Team USA will be stocked, that's for sure. Whether it blends into a cohesive unit that can restore American basketball dominance is a question that remains to be answered.
National team czar Jerry Colangelo told ESPN.com he has been "stunned' by the level of interest he has received in more than two dozen face-to-face interviews with players he wants to put on the national team roster.
With another six or seven meetings still to take place, Colangelo said he has received 18 solid commitments. In addition, agents for seven other players have called Colangelo to say their clients are eager to sacrifice their next three summers to take part in what Colangelo describes as his "mission" -- the effort to build a national team capable of winning gold medals at the 2006 World Championship in Japan and the 2008 Beijing Olympics in China.
Colangelo plans to announce a core group of players, as few as four and as many as eight, sometime around the All-Star break. Formal invitations eventually will be extended to 20 to attend training camp in Las Vegas in mid-July. The World Championship will run from Aug. 19 to Sept. 3, with the U.S. team playing its opening-round games in the northern city of Sapporo, with the opponents to be determined by draw on Sunday.
The United States is coming off disappointing finishes in the last two major international tournaments, a bronze medal showing at the Athens Olympics and a sixth-place failure at the 2002 World Championship in Indianapolis.
In Colangelo's meetings thus far with 25 players, some have expressed surprise that they might actually have to go through what would amount to a tryout. Colangelo has told players he's not forcing anyone to do anything, but anyone who believes it would be beneath him to fight for a roster spot won't be welcome. Colangelo is also laying down a few laws, such as banning families and entourages during the opening round of the World Championship and pretournament trips to China and South Korea.
"I think the response I've had has been stunning, and I think it's a compliment to our NBA players' buying into the philosophy of playing for their country," Colangelo said. "Pride is a factor, because they're not happy with where USA Basketball is at the moment, and they want to change that."
Colangelo would not divulge which players have given him their word, although public comments and Insider insight have combined to produce a reading on where more than 50 of the top American players stand:
Ray Allen: The best pure shooter holding a U.S. passport is one of the last players Colangelo will meet with. Played for U.S. in 2000 and 2003, withdrew from 2004 team due to security concerns. Might have a hard time coexisting peacefully with Kobe Bryant.