This year’s team will boast of number of different college basketball stars, some of whom have ties to tristate area.
The roster includes at the guard position KJ Smith (UNC), Caleb Smith (Northeastern State), Amorie Archibald (Louisiana Tech), Jalen Carey (Syracuse), Dane Goodwin (Notre Dame), and Jake Killingsworth (Columbia),
Rounding out the roster are forwards Fenton Bradley Jr. (Western Connecticut State), Ryan Kriener (Iowa), Juwan Durham (Notre Dame), Will Moreton (Stonehill) and Patrick Tape (Columbia)
“We really wanted to make sure we could score this year,” said Guy Rancourt, who founded USA East Coast in 2006. “The one thing the Europeans do an excellent job of is playing as a team and sharing the ball, making that extra pass.
The benefits we have many times is the ability to create for ourselves and having guys that could score, especially when you’re limited in your practice time,” he added. “Being able to go through a set or run a play if it doesn’t work perfectly, at least having the ball in someone’s hands that could get a shot for themselves.”
The team will be coached by Adrian “Red” Autry, who is in his second season with the program after serving as an assistant coach for last year’s trip to Europe.
Autry is an associate head coach at Syracuse University under Jim Boeheim. Autry started at point guard under Boeheim from 1990-1994 at the school.
Fellow Syracuse assistant coach Allen Griffin will also be with USA East Coast in the same role. Jason Gilliam-Alexander, a Queens native and CEO of Mentoring Valuable Protégés, will oversee player development.
Jack Donius of Providence will direct basketball operations, and Kevin Witasick from Rowan directs all media activities.
While the team does boast division one talent, like Archibald of Louisiana Tech, who averaged 10.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists as a sophomore, along with Notre Dame rotation players Goodwin and Durham, Rancourt insists that fans should pay attention to the other players coming from less heralded programs.
“Wil Morton, from Stonehill College is arguably the best player in their conference,” Rancourt said. “it’s going to give him an opportunity to see just how much he’s improved since he was in high school. Playing beyond college is something realistic for him.
“And Fenton Bradley from Western Connecticut State is an absolute high major athlete,” he continued. “He’s 6-foot-7 and has total guard skills. It’s gonna be a challenge for him as well to see what level he can perform at.”
The USA East Coast program has featured 60 future pros, along with eight players who reached the NBA level, including Golden State Warriors guard Quinn Cook, who is currently playing in the NBA Finals.
Rancourt attributes the program’s growth to figures like Larry Brown and Frank Martin, who have previously worked with the team, along with the likes of the legendary Kenny Smith, whose son will be on the roster this year.
“It started with relationships,” he said. “Just talking to a few different coaches throughout the country and them expressing the desire of being able to have their guys get better in the summer, whether it’d be individually working out or going against better competition like these foreign tours.
“Being able to go into different countries, different environments, different cultures, that’s the biggest takeaway,” added Rancourt. “The games are terrific and the guys love it, but things are different when you go to other places.”
The Queens-based club will hold training camp at Columbia University this coming weekend before embarking on a journey to Athens. The squad will face the Greek National Team and a team from the Greek Basket A1 League, as well as a team from the Philippines.
The games will be live-streamed every day from June 12 to June 14,. For updates, follow East Coast on Twitter at @East_Coast_BBC.