As you all know by now, Justin Bibbs received a great honor last week when he was added to the Team USA Under-19 roster. He’ll play for America against the best Under-19 talent in the word in the World Championships in Crete.
This will be a great experience for Bibbs. Counting all the playing time he got as a freshman in the ACC, plus his play in the World Championships this summer, there probably won’t be a more experienced sophomore in college basketball this coming season.
If you’re wondering about the talent level of the Under-19 team, here are some past players: Stacey Augmon (1987); Vin Baker (1991); Vince Carter (1995); Nick Collison (1999); Stephen Curry (2007); Eric Floyd (1979); Aaron Gordon (2013 MVP); Tim Hardaway Jr. (2011); Montrezl Harrell (2013); Gordon Hayward (2009); Larry Johnson (1987); Jeremy Lamb (2011); Stephon Marbury (1995); Doug McDermott (2011); Jahlil Okafor (2013); Gary Payton (1987); Sam Perkins (1979); J.J. Redick (2003); Marcus Smart (2013); Klay Thompson (2009); Deron Williams (2003); Justise Winslow (2013); and James Worthy (1979).
Yes, that Stephen Curry. And yes, that Montrezl Harrell. Sigh.
As far as the other players on this year’s team, here’s a list…
Jalen Brunson: 5-star point guard, headed to Villanova
Jawun Evans: 5-star point guard, headed to Oklahoma State (VT was a finalist)
Terrance Ferguson: 5-star wing for the 2016 class, undecided
Harry Giles: Top five player for the 2016 class, undecided
Josh Jackson: Top five player for the 2016 class, undecided
Chinanu Onuaku: Rising sophomore at Louisville
LJ Peak: Rising sophomore at Georgetown
Caleb Swanigan: 5-star wing, headed to Purdue
Jayson Tatum: Top 10 player for the 2016 class, undecided
Allonzo Trier: 5-star wing, headed to Arizona
Thomas Welsh: Rising sophomore at UCLA
In short, the Under-19 team features either 5-star blue chip prospects, or guys who are playing for big programs such as Louisville, Georgetown, Purdue and UCLA. Justin Bibbs is in pretty darn good company.
Not only will he be practicing against some future NBA players every single day, but he’ll be playing the best of the best from around the world as well. This has the potential to do a lot for his career. He’s also a very nice kid, so it’s great to see something good like this happening to him.
As Will Stewart posted on the basketball board last week, I was concerned about Bibbs and his performances after he suffered a concussion last year. He simply wasn’t the same player post-concussion as he was pre-concussion. He opened ACC play by dropping 22 on Syracuse, 25 on Florida State and 15 on Louisville. He was shooting lights out, and playing at a very high level on the offensive end. Then the concussion happened, and things started going downhill.
He had a couple of good performances after the concussion (19 against both Syracuse and NC State), but on the whole he wasn’t nearly as good, and in fact seemed like a detriment at times. Those performances left a lot of questions going through my head.
Who was the real Justin Bibbs? Pre-concussion or post-concussion? Something in between? After seeing Ben Emelogu struggle with concussion issues the previous season, I was pretty worried. The fact that Bibbs made the Under-19 team should give us a better idea of his ceiling. It’s a lot closer to the pre-concussion Bibbs than the post-concussion Bibbs. Thank goodness. Our basketball program has needed some good luck.
Hopefully his recent performances with the Under-19 team are a sign of things to come. Despite his post-concussion struggles, Bibbs still averaged 11.4 points per game and shot 41.3% from three-point range. It’s tough to ask much more than that from a freshman.
A situation like this can also do nothing but help recruiting. You can deliver the message that playing basketball at Virginia Tech will let you face the best competition in college during the season, and the best in the world during the summer…if you’re good enough. That’s the type of thing that recruits want to hear.
The team is currently going through training camp in Athens. Then they’ll face Iran, Croatia and Egypt in a preliminary round before beginning the actual tournament. Other countries involved are Argentina, Chile, Spain, Turkey, Australia, Canada, Italy, Tunisia, Dominican Republic, Greece, Serbia and South Korea. The event will conclude with the Gold Medal Game on July 5.