Wake Forest's Aminu pulls out of U19 trials

June, 12, 2009
Wake Forest freshman sensation Al-Farouq Aminu never declared for the NBA draft, with the intention that he needed to improve his game a bit before becoming a pro.

His plan was to try out for, and likely make, the FIBA USA U19 team that is led by Pitt's Jamie Dixon and assisted by Purdue's Matt Painter and Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery. But earlier this week, Aminu decided to pull out of the trials -- scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday in Colorado Springs, Colo. -- for family reasons.

Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said Aminu will work out with the rest of the Demon Deacons' squad during the second summer session in Winston-Salem.

Aminu is the second high-profile player to withdraw from the trials in the past few weeks. Connecticut freshman guard Kemba Walker withdrew to go to summer school in Storrs. Walker was the MVP of the FIBA Americas event last summer, in which the Americans won silver in the qualifying tournament for the championships, July 2-12 in New Zealand.

USA Basketball officials confirmed Friday that Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs was added to the roster, as was Butler's Shelvin Mack. The rest of the players trying out for the 12 spots next week include:
Kenny Boynton (Florida)
Darryl Bryant (West Virginia)
DeAngelo Casto and Klay Thompson (Washington State)
Seth Curry (Duke)
Drew Gordon (UCLA)
Gordon Hayward (Butler)
Darius Miller (Kentucky)
Arnett Moultrie (UTEP)
Ralph Sampson III (Minnesota)
John Shurna (Northwestern)
Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas)
Howard Thompkins (Georgia)
Terrico White (Ole Miss)

Illinois coach Bruce Weber and USA Basketball officials confirmed that Mike Tisdale replaced Mike Davis on the World University Games tryout roster for next week, as well. Davis broke his ankle last week while working out.

Weber, who is on the USA Basketball selection committee and will be in the Springs next week, said Davis will be able to lift weights to put necessary weight and strength on his frame during his six-to-eight-week recovery.

Tisdale was an alternate when the tryout roster was selected. The World University Games team, which will compete in Serbia on July 2-11, is coached by Wisconsin's Bo Ryan and assisted by Miami's Frank Haith and Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Rob Jeter. Weber said Tisdale should fit in well in Ryan's swing offense since he likes his big guys to be versatile. The 7-foot-1 Tisdale, who was fourth on the team in scoring last season at 10.2 ppg, could use even more game experience in preparation for a more demonstrative role with the Illini in 2009-10.

Here are the rest of the players trying out for the 12 spots:
James Anderson (Oklahoma State)
Talor Battle (Penn State)
Trevor Booker (Clemson)
Craig Brackins (Iowa State)
Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia)
Sherron Collins (Kansas)
Corey Fisher (Villanova)
Lazar Hayward (Marquette)
Robbie Hummel and JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)
Dominique Jones (South Florida)
Quincy Pondexter (Washington)
Deon Thompson (North Carolina)
Evan Turner (Ohio State)
Jarvis Varnado (Mississippi State)
Nic Wise (Arizona)

Arizona coach Sean Miller had said Wise would try out for the squad if he withdrew from the NBA draft. Miller proved to be prophetic, as Wise was included on that list. The World University Games team could potentially include eight players who either declared or considered declaring for the draft (Anderson, Booker, Brackins, Butler, Collins, Turner, Varnado and Wise).

• As expected, San Diego State recruit Malcolm Thomas withdrew from the NBA draft. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday that Thomas, who was at San Diego City College after leaving Pepperdine, is expected to be eligible, according to SDSU coach Steve Fisher. Thomas wasn't going to get drafted, but he should be a major impact player for the Aztecs, who hope to be in the mix for the Mountain West title.

• Holy Cross will begin its close examination of candidates hoping to replace Ralph Willard, who left to be Rick Pitino's assistant at Louisville, over the next few days. Holy Cross athletic director Dick Regan would like someone who has head-coaching experience, although he's not limiting his search to only previous head coaches. Regan said he wants to keep the Crusaders' team together, and he anticipates that with four starters back and a banner recruiting class they can contend for the Patriot League title next season. He doesn't want to disrupt that mojo with the new hire.

• The Cancun Challenge announced its bracket for the Nov. 18-25 event, which will feature a possible No. 1 team in Kentucky, in John Calipari's Wildcats debut. The other marquee teams in the event are Virginia (with new coach Tony Bennett), Cleveland State, coming off the first-round win over Wake Forest in the NCAA tournament, and Stanford.

The schedule is as follows:
Nov. 18: Oral Roberts at Stanford
Nov. 19: Sam Houston at Kentucky, Rider at Virginia, Florida A&M at Cleveland State
Nov. 21: Florida A&M at Stanford, Oral Roberts at Virginia Rider at Kentucky, Sam Houston at Cleveland State

The event then moves to Cancun, Mexico on Nov. 24: Kentucky vs. Cleveland State, Virginia vs. Stanford, Florida A&M vs. Rider, Oral Roberts vs. Sam Houston
Nov. 25: Kentucky-Cleveland State winner vs. Virginia-Stanford winner, Kentucky-Cleveland State loser vs. Virginia-Stanford loser, Florida A&M-Rider winner vs. Oral Roberts-Sam Houston winner, FAMU-Rider loser vs. Oral Roberts-Sam Houston loser.

• San Diego coach Bill Grier dealt with a plethora of injuries a year ago after the Toreros beat Connecticut in the NCAA tournament's first round in 2008. So getting the good news that Brandon Johnson received a fifth year of eligibility was welcome. Johnson was the team leader in scoring (13.5 points) and assists (3.6) and steals (1.6) through the first seven games last season before he ruptured his Achilles on Dec. 6.

• Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury coveted a big-time opponent on a neutral floor for next season. He got one when the Wooden Classic extended an invitation for the Bulldogs to play UCLA on Dec. 12 in Anaheim. Washington will play an opponent to be determined in the other game of the doubleheader. But the subplot against the Bruins comes if newcomer forward Renardo Sidney clears all eligibility hurdles. If that's the case, he'll go against the school he supposedly first wanted (UCLA) but chose not to pursue because of perceived baggage. Sidney then committed to USC out of Fairfax High in Los Angeles before getting out of that commitment once the school's administration ran away from him due to any potential potholes like the ones it dealt with during the O.J. Mayo NCAA investigation.The Bulldogs will be the better team in this game and likely ranked in the top 15 with the return of Varnado, guard Barry Stewart and the possibility of Sidney joining the crew.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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