The USA Basketball U19 team is off to a good start behind a strong showing by Austin Wiley.
The Auburn sophomore center scored 15 points in an 89-66 victory over Lithuania in a friendly on Wednesday in Cairo, Egypt.
“I thought Austin was terrific,” said Team USA head coach John Calipari.
The United States will meet medal favorite France in a friendly Thursday and practice on Friday prior to the FIBA U19 World Cup preliminary round opener vs. Iran on Saturday at 10:30 am CT in the Cairo Stadium Indoor Hall 1.
“It is very exciting. It was a great experience last year and to do it again this year is a blessing,” said Wiley of going for another gold medal. “I can’t wait. It’s going to help me because I’m playing against pro level players so it’s going to get me better.”
USA faces Angola on Sunday at 11:15 am CT before its final group play game against Italy on July 4 at 9:30 am CT. Following the preliminary round, all 16 teams will be seeded according to group play results and will advance to the July 5 round of 16. Winners will advance to the July 7 medal quarterfinals, while the remaining teams will continue playing out for classification.
The medal semifinals will be held July 8, and the gold and bronze medal games on July 9.
“We are athletic, very active, very disruptive, very aggressive and very tall. We are going to be fun to watch,” said Wiley. “I will play as many minutes as Coach Cal wants me to. He said I would play 20-25 minutes a game, so I will come in and play my role, rebound, play defense and score inside.”
Wiley will be vying for his second-straight gold in as many summers as he was averaged 8.0 points and a team second-best 6.4 rebounds for Team USA’s gold medal winner at the FIBA Men’s U17 World Championship in Zaragoza, Spain in 2016.
“It is a great experience for Austin,” said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl. “He continues a family tradition with his mom being an Olympian and him going for a second gold medal. He is in USA Basketball’s program, and I know it means an awful lot to him. We are proud of him.
“I look at this world championship that this is this year’s Olympics for men’s basketball. We have another Olympian like Chuck Person and Charles Barkley.”
The United States is looking for its third-straight gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Cup after winning over Serbia in 2013 in Prague, Czech Republic and defeating Croatia in 2015 in Heraklion, Greece.