Kentucky coach John Calipari and Wildcats freshmen Hamidou Diallo and P.J. Washington will not come home from Egypt empty-handed. They helped Team USA dust itself off from a semifinal stunner against Canada on Saturday and beat Spain 96-72 on Sunday for a bronze medal in the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup.
To the Americans’ credit, there was no hangover after their bid for a third consecutive gold fell short. Team USA raced out to a 25-6 lead in the first quarter and Spain never mounted a serious challenge the rest of the way. Diallo and Washington combined for 15 points in the victory.
That pair showed enough in Cairo to excite Kentucky fans for the 2017-18 season — averaging a combined 51 points, 19.3 rebounds and 9.2 assists per 40 minutes — but also displayed a few troubling trends. Diallo and Washington made only 37 of 71 free throws (52.1 percent) in seven World Cup games, and Diallo at times made poor decisions on both ends of the court.
In better news, Kentucky sophomore Tai Wynyard finished the World Cup on a tear with three consecutive double-doubles, capped by 17 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks in 29 minutes against Egypt on Sunday as his native New Zealand won the 11th-place game. In seven games, the 6-foot-10 Wynyard shot 60.6 percent from the field and averaged 21.6 points, 14.1 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes.
He finished in the top 10 at the World Cup in scoring, rebounding and blocks — a potential springboard to a breakthrough season at Kentucky, which doesn’t have a bruiser in the paint quite like Wynyard.
P.J. Washington final stats (7 games)
Hamidou Diallo final stats (7 games)
Tai Wynyard final stats (7 games)
USA vs Spain highlights
* We’ll update with video highlights as soon as they’re released by FIBA.
What’s next for John Calipari, Hamidou Diallo, P.J. Washington, Tai Wynyard and Kentucky basketball?
No rest for the weary. Calipari will hit the road for the July recruiting period this week, including two stops in South Carolina: Nike’s Peach Jam in North Augusta and Adidas’ Gauntlet Finale in Spartanburg. SEC Country will have reporters at both events, tracking Kentucky’s top 2018 targets.
Meanwhile, Washington, Diallo and Wynyard will head back to Lexington and join the rest of the Wildcats already working out together on campus (we’re hearing good things). Next time we see them will be Oct. 13 at Rupp Arena for Big Blue Madness.
USA vs Spain box score