Forward Stanley Johnson knows he has a chance to accomplish something special; win three international gold medals for Team USA.
"You don't go in wanting anything less than a gold medal, especially when you're playing for your country," the 6-foot-7 Arizona men's basketball signee said. "It is an opportunity you cannot waste."
Johnson and Duke signees Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow are the veterans for the U.S. at the FIBA Americas U18 championship. The tournament is Friday through Tuesday at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. Admission is free.
Johnson and Jones earned a gold medal at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 championships and all three won together at the 2012 U17 world championships. Winslow took home gold from the 2013 U19 world championships to give all three two gold medals apiece.
"It's a blessing really," Johnson said. "It's such an honor to represent your country."
It's a message the other Americans with less international success took to heart while they endured a challenging training camp over the past nine days.
"We're not playing for ourselves, we're playing for the name across our chest, so it's all worth it in the end," said Texas signee Myles Turner, a 7-foot center.
The U.S. is 43-2 all-time at this tournament with championship wins in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010 and 2012. The Americans captured silver in 2008 and bronze in 2002.
Some of the top players to have suited up for the USA in the U18 zone championship include: Shareef Abdur-Rahim (1994); Carmelo Anthony (2002); Michael Beasley (2006); Chris Bosh (2002); Dee Brown (2002); Nick Collison (1998); Jonny Flynn (2006); Spencer Hawes (2006); Grant Hill (1990); Allan Houston (1990); Andre Iguodala (2002); Kyrie Irving (2010); Stephon Marbury (1994); Mike Miller (1998); Quentin Richardson (1998); Austin Rivers (2010); Kyle Singler (2006); Marcus Smart (2012); Jarnell Stokes (2012); Rasheed Sulaimon (2012); Kemba Walker (2008); and Deron Williams (2002).
2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship
All games at Olympic Training Center, Sports Center I