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Posted On: 10/6/18 9:09 AM
COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. – Two Southern California-based hoopers from the Class of 2020 are on return visits to the USA Olympic Training Center.
And Josh Christopher (Mayfair) and Johnny Juzang (Harvard-Westlake) hope to build upon their experiences during those initials and last summer and last October.
The 6-foot-5 Christopher and 6-6 Juzang, joined by fellow SoCal-based residents Evan Mobley (also from the Class of 2020/Rancho Christian) and Kijani Wright (a freshman at Windward), are part of the 88 players – spread across all four classes – invited to the largest-ever USA Basketball “mini-camp” scheduled for this weekend.
Workouts continue at 10:30 a.m. (MT) and 4:30 on Saturday and conclude with 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. sessions on Sunday.
Christopher (who attended this same event a year ago) and Juzang (who made his USA BB debut last June) were part of the 30 players invited to the 17U Trials here last spring to make up the team that ultimately won the FIBA championship in Argentina in early July.
They made the roster cut to 18 but were among the six guys getting who were informed on June 21 they wouldn’t be going to South America.
The sting of the moment may have been bitter but Christopher and Juzang seem confident it will, ultimately, make them better.
“They (the USA BB Don Showalter-led coaching staff) told me I needed to ‘clean up a few things’,” Christopher said, matter-of-factly, after Friday night’s session.
“This (setting) is so intense so you have to be prepared to match that each time out. It (being cut) served as good motivation for me, through the summer and into this coming season (at Mayfair).”
Juzang and Mobley were members of the Compton Magic 17s squad that was the consensus top squad on the club ball circuit last summer.
The 6-11 Mobley – also in his first trek into the world of USA BB – did make the cut to 12 and the trip to Argentina last summer and was easily one of the more impressive players on display Friday night.
Juzang and Mobley will be part of that same Compton Magic program this spring and summer and Juzang hopes to join his buddy on the USA B 18U club, too.
“There were so many good players here (last June) and even more than that right now,” he said. “Everyone here is really good.”
His first USA BB experience showed him that “you have to focus on playing with consistency,” Juzang added.
“So much of it is about doing all the ‘little things” (fundamentally). It’s certainly a challenge.”