Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller play well at Team USA Camp


Team USA once again convened last week in Colorado Springs, Colorado for a USA Basketball mini-camp. Led by Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, USA Basketball hosted the mini-camp for 27 NBA players with hopes of donning the red, white and blue for the 2014 Basketball World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. Some of the biggest names at the camp included the past three draft’s number one picks, like Anthony Davis, and all five members of the 2012-2013 NBA All Rookie team. There were two former Tar Heels in attendance in Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller. Both played well in the mini-camp and made their case for an invite onto the World Cup and Olympic Rosters.

Jul 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; USA Blue Team forward Harrison Barnes (46) knocks the ball away from USA White team guard Mike Conley during the 2013 USA Basketball Showcase at the Thomas and Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY

Tyler Zeller is also coming off a promising rookie season in Cleveland, where he played well while filling in for injured Cav Anderson Varejao. Cleveland has two new bigs in draft pick Anthony Bennett and free agent Andrew Bynum, so he could be pressed for minutes in his second season. However, there is no doubt Zeller should stick in the league, and this was justified with the invitation to camp. Zeller didn’t play much in the Team USA scrimmage, scoring 8 points and pulling in five boards in just 13 minutes of action. He will have a hard time earning a World Cup roster spot with so many talented USA bigs like Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe, and DeAndre Jordan. The Olympic squads generally take 2-4 big men; the 2012 unit took three true bigs in Tyson Chandler, Davis, and Kevin Love. With power foward and center being such a deep position, it won’t be a matter of talent for Zeller but one of space on the roster. As tough as it will be for Zeller to make those Olympic and World Cup teams, it is a great honor for him and justification of his solid play after his time at UNC.

It was a great summer overall for all the professional Tar Heels. John Henson, Reggie Bullock and others had breakout performances in the NBA’s Summer League, and now Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller both performed well at Team USA’s mini-camp. Hopefully one of those guys can be the first former Tar Heel to represent Team USA at an international competition since Antawn Jamison at the 2006 World Championships.