'I'm extremely excited' said Jazz's Hayward about making U.S. national team

Jan 23 2014 - 7:27pm

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Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY -- Gordon Hayward is going international ... maybe.

The Utah Jazz guard on Thursday was named to USA Basketball's 2014-16 initial national team roster and potentially could be added to the United State's squad competing in the 2014 Word Championships and the 2016 Olympics.

For the time being, he's among the pool of 28 players who be chosen to comprise the USA's final roster.

"(I am) Extremely excited," Hayward said before the Jazz's team practice Thursday morning. "It's a great opportunity and something I've been working towards."

Hayward is no stranger to USA Basketball or to the international game.

Last July he and teammate Derrick Favors participated in the USA Basketball Men's National team mini-camp in Las Vegas. He was also a member of the 2012 USA Select Team that trained against the 2012 Olympic team.

Perhaps his most significant national team experience came in 2009 when, as a teenager, he played for the USA squad at the U19 World Championships in New Zealand.

Hayward played a key role on the team and helped the Americans earn a gold medal there.

He ranked second on that team in rebounding (5.7) and third in scoring (10.0). He also averaged 1.8 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.4 steals while shooting 41.4 percent (12-for-29) from 3-point range.

He was named to the World Championships' "Best of the Best Team."

Hayward said being involved with USA Basketball is a source of pride for him and an opportunity he doesn't take lightly.

"It's something I've been working toward and hopefully one day making the national team," he said. "It started when I was on the younger team and every time I go there I just try to do my best and work hard."

Hayward will be joined on the initial roster by former Weber State star Damian Lillard, now of the Portland Trail Blazers and former Jazz players Deron Williams, now with Brooklyn, and Kyle Korver, now with Atlanta.

In addition the other players selected to the USA National Team roster include: LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland), Carmelo Anthony (New York), Bradley Beal (Washington), Tyson Chandler (New York), DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento), Stephen Curry (Golden State), Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Andre Drummond (Detroit), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City), Kenneth Faried (Denver), Paul George (Indiana), Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers), James Harden (Houston), Dwight Howard (Houston), Andre Iguodala (Golden State), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland), LeBron James (Miami), David Lee (Golden State); Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio), Kevin Love (Minnesota), Chris Paul (L.A. Clippers), Derrick Rose (Chicago), Klay Thompson (Golden State) and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City).

Although he could be added later, Favors, who missed the Jazz's loss to Minnesota on Tuesday, was not named to the initial USA roster. Also missing was point guard John Wall of the Washington Wizards, whom the Jazz will play host to Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena.

The 2014-16 USA Basketball National Team coaching staff is led by longtime Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams are assistants.

Currently in his fourth NBA season, Hayward is Utah's leading scorer this season, averaging 17.3 points per game. He also leads the Jazz in minutes (36.1 per game) and ranks second in assists (4.9) and third in rebounding (5.4).

The 23-year-old was in the ninth overall selection in the 2010 NBA draft.

A smaller group of U.S. National Team members will be selected to participate in the 2014 USA National Team's opening training camp in July.

The exact training dates and locations will be announced in the future.

 

Contact reporter Jim Burton at 801-625-4265, or at jburton@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @StandardExJimbo.

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