Matthews, McNeal Selected to Pan Am Games Tryout Roster
June 4, 2007
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal were selected to compete for roster spots on USA Basketball's national team that will compete in the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July. Matthews and McNeal were two of 30 collegiate players selected to take part on the USA Basketball Pan American Games squad trials.
McNeal is coming off a 2005-06 season in which he was named the BIG EAST's Defensive Player of the Year. McNeal led the team with 76 steals on the season, the fifth best single season total in Marquette history. McNeal's per game steal total was the second best in the BIG EAST and he finished 12th on the national steals list. McNeal also earned Rivals.com 2006-07 All-Defensive First Team honors and second team All-BIG EAST honors. He finished the season averaging 14.7 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Matthews was Marquette's third leading scorer in 2006-07, averaging 12.6 points per contests and he was the team's second leading rebounder at 5.3 boards per game. He shot a team best 77.0 percent from the line in helping the Golden Eagles to a 24-10 record and a second-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Trials for the USA Pan American Games Team will be held July 12-14 at Haverford College in Haverford, Pa. The first trials session will be held on Thursday, July 12. Two trials sessions will be held on July 13 and 14. The selected USA team finalists will remain for the USA's July 15-21 training camp.
Marquette was one six schools to send two players each to the tryout. Alabama, Duke, Kansas, Oregon and Washington State also has two representatives on the tryout squad.
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim was the chair of the committee that made the selections for USA Basketball. Villanova head coach Jay Wright will serve as the head coach of the 2007 USA Basketball Pan American team. He will be assisted by Alabama head coach MArk Gottfried and Yale head coach James Jones.
The XV Pan American Games begin July 13 and conclude July 29. The men's basketball competition will feature eight nations -- Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Panama, Puerto Rico, the United States, Uruguay and the Virgin Islands. The United States plays Uruguay on July 25, Panama on July 26 and Argentina on July 27 in pool play. The semifinals are scheduled for July 28 and the gold and bronze medal games will be held on July 29.
The United States finished fourth in the XIV Pan American Games in 2003, going 2-3. The last time a U.S. men's basketball team won gold at the Pan American Games was in 1983. The U.S. has won gold in men's basketball eight times in Pan American Games history.