Malik Price-Martin Brings Confidence, 3x3 Experience To USA U17 Training Camp
This week at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., 28 of the nation's best players age 17-years-old or younger are participating in the 2012 USA Basketball Men's U17 World Championship Team training camp, where they are competing for one of 12 roster spots on the 2012 USA Basketball Men's U17 World Championship Team. Among them is Malik Price-Martin, a 6'9" forward/center from Florida.
The mix of players includes USA Basketball veterans, newcomers and those who are trying for a second time to make a USA Basketball roster. With two practices each day, the official, 12-member squad is expected to be announced on the afternoon of June 17.
"I feel pretty good," Price-Martin said. "I feel confident about making the team. I'm really not nervous, I'm just ready to get on the floor and play."
Price-Martin's confidence is not for nothing, he said he he has been training hard in preparation for this camp.
"I feel like I came in ready for training camp. My spring has been really busy. I've been working out a lot and playing in a lot of tournaments and camps. I've been working on my game and what I need to do to get better.
"It should be a really intense training camp. I know I'm going to bring my part to the table."
This is not Price-Martin's first experience with USA Basketball. He was named to the 2011 USA Basketball Men's U16 National Team last summer, but withdrew due to his brother's death, which occurred just after the team was named on June 12, 2011.
"I just felt like I had to be there for my family," Price-Martin said of his decision to withdraw from the team. "Basketball wasn't really my main priority - just being there for my dad, that was the right thing to do. I felt like that's what I needed to do, so I made that choice."
A few months later, Price-Martin got a second chance. Named to the USA Men's 3x3 Youth World Championship Team, he competed for the red, white and blue in the inaugural FIBA 3x3 Youth World Championship Sept. 9-11 in Rimini, Italy. Three-on-three basketball is played in a halfcourt, with a 12-second shot clock. The first team to 21 points or the leader after two five-minute periods is the winner.
"You have to be smarter and use your time wisely," Price-Martin said of 3x3 basketball. "You have to have a high basketball I.Q. to play that. You get tired really fast, so you can't waste your energy not doing something good."
With four players allowed on each country's roster in 3x3 basketball, the competitions feature strong teams from nations not known to be basketball powers. While New Zealand took home the gold, Bulgaria finished second and host Italy was third. The USA finished in eighth place with a 7-5 record, falling to Canada in its final game of the tournament.
"A lot of things about the competition were surprising," Price-Martin admitted. "The whole experience was just really different. We were playing on a rubber court. We were out of all of our elements, and it was hard to adjust."
Despite the result, Price-Martin said he has fond memories of his experience.
"That was one of the best times of my life -- seeing all of the different countries that were there, greeting them, talking to them and hearing how they live."
The twelve players named to the USA U17 team will have their own set of experiences to remember in the next few weeks. The team will train at the USOTC through June 20 before departing for exhibition games on June 23 and 24 in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, on their way to the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, which will be played June 29-July 8 in Kaunas, Lithuania.
"It would mean a lot to me to make this team," Price-Martin said. "I'm just going to focus on doing what I do best, which is to rebound, run the floor, block shots and play defense. Hopefully that will be enough."