Big Summer For Kentucky-Bound Tyrese Maxey With USA Basketball & Peach Jam

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Tyrese Maxey has never been out of the United States, but that will change this weekend.

The 6-foot-2 guard from Dallas (TX) South Garland High School will travel to St. Catharines, Ontario, with the U.S. U18 team to compete in the FIBA Americas Championship beginning Sunday evening. 

"I can’t wait to get out the country for the first time, it sounds fun,” the class of 2019 Kentucky commit said this week by phone from the USA Basketball training facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. "I’ve been almost everywhere in the United States, but I’ve never left the United States so it should be fun.”

Maxey was named this week to the USA’s 12-man roster for the event that will try to win gold in Canada. He joins an elite group of guards that includes Cole Anthony, Ayo Dosunmu, Quentin Grimes, Josiah James, Mark “Rocket” Watts, and Coby White — many of whom will also be at the EYBL finals later this summer.

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“Tyrese is a dog, so I'm happy that both of us could be here,” Anthony said. “I like playing with him.”

Anthony added: “He brings a lot of energy. He can score the basketball, long arms, just elite . . . He can shoot it. I really like his game, I’m a fan."

Maxey, 17, recently committed to Kentucky for 2019 but will play for Kansas coach Bill Self on the U18 team.

“He just had a big speech to us about how this is getting us ready for the next level,” Maxey said of Self. “I feel like he’s right about that. I’m very grateful to have him to get ready for the next level, even before my senior year of high school.”

Self, in turn, wants his guards to push the tempo beginning with Sunday night’s game against the Dominican Republic.

“The biggest thing that we have to do is create pace and tempo,” Self said. “Not only offensively, but through our defense as well."

Kentucky coach John Calipari, who last year coached the USA U19 team in the FIBA World Championship in Egypt, has also been checking in with Maxey.

Kentucky figures to have some experience returning for the 2018-19 season with Quade Green, Nick Richards, and P.J. Washington coming back to school and joining a freshman group that includes Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, E.J. Montgomery, and Immanuel Quickley.

Kentucky is also in the mix for Stanford graduate transfer Reid Travis, who's considering Kentucky and Villanova. 

Ashton Hagans has also committed to Kentucky and is working toward reclassifying for the upcoming season. 

“I feel like they could be really good, especially because they’re going on a trip to the Bahamas [in August],” Maxey said. “And the last time Kentucky went on a trip they won a national championship. So [Calipari] is going to get that extra week with his guys and I feel like we’re going to be very special."

Meantime, Maxey has a big summer ahead.

He’s looking forward to the Canada trip and to trying to bring back another gold medal for the U.S.

“It feels great,” said Maxey, who has been rooming in Colorado with Jeremiah Earl-Robinson. “I’m honored to be able to go compete for my country and represent my country in a good way. Bring back the gold.”

After that, he will compete with his Houston Hoops team at the Peach Jam July 11-15 in North Augusta, South Carolina.

“I’m going to go to Canada, come back home, go to a volleyball tournament [in Detroit] with my sister and go to Peach Jam and The 8 in Vegas,” he said. “After that get ready to go back to school.”

As for Peach Jam, he is one of eight USA finalists with Nike EYBL experience. 

“We have one goal, and that’s to win it," he said of Peach Jam. “We’ve done a really special thing as far as going 12-4 without any practice because I live in Dallas and coach [Tim] Schumacher is in Houston so we really haven’t gotten to practice at all throughout the four sessions. But we want to practice a lot before Peach Jam, which I feel will help us be a lot better.”

First things first.

Canada awaits. And Maxey has been preparing for this trip since last fall.

“I’ve never been out the country,” he said. “I got my passport ready at the beginning of November."


Adam Zagoria is a basketball insider who runs ZAGSBLOG.com and contributes to The New York Times. Follow Adam on Twitter.

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