LOS ANGELES (AP) — De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings surprisingly withdrew from USA Basketball’s national team Saturday, meaning the Americans now have 13 candidates for the 12-man World Cup roster.
Fox told USA Basketball of his choice a few hours before the team was to fly to Australia for final preparations for this month’s tournament in China. Fox was in the team’s plans for the Australia trip, and it was believed he would have been a strong candidate for the World Cup squad.
Fox played a team-low six minutes in the Americans’ 90-81 win over Spain in a pre-World Cup exhibition at Anaheim, California, on Friday night. He had two points and one assist, and the U.S. outscored Spain by 10 points in his brief stints on the floor.
After the game, he gave no indication he was thinking about leaving the team.
“It’s playing for your country and at the highest level,” Fox told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s us growing together as we try and take the next step in our careers.”
Hours later, Fox was headed in a different direction.
Fox was picked last month to be on USA Basketball’s select team — the young players brought in to scrimmage during training camp in Las Vegas against the national-team candidates, with the understanding that any of the select squad members could be elevated to the varsity.
Fox never even made it to the select team. He was pulled into practice with the national team from the outset of camp, and had 12 points, three rebounds and three assists in the intrasquad scrimmage Aug. 9.
“He has incredible speed,” USA Basketball coach Gregg Popovich said during training camp. “I’m thinking and hoping that people have a hard time staying in front of him. He’s got a high intelligence level, he shoots it well enough and he wanted to be here. So all those things came together in us inviting him and he’s played well.”
Then Fox changed ultimately changed his mind, and became the latest player to pull out of World Cup consideration.