Bird to try out for USA U18 team

Salesian High boys basketball star Jabari Bird will compete in June to earn a spot on the USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team.
The 6-foot-6 junior guard is one of 24 players to accept an invitation to compete for one of the team’s 12 rosters spots. He’ll travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., to train with the team June 5-12 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
The team that is selected will compete June 16-20 in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Sao Sebastiáo do Paraiso, Brazil.
“I’ve always grown up watching the USA team and always wanted to be a part of it,” Bird said. “It’s a real big moment in my life and my career.”

Bird is one of six players in the high school graduating class of 2013 to be invited. The list of players trying out includes one collegiate player – Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes – and 17 players in the 2012 class.
The only other California player is 6-11 center Robert Upshaw of San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun and going to be a great learning experience,” Bird said. “Some guys are a grade older than me. It’s going to be fun to compete with them.”
Bird learned two weeks ago that he was in the running to be invited and it became official on Thursday, when the team was announced. He’s hopeful he can show the coaching staff enough to earn a spot on the final roster.
“I’ve just got to go up there and play hard and hopefully impress the coaches,” Bird said.
The team will be coached by Billy Donovan, the head coach at the University of Florida. Gonzaga’s Mark Few and Virginia Commonwealth’s Shaka Smart will serve as assistants. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is the chair of the USA Junior National Team Committee.
“We have a very talented group of young players that will have a great chance of bringing home a gold medal,” Boeheim said in a release.
Bird, the Bay Area News Group East Bay Player of the Year, averaged 18.7 points per game while leading Salesian to the California Interscholastic Federation Division IV state championship. ESPN ranks Bird the No. 8 prospect in the county in the 2013 class.

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.