June 5, 2007
Southern Illinois University forward Randal Falker has been selected to try out for the USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team.
A First-Team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection last season, Falker is one of 30 of the nation's top collegiate basketball players who have accepted invitations to participate in the July 12-14 trials to be held at Haverford College (Pa.).
The 6-foot-7 senior averaged 12.3 ppg and 7.7 rpg last season for the MVC champion Salukis. He also led the league in blocked shots and helped SIU advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
"It's a tremendous honor to be invited, and it also challenges me to keep improving," said Falker. "There are some great players trying out, but I feel I have as good a chance as anybody to make the team."
Highlighted by 16 players possessing prior USA Basketball experience, as well as one All-American and 10 all-conference first team honorees, the trials will be used to select 12 players for the USA Basketball Pan American Games squad. The team will look to capture gold at the 2007 Pan American Games that are being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 13-29. Athlete selections for the Trials were made by the USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee, chaired by Syracuse University (N.Y.) head coach Jim Boeheim.
Accepting invitations to participate in the 2007 USA Pan American Games Team Trials were: Jon Brockman (Washington / Snohomish, Wash.); Brian Butch (Wisconsin / Appleton, Wis.); Josh Carter (Texas A&M / Dallas, Texas); Mario Chalmers (Kansas / Anchorage, Alaska); Sherron Collins (Kansas / Chicago, Ill.); Brandan Costner (North Carolina State / West Orange, N.J.); Eric Devendorf (Syracuse / Bay City, Mich.); Joey Dorsey (Memphis / Baltimore, Md.); Wayne Ellington (North Carolina / Wynnewood, Pa.); Randal Falker (Southern Illinois / St. Louis, Mo.); Shan Foster (Vanderbilt / Lenner, La.); Alonzo Gee (Alabama / Palm Beach, Fla.); James Gist (Maryland / Silver Spring, Md.); Richard Hendrix (Alabama / Athens, Ala.); Roy Hibbert (Georgetown / Adelphi, Md.); Maarty Leunen (Oregon / Redmond, Ore.); Chris Lofton (Tennessee / Maysville, Ky.); Derrick Low (Washington State / Honolulu, Hawaii); Wesley Matthews (Marquette / Madison, Wis.); Eric Maynor (Virginia Commonwealth / Fayetteville, N.C.); Jerel McNeal (Marquette / Chicago, Ill.); Tasmin Mitchell (LSU / Denham Springs, La.); Drew Neitzel (Michigan State / Grand Rapids, Mich.); DeMarcus Nelson (Duke / Elk Grove, Calif.); Ahmad Nivins (Saint Joseph's / Jersey City, N.J.); Scottie Reynolds (Villanova / Herndon, Va.); Jon Scheyer (Duke / Northbrook, Ill.); Bryce Taylor (Oregon / Encino, Calif.); Kyle Weaver (Washington State / Beloit, Wis.); D.J. White (Indiana / Tuscaloosa, Ala.).
Ten separate conferences have players involved in the trials, with the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big East Conference, Pacific-10 Conference and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) heading the list with five players each; the Big 12 and the Big Ten Conference have three players; and the Atlantic 10 Conference, Conference USA, Colonial Athletic Association, and Missouri Valley Conference all have one player participating in the trials.
Villanova University (Pa.) head coach Jay Wright is leading the USA's 2007 Pan American Games Team, while University of Alabama head mentor Mark Gottfried and Yale University head coach James Jones will serve as assistant coaches.
The first trials session will be held on Thursday, July 12, 5-7 p.m. (all times local, EDT). Two trials sessions (10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 5-7 p.m.) will be held on July 13 and 14. The selected USA team finalists will remain for the USA's July 15-21 training camp.
The official 12-member USA Pan American Games squad will compete July 25-29 in the 2007 Pan American Games men's basketball competition. The United States has been placed in preliminary round Group A along with Argentina, Panama and Uruguay, and Group B consists of Brazil, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The U.S. opens preliminary play July 25 facing Uruguay (10 p.m. Rio de Janeiro local time), then meets Panama on July 26 (7:45 p.m. Rio de Janeiro local time) and the U.S. closes out preliminary round action against Argentina on July 27 (7:45 p.m. Rio de Janeiro local time). Semifinals will be held on July 28 and the finals will be played July 29.
The Pan American Games, held every four years in the year prior to the Olympics and organized by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO), is a multi-sport competition open to men and women representing countries from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean.
The 2007 Pan American Games will be held July 13-29 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the men's basketball competition slated for July 25-29.
Many USA Basketball athletes who have been selected to a Pan American Games team have gone on to compete in the Olympic Games, while numerous others enjoyed stellar professional careers. In all, 34 Pan Am athletes have been a member of a U.S. Olympic squad, including Ernie Grunfeld; Grant Hill; Luscious Jackson; Michael Jordan; Christian Laettner; Danny Manning; Chris Mullin; Emeka Okafor; Sam Perkins; Oscar Robertson; David Robinson; Isiah Thomas; Jerry West; and Jo Jo White.
While the list of former Pan American Games players is impressive, the list of USA head coaches is equally striking. The list of head coaches of USA Pan American Games teams includes: Tom Izzo (2003); Mo McHone (1999); Mike Thibault (1995); Gene Keady (1991); Denny Crum (1987); Jack Hartman (1983); Bob Knight (1979); Marv Harshman (1975); Jim Gudger (1971); Hal Fischer (1967); Garland Pinholster (1963); Fred Schaus (1959); Lt. Norman Pilgrim (1955); and Hal Fischer and John Longfellow (1951).