Russell, Randle Become First Lakers On USA Select Team

The duo will be on hand for the camp, which trains from July 18-21, before the National Team goes on a pre-Olympics exhibition tour that includes a stop at Staples Center on July 24.

Before shipping off to Rio de Janeiro and the Olympic Games, the United States National Team will get rolling with training camp in Las Vegas. And on the other end of scrimmages will be the USA Men’s Select Team, which includes a pair of Lakers this year.

D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle will join a group of some of the NBA and NCAA’s best young, American players, marking the first time that any Laker has suited up for the Select Team.

The duo will be on hand for the camp, which trains from July 18-21, before the National Team goes on a pre-Olympics exhibition tour that includes a stop at Staples Center on July 24.

The experience promises to be a valuable one on several fronts for Russell and Randle. They will be practicing against, arguably, the most talented roster in the world, as the National Team currently sits at 28 finalists, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Klay Thompson.

Plus, they will be working alongside 23 of the country’s top young stars, like First Team All-Rookie selections Devin Booker and Jahlil Okafor, plus Most Improved Player C.J. McCollum. Rounding out the crew will be a crop of projected lottery picks, such as Duke’s Brandon Ingram, Providence’s Kris Dunn and Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine.

But perhaps the biggest bonus will be the opportunity to serve under San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich for four days. The five-time NBA champion will coach the Select Team this year before taking over as head coach of the National Team for Mike Krzyzewski after the Rio Games. Popovich’s staff for the Select Team also has an established resume, as he will be joined by the head coach of NCAA-champion Villanova, Jay Wright, and Spurs assistant Ime Udoka.
Though Russell and Randle are the first Lakers to board the Select Team, they are far from pioneers for the purple and gold with USA Basketball.

Magic Johnson was the first Laker to wear red, white and blue when he and the 1992 Dream Team swept through the Barcelona Games. On the way to a gold medal, Johnson averaged 8.0 point and 5.5 assists in six of the Americans’ eight wins.

Fifteen years later, Kobe Bryant suited up for the 2007 FIBA Americas tournament in order to qualify for the following Olympics. He scored 31 points in the gold-medal match, booking tickets to Beijing in 2008, where Team USA went undefeated. In fact, Bryant’s international career finished with a flawless 26-0 record after more gold at the 2012 London Games.

Lastly, Lamar Odom helped his country to gold at the 2010 FIBA World Championship by grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds in the title game against hosting Turkey.

While this will be Russell’s first USA Basketball experience, Randle is returning to the organization that he originally joined as a Texas high schooler at Prestonwood Christian Academy. He led the U.S. to the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 championship by collecting 18 points and 12 rebounds in the gold-medal game that capped off a 5-0 run. The next year, he suited up for his country again at the 2013 Nike Hoops Summit, though the USA Junior Select Team lost, 112-98.

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