Vear Excited at Potential of 'Best-Ever' GB U20s -

Vear Excited at Potential of ‘Best-Ever’ GB U20s

Great Britain under-20 assistant James Vear believes this year’s squad is one of the best groups they have ever had.

Vear returns for his third summer with the U20 National Team, alongside Head Coach Douglas Leichner, and fellow assistant Andreas Kapoulas. And the Barking Abbey assistant is looking forward to the upcoming European Championships, in Italy.

“This is probably the best group we’ve ever had, talent-wise, on paper,” said Vear of the initial 19-man roster. “But it doesn’t mean that necessarily this will be our most successful year.

“We like the challenge. We have a great coaching staff again, and we are all really excited to get going.”

Last summer, GB achieved an 11th place finish in Division A, in Crete, in a tournament that included a stunning win over the hosts, Greece.

Luke Nelson was the hero on that occasion, and the sophomore guard at UC Irvine is returning for another summer with the under-20’s along with Kavell Bigby-Williams, Ben Lawson, Luke Mascall-Wright and Tamas Okros.

Vear was able to check out some of the newer faces in the squad up close last weekend with the quartet of Jules Dang Akodo, Deane Williams, Sam Newman and Nathan Smith all in action at the Hoopsfix All-Star Classic.

And the U19 Black Team coach was pleased to be a part of the event, which took place in front of a sell-out crowd at the Brixton Recreation Centre.

“I wasn’t in the country for last year’s (HASC) so it felt great to be part of the event this time,” said Vear. “Sam (Neter) does an amazing job at doing things like the event for the sport, and it’s great to see all the kids in one place at once because it doesn’t happen very often with all their National Team and club commitments.

“For me, it was good to get to see some of the GB under-20s, and see how coachable they are and what strengths and weaknesses they have.”

Vear was also keen to take in the preceding under-17 game with the country’s top junior talent assembled for the second Hoopsfix All-Star Classic.

“I was probably more excited about the under-17 game, and seeing all the talented kids on display,” he said. “Some of them are coming to Barking Abbey next season as well, so it was an opportunity for me to see them, too.”

The GB under-20s will meet up for camp in a few weeks, before heading to Girona, Spain, for a preparation tournament ahead of the European Championships. GB take on Turkey, Slovenia, Germany and Lithuania in the First Round with the top three teams progressing.

“It’s a really tough group,” Vear said of their Group D opponents. “But in Division A, everyone is tough so it doesn’t really matter what group you’re in.

“I’m really excited to get into camp, and start working with the players.”

The 19-man roster will gradually be whittled down to just 12 players, who will travel to the Italian town of Lignano Sabbiadoro for GB’s 10th U20 European Championships.

Image credit: Nat Dodman Photography/Hoopsfix

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