Jun 16, 2013 4:30 PM by UL Sports Information
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - After three days of intense practices at the U.S. Olympics Training Center, Ragin' Cajuns junior guard Elfrid Payton is one of 16 players that were named as finalists for the USA Basketball U19 team that will represent the United States in the FIBA World Championships. The championships will be played from June 27-July 7 in Prague, Czech Republic. The announcement was made by USA Basketball on Sunday morning.
The final 12-player team is expected to be announced on Monday evening (June 17).
Payton was one of two players added to the 26-player roster on June 11th. The team is being coached by Florida's Billy Donovan with Tony Bennett (Virginia) and Shaka Smart (VCU) serving as assistant coaches.
"The last couple of days have been both exciting and challenging," Payton said. "To play with and against some of the best players in the country has been outstanding.
"I have been impressed with the speed and intensity of the camp. I have been able to keep up and do the things that the coaches have asked me to do. It is hard to keep your wind at this elevation, but I am learning to adapt.
"I am looking forward to the next couple of days. I want to represent my country in the world championships," Payton added.
"I couldn't be prouder of how Elfrid has represented himself and the University this weekend," Louisiana head coach Bob Marlin said. "I have spoken with the USA Basketball coaching staff several times over the weekend and they have been impressed with his maturity and willingness to be a team player."
Joining Payton as USA U19 finalists are Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova); Damyean Dotson (Oregon); Michael Frazier (Florida); Marcus Georges-Hunt (Georgia Tech); Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty H.S., San Jose, Calif.); Jerami Grant (Syracuse); Montrezl Harrell (Louisville); Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S., Chicago, Ill.); James Robinson (Pittsburgh); Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State); Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee); Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke); Mike Tobey (Virginia); Nigel Williams-Goss (Findlay Prep, Happy Valley, Ore.); and Justise Winslow (St. Johns H.S., Houston, Texas).
Payton will remain in Colorado Springs and practice for the next four days. The team will travel to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, June 19, where it will practice until leaving for the Czech Republic on Saturday (June 22).
In Prague, the USA Basketball team will play exhibition games against Croatia (June 24) and the Czech Republic (June 25) before opening tournament play against the Ivory Coast on June 27.
USA Basketball will play as many as nine games in the tournament, leading up to the championship game on Sunday, July 7.
Payton is coming off of a record-setting sophomore campaign that saw him become the only player in the nation to average 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals per game. He averaged a team-high 15.9 points and 5.5 assists and 2.4 steals per game, ranking second with 5.6 rebounds en route to earning first team All-Sun Belt, first team NABC All-District 24 and second team All-Louisiana honors.
Payton finished the year leading the Sun Belt Conference in both steals and assists, ranking 12th nationally in steals and 38th in assists. He was also fourth in the league in scoring and 18th in rebounds.
A starter in all 33 games, Payton ranks third in school history with 80 steals this year while his 181 assists were fourth-best. With two full seasons left to play, he already ranks 18th all-time with 117 steals and 278 assists.
Last month, Payton averaged 21.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 3.0 steals during a seven-game cultural exchange of the Far East and China with Reach USA, scoring 20 points or more and leading the team in scoring five times.
(Image Courtesy: Steven Maikoski, USA Basketball)