Cal, trio of Cats off to good start in Cairo

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CAIRO – The Kentucky men’s basketball team will be well represented at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup in Cairo.

Freshman guard Hamidou Diallo, freshman forward PJ Washington, redshirt sophomore forward Tai Wynyard and UK head coach John Calipari will all be a part of the biennial FIBA World Cup, which begins Saturday and concludes with the championship game on July 9. Diallo and Washington will suit up for the Calipari-coached USA Basketball squad while Wynyard will play for the Junior Tall Blacks, New Zealand’s U19 team.

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Kentucky is believed to be the most well-represented school at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup – and the Wildcats nearly had even more at the games.

UK freshman forward Kevin Knox made the initial 16-man pool for USA Basketball but removed his name from consideration after suffering a minor hamstring injury. Freshman guard Shai Gilegous-Alexander was invited to try out for the Canadian national team but opted to stay in Lexington to train with his college team.

The games will begin Saturday at 7 a.m. ET with Wynyard’s Junior Tall Blacks taking on Korea. Team USA, featuring Diallo, Washington and Calipari, will open at 11:30 a.m. ET. All games will be live streamed via FIBA’s live stream channel, which can be accessed at fiba.com/world/u19/2017/videos. FIBA’s YouTube channel will also live stream the games.



The 16 teams will be split into four groups and play three games each in preliminary round play through Tuesday. Following the preliminary round, all 16 teams will be seeded according to group-play results and will advance to the July 5 round of 16. Winners will advance to the July 7 medal quarterfinals, while the remaining teams will continue playing out for classification. The medal semifinals will be held July 8, and the gold- and bronze-medal games are slated for July 9.

Wynyard will not have a chance to face his teammates on Team USA in group play as New Zealand drew Group A and the United States is in Group D.

Team USA, ranked No. 1 overall in the world, will be looking for its third straight title at the FIBA World Cup after capturing gold at the 2013 and 2015 tournaments. New Zealand is ranked No. 33.

All three Wildcat players and Calipari have international and/or USA Basketball experience, with Diallo and Washington helping the U19 team qualify for this year’s World Cup.

After testing the waters for a potential entry into the NBA Draft in April, Diallo announced in May his return to Kentucky. Although he didn’t play for the Wildcats after enrolling midyear, he is expected to be a leading returner on an extremely young team after becoming a vital practice player down the stretch of the 2016-17 season.

A top-10 prospect in the 2017 class before reclassifying, Diallo led Putnam Science Academy to a 38-3 record with an appearance in the state semifinals. The two-time all-state honoree averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his final full season of high school. He averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds for the 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team that won a gold medal at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Chile.

Washington, measured at 6-foot-8, 229 pounds, is rated as high as the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2017 rankings by ESPN. Scout and Rivals tab him at No. 14 overall and 247Sports ranks him No. 18. He was named to the All-USA Boys Basketball Second Team in March and played in the 2017 McDonald’s All American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic. He also won most valuable player honors at the inaugural Allen Iverson Roundball Classic.

Washington started all five games and averaged 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds for the gold-medal winning 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team in Chile. He was also a member of the 2015 USA 3×3 U18 World Championship Team, which finished in eighth place in Debrecen, Hungary.

Diallo and Washington played well in Team USA’s two exhibition games. Diallo averaged 16.0 points and Washington averaged 15.5 points in two victories over Lithuania and France.

No stranger to international competition with New Zealand, Wynyard has played in the 2013 FIBA U16 Oceania Championship, the 2014 FIBA U18 Oceania Championship and the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championship. He was also named the most valuable player of the FIBA 3×3 World Cup in 2015 after he led his team to the gold medal. He played again in the 3×3 World Cup in 2016.

Wynyard just finished his second season at Kentucky. After enrolling midyear for the 2015-16 season and ultimately redshirting, Wynyard appeared in 15 games in 2016-17. He averaged 3.6 minutes a game and scored 11 points with 13 rebounds and three blocks.

Calipari previously served with USA Basketball as the head coach of the 1995 U.S. Olympic Festival East Team, but he has recent international experience as the head coach of the Dominican Republic National Team in 2011 and 2012. His impact on that country’s national team was immediate and unprecedented.

In his first year with the team, Calipari led the Dominican Republic to a bronze-medal finish at the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship in Mar del Plata, Argentina, defeating archrival Puerto Rico and world power Brazil along the way. The Dominicans came within one win in the semifinal round of qualifying for the country’s first-ever appearance in the Olympics. The third-place finish secured a spot at the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament as one of 12 teams vying for three open spots to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. There, again, the Dominicans came within one win of making history and qualifying for the Olympics.

Calipari also led the Dominican Republic to a gold medal at the 2012 Centrobasket tournament, which is contested by the national teams from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. It was the first Centrobasket title in eight years for the Dominican Republic and just the third in the country’s history.

For more information on the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup, please visit fiba.com/world/u19/2017.