Calipari: Players’ choice to reject Team USA invites


McDonald’s East All American Julius Randle looks to score underneath the basket in the first half against the McDonald’s West All Americans at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, on Wednesday, April 3, 2013. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Staff report | @KyKernelSports

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Junior forward Kyle Wiltjer hopes to play for Team Canada this summer, but none of his teammates on the Cats’ 2013-14 roster will join him on the international basketball circuit this summer.

USA Basketball announced, on Wednesday, the list of 24 players that will attend training camp ahead of the 2013 U-19 World Championships.

Despite six Cats freshmen being named in the top 24 of’s final Class of 2013 rankings, the list contained zero UK players.

UK head coach John Calipari told Mike DeCourey of The Sporting News that it was the players’ decisions to not attend the training camp.

“Most of it is, they didn’t want to play. I’m not forcing kids to do anything,” Calipari said. “I think the reason they all turned it down is, they want to get started.”

Freshman center Dakari Johnson, freshman guards Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison, and freshman forward Julius Randle have all represented Team USA in the past.

“I encouraged it: This is your stuff, and if you want to play, I’ll support it,” Calipari said. “It’s not like I’m going to say, ‘You can try out for any other national team, you just can’t try out for the U.S.’”

No UK players suited up for Team USA in the summer of 2011, either.

The Cats used the extra time together to build the foundations of a National Championship-winning season.

Calipari also revealed that Randle and sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein rejected invitations to play for USA at the World University Games.

“Willie said, ‘This is not the summer for me to do this stuff. I just can’t wait to get back. I want to get prepared,’” Calipari said to DeCourey. “I’m happy they’re thinking in those terms. They know the spotlight’s on them.”