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USA Basketball in FIBA ​​U18 championships: UNC recruits shine

UNC class of 2022 recruit Seth Trimble, the younger brother of former Tar Heels forward JP Tokoto, advances the ball during practice for USA Basketball's under-18 national team.  Team USA is competing in the FIBA ​​U18 Americas Championships in Tijuana, Mexico from June 6-12.

UNC class of 2022 recruit Seth Trimble, the younger brother of former Tar Heels forward JP Tokoto, advances the ball during practice for USA Basketball’s under-18 national team. Team USA is competing in the FIBA ​​U18 Americas Championships in Tijuana, Mexico from June 6-12.

USA Basketball

A year ago when Seth Trimble and GG Jackson both attended the NBA players association (NBPA) Top 100 camp for elite basketball recruits, they had little reason to speak, apart from a head nod of acknowledgment when they crossed paths.

This week as teammates on USA Basketball’s under-18 national team in the FIBA ​​Americas U18 championships, they were roommates exchanging their hoop dreams in Carolina blue detail.

Trimble, the No. 35 overall recruit in 247 Sports Composite rankings, will arrive in Chapel Hill next week as part of North Carolina’s recruiting class of 2022. Jackson, who became the highest ranked recruit under UNC coach Hubert Davis when he committed in April, is currently ranked No. 2 overall in the class of 2023.

“Definitely, we’ve just been imagining ourselves in the light blue jersey going up for a dunk and stuff like that,” Jackson said. “We’re always just talking about it so I’ve been begging him and begging him to make sure he stays ’til I get there next year. We’re trying to build a powerhouse team at Carolina.”

For Trimble, that starts in a week when he arrives on campus. Early on during his recruitment, he thought he’d only be playing with one returning guard between Caleb Love and RJ Davis. When both decided to come back for their junior years, it put a lot less pressure on Trimble to have to contribute immediately.

The 6-foot-2 guard from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin said he’s looking forward to learning from Love and Davis what it means to play point guard at Carolina.

“Oh, it’s a huge standard that I want to live up to,” Trimble said. “There’s been so many great point guards that have come through this program, and so many that I’ve been able to watch over the past years. So I just want to come in and continue that tradition.”

Jackson, like Trimble, was in New Orleans to witness UNC’s run to the national championship game in person. Jackson was participating in a USA Basketball camp and saw the Heels’ win over Duke in the semifinals before returning home to Columbia, SC

Jackson said watching how the season unfolded, and how the team took Davis in his first season as head coach, was part of the reason he committed.

“Getting a new coach, you definitely have to learn a lot and kind of switch up a little bit,” Jackson said. “But once they came together, you saw it. It was amazing. So it definitely shows that I can trust coach Davis from what he tells me.”

gghuddle.jpg
UNC class of 2023 commitment GG Jackson (No. 51) huddles with teammates during tryouts for USA Basketball’s under-18 national team that is competing at the FIBA ​​U18 Americas Championships in Tijuana, Mexico from June 6-12. USA Basketball

They’ve helped continue a pretty amazing run by USA Basketball in the FIBA ​​championships in Tijuana, Mexico. The US, which currently owns a 62-2 all-time record in the event, is aiming to capture its 10th gold medal in 12 tries.

Team USA won its opening three games in pool play against the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Puerto Rico by an average margin of 65 points heading into Friday’s quarterfinal game against Mexico.

The team is coached by Colorado’s Tad Boyle, with Oklahoma State’s Mike Boynton and Boise State’s Leon Rice. They’ve rotated starting lineups, which has also included Duke 2023 commit Jared McCain, each game.

Trimble and Jackson both started in their 123-41 win over Ecuador. Jackson, a 6-foot-8 forward, turned in one of the best individual performances of the tournament so far with 20 points and 12 rebounds. His highlights from him included a windmill dunk on a fast break that went viral.

Jackson said he wanted to work on developing a more consistent jumper, and to get his dribbling to a point where he doesn’t have to look for an outlet every time he grabs a rebound, but can instead be trusted to initiate a fast break himself .

Both players agreed they’re using this time in international competition to soak up as much as they can.

“There’s just so much that I’m gonna be able to learn and take to coach Davis where he can just expand that,” Trimble said.

Trimble is well-versed in Carolina’s tradition—his big brother made sure of that. Former UNC forward JP Tokoto, who played from 2012-2015, has schooled his little brother on what to expect and what pitfalls to avoid.

“I expect nothing is going to be easy,” Trimble said. “The second I come into it, I’ll have to make an adjustment, but I expect myself to get comfortable right away.”

When the FIBA ​​championships conclude, Jackson said he’ll play for Team CP3, Chris Paul’s grassroots team, during summer basketball and will again participate in the NBPA’s Top 100 camp.

He’s a lot more comfortable having announced his commitment before his senior year of high school.

“It’s like a lot of weight off my chest, your phone stops ringing — it definitely still rings but not as much as it did when you’re not committed,” Jackson said. “I feel like I can now focus on building a closer relationship with the UNC coaches now, learning what I can from them so when I get there, I can dominate.”

This story was originally published June 10, 2022 10:36 AM.

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CL Brown covers the University of North Carolina for The News & Observer. Brown brings more than two decades of reporting experience including stints as the beat writer on Indiana University and the University of Louisville. After a long stay at the Louisville Courier-Journal, where he earned an APSE award, he’s had stops at ESPN.com, The Athletic and even tried his hand at running his own website, clbrownhoops.com.

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