With the start of the First Four on Tuesday at UD Arena, Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant said he is itching for some competition.
He won’t have to wait too much longer.
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Less than a week after his first season at UD ended, Grant was announced Tuesday to the USA Basketball U-18 national team coaching staff as an assistant to Bill Self (Kansas), along with Wake Forest coach Danny Manning.
Team USA will compete in the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men June 11-17 in St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada, on its quest for a fifth straight gold medal in FIBA Americas competition and a chance to qualify for next year’s U-19 World Cup.
“I’m excited to have a chance to be back with USA Basketball,” Grant said in a press conference Tuesday at UD Arena. “I had a chance to do it a few years back, and it was a great experience. For me, any time you get a chance to wear the Red, White and Blue and represent your country, it’s a special deal. The opportunity to work with coach Self and coach Manning, I’m really looking forward to that. And the young men we’ll have a chance to work with will be a very talented group, so as a coach, these are great opportunities that I don’t take for granted. It’s an honor to be a part of USA Basketball.”
He added, “This time of year obviously I wish my team was still playing, I wish we were still competing. To get a chance here in the summer to experience that competition, a chance to help our team qualify, a chance to build relationships. That’s what this is all about.”
Grant returns to USA Basketball after having served as an assistant for the 2008 USA Men’s U18 National Team, which finished 4-1 and won a silver medal.
That experience was with current Davidson head coach Bob McKillop and former Georgetown coach John Thompson III, who is now on the USA Basketball senior team staff. Players included the likes of current Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green, Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee and Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker.
Grant said he most remembers the relationships he built with the staff and players, many that he ran into later on through coaching college basketball, but in a way he also feels like he has some unfinished business to complete in his return.
“We share some laughs about our time with USA Basketball,” Grant said. “USA does a great job with their organization, the way they put their teams together, what they expose kids to, the way they go about preparation for competition, so those things stood out to me. I wish we would have been able to win the championship game, we lost to Argentina and we got silver, so I would like to bring back gold and finish the job.”
While his focus will be on helping Team USA, Grant said it also can be a learning experience he can apply to his full-time job. As far as potentially recruiting young players he comes in contact through USA Basketball tryouts and competition, Grant said “that is the furthest thing from your mind when you get a chance to do something like this.”
In his first season as the head coach at his alma mater Dayton, Grant and the Flyers finished 14-17. His USA Basketball commitment is about a four-week time span beginning in May, according to Grant, who is 207-127 over 10 seasons overall, which included stints at VCU (2006-09) and Alabama (2009-15).
“This is my 10th season as a head coach, so every year you try to put your team in position to become the best version of themselves,” Grant said. “This year, I think we learned a lot about what we have, who we are and what we need to be looking at doing going forward, so I’m excited about the future of Dayton basketball. I’m excited about the group of young men that we’ll have a chance to coach next year, that we currently have. I’m excited about the group we’ll add to our roster. I’m just looking forward to building our program and putting Dayton in a position where we’ve been before, where we’re competing for championships, where we’re in the NCAA Tournament and we’re looking at making runs in the NCAA Tournament.”