The Olympics it's not, but future Olympians it well might breed.

The United States Youth Games, 16 years old and going strong, has arrived in Washington. At 9 o'clock this morning, the first group of boys and girls, ages 9-15, will step on the McDonough Gym floor on the Georgetown campus for the basketball competition, and the torch will be lit.

The flame will burn until late Saturday when the last race has been run. In all, there are 12 cities, five sports, and much enthusiasm in this, the second games Washington has hosted. The first was 1969.

Mayor Marion Barry has pledged his support and Wes Unseld and Kevin Grevey will help promote the occasion.

Said Unseld who first got involved with the Youth Games as a member of the Baltimore Bullets: "The games are quite an opportunity for most of the youngsters to leave their cities. I'm looking forward to a tremendous three days of competition."

Washington will play its first-round basketball game at 9 a.m. today against Columbia, S.C., at Yates Field House. The Washington girls team plays at 4 p.m. at McDonough Gym. Other than basketball, only tennis will begin today, with swimming, bowling, and track and field starting Friday.

All events, except for bowling, will take place at Georgetown. Track and field is the largest division with 34 of the 76-member teams partcipating.

While Washington is defending champion in boys and girls bowling, boys track, and girls basketball and swimming, it managed to place only seventh in boys basketball last year. Danny Ferry, son of Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry, will be competing in his second straight games.

"I had such a good time last year that I just wanted to come back," said the DeMatha sophomore. "I think we'll do a little better this year."

"We want to go home in first place in every game, every competition," said Mayor Barry. "But it's not just playing the game, it's how you play the game. Athletics should help to develop young people's minds as well as bodies.

"I'm hoping for at least 20,000 spectators for the events."

Other defending champions are Richmond in boys basketball, Birmingham in boys swimming, New York City in boys tennis and girls track, and Springfield, Mass., in girls tennis.

Springfield, site of the last two games, does not have a team this year. Other teams are from East Orange, Paterson, and Newark, N.J., Boston, Columbia, S.C., and New Haven, Conn.