As teenagers begin to enjoy the days of summer and head out on vacation, chances are it cannot compare to the adventures of recent King Philip graduate Jake Layman. During the month of June, Layman was a member of USA Basketball's under-18 team for the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. It was an invitation that surprised no one more than Layman. The invite meant a chance to play for University of Florida men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan plus Gonzaga coach Mark Few and Virginia Commonwealth University coach Shaka Smart.
“I was surprised when I got invited,” Layman said prior to the tournament. “It’s awesome being under coach Donovan, Shaka Smart and coach Few. They’re all great coaches so it’s awesome getting to be coached by them.”
To anyone that has seen him play for even a minute, his talent as a basketball player is obvious but to be invited to play for your country represents talent that is rarely seen.
The experience was Layman’s first venture into international basketball of any sorts. It was only a year earlier that he was playing AAU basketball and now he was one of 12 athletes representing America in the FIBA run tournament.
Layman made himself known in the first game of the tournament when he picked up seven points and a game high 10 rebounds in the 105-42 win over the US Virgin Islands.
Layman’s biggest game came the next day against Mexico. Getting 16 minutes of playing time, Layman scored a game high 18 points and went 3-5 from three point territory as Team USA blew out Mexico 110-59. Showing off his abilities down low in the previous game, this was a chance for Layman to use one of his other strengths behind the arc.
With 10 points in the semi-finals against Argentina, Layman continued to contribute to a team that went through the tournament with little issue. While he did not get much playing time in the team’s 81-56 win over Brazil in the championship, the thrill of winning is still there and there is no denying that his contributions helped Team USA get in a position to win the gold medal.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, we got what we came here for. We worked hard coming into it and that hard work paid off,” Layman said about winning the gold medal.
With a gold medal around his neck, the University of Maryland is next for the soon to be college freshman. It is going to be quite a jump for Layman going from the small KP gym that seats 600 to Maryland’s home court at the Comcast Center which seats 17,950. With that being said, anyone that is asked to play for their country in international competition must be prepared for the bright lights of Division I basketball.
Quotes courtesy of Team USA’s quote sheets from the tournament.