (who nearly entered the NBA draft) and Oregon's Payton Pritchard (fresh off the Final Four), as well as high school wunderkind guards Romeo Langford and Cameron Reddish.
"I'm matching up against a lot of guards, it's no one person," Edwards said. "We play four or five times a day and things like that.
"Everybody here is good and I go against everybody a lot."
By various accounts, Edwards has stacked up well.
"I believe I am," he said. "We'll just see."
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Calipari and his Team USA staff has Edwards slotted at point guard, the position Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn speculated that Edwards might start at for the U.S. should he continue to play as he did during the opening days of training camp.
Last season, as a freshman at Purdue, Edwards played some point mid-season when Spike Albrecht was hurt, but spent the majority of his season playing on the wing, as Matt Painter wanted him in as many positions to score as possible.
"It's fun, but playing the point there's things I have to learn," Edwards said, "playing it with different people, things like that, learning to play with others."It's expected that USA Basketball's final 12-man 19U roster will be determined sometime around Thursday. That team will then compete at the World Championships in Cairo July 1-9.
That would make for an exhausting summer for Edwards, who'd then play in the World University Games in Taipei in August, but if that can be considered a problem, then it would be a good problem to have.
"It's been important ever since I got here to make the team, but regardless of the outcome, it's a blessing to be here, to have this opportunity," Edwards said. "I'm just giving it all I have, controlling what I can control and whatever happens, happens."
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