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Gonzaga-bound Anton Watson makes first cut for USA U19 squad

UPDATED: Tue., June 18, 2019, 3:54 p.m.

Gonzaga Prep’s Anton Watson scores against Mt. Spokane in a Dec. 4 game. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Prep’s Anton Watson scores against Mt. Spokane in a Dec. 4 game. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga incoming freshman Anton Watson is one of 18 finalists for the USA U19 World Cup team.

Watson made the first cut from 31 players that competed in five practices over three days in Colorado Springs. The 18 players will continue training before the final 12-man roster is announced before the team departs for Greece on June 24.

The U.S. will compete in the FIBA U19 World Cup from June 29- July 7. The Zags are recruiting two other finalists, class of 2020 standouts Jalen Suggs and Walker Kessler.

The 18 finalists include five players who have played one season collegiately, five in the 2019 class and eight from the the 2020 class. Kansas State’s Bruce Weber is the U19 head coach. Washington’s Mike Hopkins and North Carolina Central’s LeVelle Moton are assistant coaches.

“I am not overstating things if I say this was an incredibly difficult selection process,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter, chair of the junior national team committee. “We feel like our group of finalists offers coach Weber and his staff outstanding athleticism and versatility, and the talent to become a very good defensive team.”

Watson led Gonzaga Prep to a pair of 4A state titles. He scored 33 points in a 69-43 win over Mt. Si in last year’s title game.

The 6-foot-9 Watson, who averaged 21.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists as a senior, is a two-time state tournament MVP and two-time Greater Spokane League MVP.

Watson made the initial cut last year at the USA U18 team tryouts but wasn’t selected for the final roster.

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