Grant Hill played on five USA Basketball teams and compiled a 26-1 record. Now as its managing director, the 2018 Basketball Hall of Famer, seven-time NBA All-Star, and Duke star is leading the men’s national team into its preparation for international competition this summer.
Hill succeeded Jerry Colangelo in 2021.
Asked during a recent media call how things have been going thus far, Hill told the MSR, “I understood when taking this job that it would be challenging and certainly not ceremonial. The expectations are tremendous. Anything less than gold is looked upon as a failure. I’m aware of that.
“Certainly, a lot of work goes into giving ourselves a chance to win gold,” he stressed. “I love the challenge.”
The U.S. men’s team, as has been the case since 1992, will primarily consist of NBA players. With the exception of 2004, USA Basketball has won the gold medal in all international competition.
“The international game is very, very different than our game here in the States,” explained Hill. “There’s greater physicality. I think the officiating allows you to play. I think the international game is really about precise execution.
“There’s a requirement on the defensive end to be disciplined,” Hill pointed out, adding that it’s important that the bigs on the team “have versatility that they can switch, they can guard smaller players on the perimeter. Bigs have to have a comfort level being outside on the perimeter, whether it’s shooting 3-pointers, handling the ball, dribble handoffs. It’s a different game.”
“I think guard play is essential,” continued Hill. “We do have some talented young guards in the league.”
Hill reaffirmed that it is no longer a requisite that NBA players make a long-term commitment in order to make the USA team. “I know that Jerry [Colangelo] set that standard that if you want to be a part of the Olympic team, you have to put in some sort of investment with either the training camps or be on the national team prior to that summer,” noted Hill.
“There’s been a little bit of a generational shift that’s occurred in the league, and basketball in general. I think we have to be willing to adapt and adjust to the times, and adapt to players today.”
The 2023 USA Men’s National Team is still being formed, but it is scheduled to play exhibition games in Spain and the United Arab Emirates. The first exhibition game is being played in Slovenia (Aug. 12), followed by Spain (Aug. 13) in Malaga, Spain; then in Abu Dhabi against Greece (Aug. 18) and Germany (Aug. 20) in the days leading up to the 2023 FIBA Men’s World Cup.
“We just have to put together and assemble the right pieces, the right fit,” said Hill. “A lot of these international teams have been playing together for decades and there’s a familiarity. They know each other and each other’s tendencies.
“It’s not just assembling a roster, but it’s really bonding and coming together as a team,” added Hill. “We have our work cut out for us.”
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