Missouri Basketball’s Marcus Denmon was named one of 14 finalists for the 2011 USA Basketball World University Games team on Sunday and will remain in Colorado Springs, Colo., through Aug. 7 to train with the club before it departs for China on Aug. 8.
The roster will be cut to 12 members before the team leaves the country, but Denmon enjoyed an outstanding weekend of play and gives the roster excellent versatility at both the shooting guard and point guard positions.
“It’s been a great experience and it was humbling when I heard I was on the team,” Denmon said. “I am just proud I am able to represent my university, represent Kansas City and represent our country.”
Denmon is the lone Big 12 representative among the Team USA finalists, which also include Tim Abromaitis (Notre Dame/Unionville, Conn.); Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh/Scotch Plains, N.J.); Draymond Green (Michigan State/Saginaw, Mich.); JaMychal Green (Alabama/Montgomery, Ala.); Scoop Jardine (Syracuse/Philadelphia, Pa.); John Jenkins (Vanderbilt/ Hendersonville, Tenn.); Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara/Seaside, Calif.); Greg Mangano (Yale/Orange, Conn.); Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota/ St. Paul, Minn.); Ray McCallum (Detroit Mercy/Beverly Hills, Mich.); Darius Miller (Kentucky/Maysville, Ky.); Aaric Murray (West Virginia/Philadelphia, Pa.); and Shabazz Napier (Connecticut/Randolph, Mass.).
“I think it’s a great group,” said USA and Purdue University head coach Matt Painter. “We have a lot of balance. I think on the interior we have some shot-blockers, we have some athletes, guys that can really go and get the basketball and some real good shooters. We have some good, interchangeable parts, and a lot of talent, both returning talent and young. I’m really excited about the mix we have.”
Denmon is coming off a career year in which he earned first team All-Big 12 recognition. The Kansas City native averaged 16.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He led the Tigers in scoring, 3-point field goals (82) and three-point field goal percentage (.448), while ranking among the top 10 of the Big 12 in scoring (7th), field goal percentage (5th), steals (3rd), 3-point percentage (2nd) and 3-point makes per game (5th). Overall Denmon started 33-of-34 games and reached double figures in 30 contests, topping 20 points 12 times. He also shot 50 percent from the floor for the year, the highest for a Missouri guard since Rickey Paulding in 2001-02.
“My mindset was to come out here and outwork everyone,” Denmon said. “There are a lot of great players here and everyone was deserving to make this team and sometimes shots fall and sometimes they don’t, but if you just play hard and put in work, good things will happen.”
Fellow Tiger Kim English also enjoyed a good weekend of play in Colorado Springs, but was not one of the 14 finalists selected by the World University Game committee.
“It was a great experience and it’s something we can all use to get us ready for the 2012 season,” English said. “I’m excited for Marcus. He is going to represent our university and our country over in China and bring us home the gold.”