BY MICHAEL KELLY
Kevin Huerter, a 17-year-old from Clifton Park, helped the USA Basketball men’s U18 national team to a gold medal at the July 19-23 FIBA Americas U18 Championship tournament in Chile.
The USA defeated Canada 99-84 in the tournament’s championship game.
“You know, it’s unreal. It’s not like anything else,” Huerter said of contributing to the tournament victory, according to a press release from USA Basketball. “A huge sense of pride for our country right now. It’s been an exciting time.”
In five games with the USA team, the 2016 Shenendehowa graduate scored 34 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished six assists and had five steals. In all, he played 85 minutes.
Huerter’s best game came in pool play against Chile, a 70-50 win. He scored the USA’s final basket of the first quarter to trim the team’s deficit to 14-9 before making all four 3-pointers he attempted as the USA surged to lead 30-27 at halftime.
“That was huge, because we were struggling to make shots,” USA head coach Shaka Smart said of Huerter’s shooting. “We were not getting the ball inside as much as we wanted to; they were packing it in. Kevin went in, and he changed the whole complexion of the game. In fact, he changed the game so much that they went to a box-and-one for the rest of the game when he was in, which made it easier for our other guys. He was definitely the MVP on the offensive end tonight.”
The USA never trailed in the second half, as Huerter finished tied with a game-high 14 points.
In the 20 minutes Huerter played that night, the USA outscored Chile by 20 points. That mark was a best for a player in the game.