Coach K: No advantage exists

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said the notion that coaching USA Basketball gives him a recruiting advantage is "utterly ridiculous."

In his first news conference since leading the U.S. men's national team to gold in the FIBA Basketball World Cup, Krzyzewski pushed back against points raised by a Yahoo! Sports column published Monday.

As the head coach of the national team, Krzyzewski has access to the high school players participating on every level of USA Basketball. But, he noted, so do a lot of other college coaches who make up the selection committee as well as coach the actual teams.

Krzyzewski pointed out the participation of Florida's Billy Donovan and Virginia's Tony Bennett in coaching the under-19 team this year.

"No one is saying about him [Donovan] that he has an advantage and he's with those kids for 3½ weeks each summer," Krzyzewski said.

Krzyzewski said that in nine years as head coach of the senior national team, he's spoken to the under-19 team twice, including once last year. Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow, who played on that under-19 team, are now Duke freshmen and part of the Blue Devils' No. 1-ranked class by RecruitingNation. It's the first No. 1 class Krzyzewski has had since becoming the Team USA coach.

"That that [access] gives you an advantage -- it's utterly ridiculous -- and anyone who comments on it without doing the research is really wanting to take that point of view," Krzyzewski said. "I don't get it. I don't get it. We've won four national championships."

He also has two Olympic gold medals and will have the favorites in 2016.

That success is the reason Krzyzewski said any advantages are being discussed.

"On Aug. 24, 2008, and the score is 91-89 in the gold-medal game against Spain, if Kobe Bryant doesn't hit a couple shots, and Dwyane Wade -- do you think I'd have an advantage? Because we would lose," Krzyzewski said. "The point I'm making is anybody who wins ... they have an advantage. But it's advantage through accomplishment."

Kentucky coach John Calipari said in a series of tweets Thursday that he wouldn't hold it against Krzyzewski if he did gain an advantage.

Krzyzewski said he would like veteran NBA players to continue to participate on the national team. He said the higher-ups in the NBA were "100 percent in favor of continuing" with an open-ended selection pool.

He understands that changes to qualifying occur and that the NBA will re-evaluate. But he doesn't see the need to limit the senior national team to players 22 and under.

"Younger players are involved with all the other competitions," he said. "There's 19 and under, University Games, 18, 17. There's a lot of competitions going on, so I don't understand, really, the call for 22. What level is that?"

Krzyzewski ended his news conference after taking exception to the notion he somehow orchestrated a picture that went viral of him hugging Paul George in the hospital. The Indiana Pacers star suffered a broken leg while playing in a Team USA exhibition game.

Krzyzewski said he had to sneak in through the back of the building to avoid cameras and joined a small group that included George's immediate family. He believes George's sister took the picture of the moment and posted it on social media.

"To say I orchestrated that is really wrong, and if you want to think that, then you are a bad person," Krzyzewski said. "That was done secretly. For someone to put it out that way, you're really reaching."