Hawkins finalist for worlds

Sunday, July 12, 1998

The Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Former Xavier star Michael Hawkins is one of 16 finalists for the 12 spots on the U.S. world championship team.

Coach Rudy Tomjanovich made his second-last cut Saturday after three days of hours of practice. His next task is figuring out how to meld his ragtag group of college and CBA players into a team that can compete for a medal.

"Now our focus is how we're going to become a real team. Not an all-star team, not a group of guys from a whole bunch of different parts of the country," Tomjanovich said Saturday. "We've got to become a family."

Duke standout Trajan Langdon and Big Ten player of the year Mateen Cleaves are the biggest names among the 16. Earl Boykins, who, at 5-foot-5 is known as much for his diminutive stature as he is for his ball-handling skills, also made the cut. So did Jimmy King, who was part of Michigan's famed Fab Five and now plays in the CBA.

The other finalists are: Brad Miller; Kiwane Garris; Jimmy Oliver; Wendell Alexis; Tim Breaux; Bill Edwards; Jason Sasser; David Wood; Ashraf Amaya; Warren Kidd; and Gerard King.

Tomjanovich is expected to make one more cut before training camp ends Tuesday. The 1998 FIBA World Championships begin July 29 in Athens, Greece.

USA Basketball initially selected 12 NBA players for the world championship team, but with a lockout looming, the all-stars threatened a boycott.

USA Basketball moved first, announcing June 16 it was dropping the NBA stars and replacing them with current college players, CBA players and Americans playing overseas.

"We're going to do our best to work hard and not have any letdowns of the expectations that we're set with the first team," Jimmy King said. "We want to pick them up like they were never lost."

Most international teams have played together for months, if not years, and some will have NBA players. The U.S. team will have been together three weeks when it takes the floor for the first game.

"You need months to get ready and you're not playing your best basketball until the end of the season," Langdon said. "But we don't have that long, so the group we have has to come together quickly."

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