On July 5th, Villanova incoming freshman point guard Jalen Brunson helped lead the U.S. U19 team to a gold medal over the Croatian U19 team. The U19’s were competing in the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Greece, which began on June 27th and ended on July 5th.
Croatia had a last second chance to win the championship game in regulation but were unable to convert so, the game went into overtime. The U.S. opened up overtime with a 10-0 run and did not look back after that. Brunson led the way to a 79-71 victory. He finished with 14 game points (5-of-11 shooting) and 6 points in the extra period. He also added 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 1 steal.
As a result of his efforts throughout the tournament, Brunson was named tournament MVP and to the all-tournament team.
Brunson’s standout performance in the title game against Croatia did not come as a surprise as he tallied 17 points (7-of-10 shooting) and five assists in the quarterfinal against Italy. He went on to score 30 points (9-of-13 shooting) in the semifinal against the host nation Greece. Furthermore, he led the U.S. in scoring, assists and three point shooting percentage averages with 14 points, 5.6 assists (ranked #3 in tournament) and 44% from the three point line.
At the beginning of the tournament Bruson shared time in the backcourt with Arizona's Allonzo Trier and Oklahoma State's Jawun Evans but as the games progressed Bruson took over the starting duties at point guard.
For the U.S.’ U19 team, this is their second straight gold medal, as the team won this event in 2013. They are the first team since 1983 to accomplish this feat. This is also the second gold medal for the Illinois native, who won the U18 championship last summer.
Brunson’s experience with the U.S.’ U19 team will definitely help him with his transition to playing in the Big East this upcoming Fall. Not only did he have the opportunity to represent his home country but he showed why he was so heavily coveted coming out of high school. Plus, he played against very good competition during the tournament. He is the highest rated Nova recruit since Corey Stokes in 2007 and Nova basketball fans will be impressed when Brunson begins his college basketball career this season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today High School Sports
-(1) Villanova faces (5) West Virginia in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament