Sunday, June 27, 2004

Global Games

The Hoops World Turns to Dallas.

It's hard to imagine that the first Global Games were nearly a no-go five years ago.

Problems with logistics -- namely airfare, lodging and transportation costs -- almost caused the event's cancellation just weeks before its scheduled start. But with "Texas hospitality at its finest," as honorary chairman Donnie Nelson put it, and a bit of scrambling, the event went down as a success.

Now, the Global Games, an international basketball event bringing together the world's best players ages 21 and under, is in its fifth year and still has room to grow.

Beginning Sunday and ending July 3 at SMU's Moody Coliseum, 10 teams from four continents, including a USA team featuring some of the area's top talent, will compete for the Global Games gold medal.

This year, local prepsters Jeremis Smith of Dunbar, a Georgia Tech signee, and Southwest's Brent Hackett, a TCU signee, will be on Team USA. Both are making their second consecutive Global Games appearance.

"It's a great opportunity for kids getting ready to go to college," said Royce Johnson, Dallas Kimball's coach who led Team USA to the gold medal in 2002. "I don't think anyone sees that kind of physical play in high school. It really prepares the kids' mind-set for the high intensity they'll get in college."

2004 Global Games

Sunday-July 4, SMU's Moody Coliseum

Tickets: Call 1-800-595-4TIX or visit Coliseum box office, which opens one hour before tipoff of day's first game.

Prices: Single-day, children (10-under) $5, adult $10. Week's pass, children $20, adult $35.

Sunday's games: Russia vs. Ukraine, 1 p.m.; USA vs. Canada, 3 p.m.; Chinese National Team vs. Free Agent Team, 5 p.m. (exhibition); Serbia-Montenegro vs. Puerto Rico, 7 p.m.; Lithuania vs. China, 9 p.m.
From another story:
"We've got a very good team, but we're not very tall," said Global Games executive director Michael Sorrell. "I've watched Jim's teams over the past four years or so and he has a history of molding teams like that into a very good basketball team. We're excited about having him as the coach."
Ra'Sean Dickey and Lamarcus Aldridge are the tallest players on the team.

From another story with quotes from Coach Hewitt - link here.

In four years, the Global Games has seen Yao Ming, Carlos Boozer and former Lincoln standout Chris Bosh go from prep school caterpillars to NBA butterflies. Yao, a 2001 Global Games alum, was the NBA's No. 1 draft pick in 2002.

Bosh was the No. 4 pick in last year's draft. Boozer was added this month to play for the 2004 U.S. Olympic team. Darko Milicic, the No. 2 pick behind LeBron James last year, was a 17-year-old for Yugoslavia in the 2002 Global Games. He now has a championship ring with the Pistons.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt also likes the event. With four Georgia Tech signees from the 2004 group, Hewitt will have coached the most Global Games alums, 11, and he has noticed the improvement in his players.

Of the 14 roster players on a Georgia Tech team that reached the Final Four last season, five have played in the Global Games, including standout guard Jarrett Jack and talented forward Isma'il Muhammad.

"I know it really helped Isma'il Muhammad his first year," Hewitt said. "It builds confidence and shows them how the game's intensity increases from high school to college. Look at where Chris Bosh is now. Look at the player Jarrett Jack is becoming."