Spartans Denzel Valentine, Gary Harris Named To 2016 USA Basketball Select Team

Matt Larson

Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine.  Photo courtesy of MSU SID.
Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine. Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

Valentine is just one of five players among the 25 participants to have played college basketball last year.

Former Michigan State men’s basketball team members Denzel Valentine and Gary Harris are among the 25 players named to the 2016 USA Men’s Select Team that will train July 18-21 with the 2016 USA Basketball Men’s National Team during its training camp in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Of the 25 players, Valentine is one of just five to have played collegiately last season, joining Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia), Kris Dunn (Providence), Brandon Ingram (Duke) and Brice Johnson (North Carolina). Harris is among 20 participants with NBA experience, including Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns); Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Detroit Pistons); Willie Cauley-Stein (Sacramento Kings); Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic); Jerami Grant (Philadelphia 76ers); Rodney Hood (Utah Jazz); Stanley Johnson (Detroit Pistons); Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves); CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers); Doug McDermott (Chicago Bulls); Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver Nuggets); Jahlil Okafor (Philadelphia 76ers); Jabari Parker (Milwaukee Bucks); Julius Randle (Los Angeles Lakers); D’Angelo Russell (Los Angeles Lakers); Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Justise Winslow (Miami Heat) and Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets). Among the 20 players with NBA experience, eight just completed their rookie season in 2015-16, nine wrapped up their second season, and three are third-year NBA players.

Valentine and Harris were part of the same recruiting class for the Spartans, joining MSU as freshmen for the 2012-13 season. Following a 2013-14 campaign that saw MSU advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament and capture a Big Ten Tournament championship, and him earn First-Team All-Big Ten honors, Harris declared for the NBA Draft. He was selected in the first round by the Chicago Bulls with the 19th pick, and later traded to the Denver Nuggets on draft night. Valentine stayed at Michigan State for four seasons, advancing to the 2015 Final Four, and capturing another Big Ten Tournament title in 2016. He earned six National Player of the Year Awards, along with Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors, as a senior, and is expected to be a first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Another Spartan, Draymond Green, is among the finalists for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team.

“Being a part of the USA Select Men’s Team is a great opportunity for both Denzel and Gary,” said MSU head coach Tom Izzo. “I’ve said that one of the greatest honors this game has given me is the pleasure to represent my country. Both Denzel and Gary have experienced that as well as a part of previous USA Basketball teams. But the chance to train with some of the best young talent in the game as well as the U.S. Olympic Team is a unique opportunity that will only serve to benefit them in the early stages of their careers.”

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, head coach of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team for the 2017-20 quadrennium, will oversee the Select Team.

“The 2016 USA Basketball Select Team continues to our tradition of featuring some of the game’s brightest and most promising young players. Participation in this camp provides them with valuable experience at the USA Basketball National Team level, while helping prepare the 2016 USA National Team for its upcoming international competition. For many of the Select Team players this is a continuation of their USA Basketball experiences and for others it is an introduction into our pipeline,” said Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball National Team managing director.

“Being chosen for the Select Team is an honor and it is an important step in becoming involved in USA Basketball’s National Team program in the future. Current national team players like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, as well as many other outstanding players, got their USA National Team start through a Select Team.

“We’re also very excited to get our future national team head coach Gregg Popovich involved this summer. Coach Popovich’s coaching success speaks for itself and it will be great to have him be a part of this year’s Las Vegas training camp.”

Members of the USA Select Team will train daily with the USA National Team from July 18-21 (12:00-2:00 p.m. PDT) at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center. All practices are closed to the public.

The 2016 USA Basketball Showcase presented by Verizon will feature the USA Basketball Men’s National Team playing five domestic exhibition games and conducting training camps in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago and Houston.

The USA Basketball Showcase presented by Verizon in Las Vegas will feature the USA going against South American rival Argentina on July 22 in Las Vegas. Tickets for the USA Basketball Showcase exhibition games are on sale now. VIP ticket packages available in select markets. For ticket information visit

Since the development of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team program in 2006, USA Basketball has previously selected and utilized five USA Select teams to help the USA National teams prepare for major international competitions.

The first USA Select Team was fielded in 2007 and featured up and coming players like Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson, David Lee and J.J. Redick. USA Basketball assembled another Select squad in 2008 that featured future NBA All-Stars like LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, Iguodala, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook. In 2010 and to help prepare the USA for the FIBA World Championship, a 20-member Select Team was assembled and was comprised by top returning collegiate players. Among players on the 2010 roster were BYU guard Jimmer Fredette; Butler guard Shelvin Mack, Duke’s Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, UConn’s Kemba Walker and others. The 2012 Select squad featured future USA National Team members DeMarcus Cousins, DeMar DeRozan, Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson, and most recently, the 2014 Select Team included Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, McDermott, Victor Oladipo, Dion Waiters and Zeller.