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Longhorn Basketball: Allen, Banks propel Team USA U-18 to FIBA Title

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The USA U-18 team secured the FIBA title, beating Canada 99-84 in the championship game.  The Americans went 5-0 in the tourney and won their games by an average margin of 30.4 ppg.

Future Longhorn big Jarrett Allen was a Team USA mainstay, leading the team in rebounding (9.0 per game) and finished third on the team in scoring (10.6 points per game).  Allen led the team in minutes and was featured in Team USA's "crunch time" line-ups.  I managed to see a couple of games and Allen's length and ability to cover ground impressed me. He'll also get stronger soon enough.  If there was a nit to pick in Allen's game, it was a really poor performance from the free throw line.  He went 11 of 25 from the charity stripe.

Fellow UT freshman James Banks was primarily a reserve drawing less than 10 minutes of play per game, but he led Team USA in blocked shots - previewing the kind of rim protection he'll offer the Longhorns.  Minutes were hard to come by in a loaded front court and a Team USA strategy that favored smaller players, so I wouldn't worry about the spot play.

Beyond the developmental value of playing games against international competition with real stakes, it also gave Shaka Smart a chance to coach other elite players that he's recruiting, including point guard Matt Coleman from Oak Hill Academy.  Coleman is a really nice lead guard who can shoot, dish and defend.

Texas is also heavily in the mix for highly regarded forward PJ Washington, an above-the-rim player with a developing game facing the basket.

I'll be surprised if Shaka doesn't sign a monster 2017 class.