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Grant Hill On USA Basketball: Things Will Change

As they always do

Big Ten Basketball Tournament - Championship
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MARCH 12: CBS analyst Grant Hill looks on prior to the Big Ten Basketball Tournament Championship between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Penn State Nittany Lions at United Center on March 12, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Duke legend Grant Hill wears a lot of hats: he’s part owner of the Atlanta Hawks, he broadcast in the Final Four - shoot, they ran his hotel ad and then cut right back to him - and he's heading up USA Basketball.

And that’s very different now than it was under Jerry Colangelo.

For one, the pandemic disrupted the overall program. For another, he recognizes that getting players to make a multi-year commitment is not easy these days. Things have just changed, he said, and he is changing the approach to reflect that.

The problem is now back to what it always was, pre-Colangelo and Coach K: how do you get a bunch of individualistic NBA players to work as a team with minimal time together?

The rest of the world doesn’t have that problem.

There is an American template though, and Dean Smith laid it out back in 1976, when he took Tar Heels Phil Ford, Walter Davis and Mitch Kupchak, along with ACC rivals Steve Sheppard, Tate Armstrong and Kenny Carr, along with some other great players.

But the ACC players were the key. The UNC guys understood his system and the other ACC players knew it well enough.

You could do the same thing now with, say, the New Orleans Pelicans, assuming Zion Williamson was healthy: take Williamson, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum and Trey Jones as the core group and build around them. Take Willie Green as an assistant (assuming Gregg Popovich is back).

The rest of the Krzyzewski formula - athleticism, defense and transition basketball - would still work.

It won’t ever be easy again - just look at how many great international players are in the NBA now and know that Joel Embiid and rising star Victor Wembanyana could both play for France - but the US advantages are still there and will be for some time.