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McGee leaps into U.S. team discussion
"He's not here by accident or mistake. He's one of the most athletic players I've ever seen in my life," said Odom, an 11-year NBA veteran who went over some individual low post drills with McGee during practice on Friday. "He's 7-1, got like a David Robinson build, springs off the floor real quick, goes over the rim. If he can just get his feel for the game together, he can have an impact on a team. Because the game is called basketball, not run and jump."
Since Team USA doesn't have to submit a final roster until Aug. 26 - two days before the world championships begin in Turkey - Colangelo and Krzyzewski both said they may take all 15 remaining players with them next week to Europe, where the U.S. team has exhibitions scheduled against Lithuania, Spain and Greece. The team already lost David Lee, Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez and Amar'e Stoudemire since training began, and got another reminder about the delicate front line when Kevin Love was forced to miss practice after bruising his calf.
"He's shown a really good attitude and a desire to get better," Krzyzewski said. "So this whole experience for him, if he's not selected, he might travel and it still will help him. He's still learning the game. If he can learn the game along with that athletic ability, he can be really good."
McGee said he was disappointed about getting cut last month, but viewed it is a "stepping stone." He planned to continue his own workouts in Los Angeles, which included weightlifting, boxing for conditioning, and playing open gym. When he got the call from his agent about replacing Brook Lopez, McGee said, "I was ready to come back and prove that I deserve to stay."
By sticking around, McGee has a chance to become the third member of his family to earn a gold medal representing this country in basketball. He came across the Olympic gold medal his mother, Pam McGee, won in 1984 while rummaging through his grandmother's jewelry chest at age 12. And this summer, his little sister, Imani Stafford, won a gold medal at the under-17 girls world championships in France.
"I want to get my own," McGee said.
And by this time next year, McGee said he hopes people will have more to say about him than just his athleticism. "I feel I'm going to have a breakout season and it's going to be an eye-opener for a lot of people to see exactly who I am and how I play," McGee said. "I expect it to be a good season."