COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Few people are granted the opportunity to represent their country on the athletic stage. Even fewer get the opportunity more than one time.
Count VCU Head Men's Basketball Coach Shaka Smart in the latter group. Smart was selected to be an assistant coach for the USA Basketball U-18 National Team that is participating in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, which will be played in Brazil from June 16-20.
Smart's former mentor, Billy Donovan, will serve as the head coach of the U18 squad and Gonzaga's Mark Few will be the other assistant on the staff.
"It means a great deal to be selected to participate in USA Basketball and be a part of team that is going overseas to represent our country," Smart said. "I'm really excited about working with both Billy Donovan and Mark Few, quite simply they are two of the absolute best in the business."
All of the coaching selections are made by the USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team committee, which is headed by legendary Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim.
"Having successful coaches like Mark Few and Shaka Smart in the program will make this a tremendously strong staff," Boeheim said. "The USA men's U18 team is going to benefit from having some of the brightest teachers in college basketball guiding them."
For Smart, this will be the second time he has been selected to work with USA Basketball. Last summer, he served as a court coach for the 2011 USA Basketball Men's World University Games Team Training Camp.
The three coaches will head to USA Basketball headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo. to conduct tryouts and training camp from June 5-12. Eight teams will compete in the 2012 U18 zone qualifier, with the top four advancing to play in the U19 World Championships next summer.
Competition play gets underway on June 16th with all the action taking place in Sao Sebastiao do Praiso, Brazil.