Now, if we could just do something about that haircut. Image via media.247sports.com
When Jake Layman was invited to the USA Basketball U18 tryouts, we thought it would be good experience to go up against the nation's best. You know what's really good experience? Actually making the team.
Layman joins an illustrious roster, including Nate Britt, Sam Dekker, Rodney Purvis, Julius Randle, and Rasheed Sulaimon, among others. The team will compete in the FIBA Americas U18 Championships, which starts June 19 in Brazil. The USA's group includes Mexico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and host nation Brazil. Argentina, which is the #3 country in the world ranked by FIBA, is also there and will likely be the US' strongest competition.
This will delay Layman's arrival on campus in College Park even more - the other freshmen are already here and practicing - but it's clearly worth it and then some. He'll be facing elite players in practice every day, not to mention playing against some of the world's best young players to boot. For a guy who was coming off the bench for his AAU team and playing against poor competition for his high school, that's a pretty huge deal. He likely stands to gain more from the experience then anyone else in the camp.
And, of course, it's a good sign that he made the cut, as well. Among the players he beat out: UNC commit Joel James, five-star 2013 wing Troy Williams, Robert Carter, and the Harrison twins themselves. That's not a bad lineup, and hopefully says a lot about where Layman is as a player. Layman's always had potential that's through the roof, but the assumption was that it would take some time at the highest level to realize that. If this is any indication, maybe not.
And if that's the case, well, maybe, just maybe, next year will be a bit better than we otherwise thought. I'm not one for throwing huge expectations on freshmen (see Nick Faust's hot-and-cold start), but I'll take what I can get.