Last week, it was reported that Donovan Mitchell had been one of the top performers of Team USA’s camp prior to the FIBA World Cup. This week, it seems fitting that news broke that Mitchell will be named a captain for Team USA in the World Cup, alongside Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart.
This was reported by The Associated Press via ESPN yesterday afternoon prior to Team USA’s exhibition game against Australia, announced seemingly casually by Kemba Walker.
But Walker, who last month joined Boston after eight seasons in Charlotte, said criticism of the U.S. team was spurring its players on ahead of its title defense in China.
”We don’t care. We want to be here and are putting in the time to be here and we definitely take that as motivation,’’ Walker said Wednesday. “We have a bunch of guys who don’t mind being the underdogs. We are hungry, and we are going to go out there to try and win a gold medal.’’
Walker said he, Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and Celtics guard Marcus Smart would share the captaincy duties.
”I take pride in being a leader and guys looking to me and I’m here to set the tempo and bring my experience and energy,’’ he said.
This really comes as no huge surprise, as Mitchell had one of the best camps of anyone on the roster, and has been a visible leader on the court during Team USA’s first couple of matches.
Team USA Assistant Coach Lloyd Pierce also spoke about Mitchell’s leadership in a NY Times piece written by Marc Stein.
“I think, right off the bat, he’s a stud,” Pierce said. “He’s taken on a leadership role right from the start. He’s very vocal in our meetings. We’re playing him some at point guard and he’s defending some on the ball. He’s just a confident, vocal, natural leader.”
This will be a great experience for Mitchell, being a captain and leader on a team that is favored to win a World Cup. At age 22 and with just two NBA seasons under his belt, this is just another example of the great player and person that Mitchell is, and the legend that he is set to become.