The 2021 FIBA U19 was an unequivocal success for Purdue’s three participants.
Zach Edey cleared another double-double in the third place game and Team Canada podiums for the bronze medal. Canada’s only loss came at the hands of tournament favorite, Team USA.
Jaden Ivey and Caleb Furst helped keep Team USA’s slate clean racking up their seventh win in the tournament and placing gold around their necks in the process.
Team USA came back and then held off France, 83-81, with a ton of future NBA talent and a few potential #1 picks on the court.
A game after being benched for most of the second half, Ivey responded to being moved into the starting lineup and was huge down the stretch, attacking the basket with finesse and power, and disrupting passing lanes. He tied Kenneth Lofton Jr. for a team-high in points with 16.
Despite playing most the tournament off the bench, and only playing more than twenty minutes in one game, Ivey was one of Coach Dixon’s most dynamic guards with the ball in his hands. He scored double-digits in every game despite one.
For Ivey, it seemed to be the thing that separates him is what got him into Dixon’s dog house at times. The sophomore continually showed that his first step was unmatched by anyone in the tournament, and his ability to hang at the rim allows for him to get acrobatic finishes at the rim to go in and around any rim presence. He got to the line frequently, but also attacked recklessly at times. Ivey struggled to knock down his free throws, and shot lower than 30% from three in the tournament. Those will be two huge points of focus to improve upon going into his second season for Coach Matt Painter.
But his defense showed real improvement. He uses his size to bully up against guards and his elite burst to play passing lanes. He had 11 steals in the tournament, including three in the championship game, and they almost always led to a highlight finish at the other end.
For Caleb Furst, well, the big man was playing in a little guy tournament. He was never going to get huge minutes ahead of Chet Holmgren or Lofton Jr., but he showed himself capable of playing at multiple positions and multiple styles. He was one of Dixon’s most versatile big men. He was in the right place at the right time, boxed out and grabbed rebounds, and attack the hoop when given the chance.
In under ten minutes of action, Furst showed an ability to fill the state sheet: he scored 4 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.
Just before Team USA tipped off for gold, there was a battle between Canada and Serbia for the bronze.
Zach Edey was once again too much on the glass. He racked up another double-double - 12 points and 12 rebounds. But it was a game dominated again by ball handlers and Edey was never given the dedicated looks or touches that have been most effective for Team Canada.
He responded by dominating the rim on the other end. His 5 blocks were pivotal in Canada’s 101-92 bronze victory.
Edey showed that he’s not a product of a well-oiled big man factory at Purdue. The unseemly height, unusual spryness, and the rapid-fire improvement in a game he’s still new to, have all shown themselves on an international stage with a team that at times seemed to forget they had the tallest player on the court.
Overall, Coach Painter and the Purdue program couldn’t have asked for more from their players and the outcome. All three players showed their ability to play with the best players in the world and their only loss came at the hands of the other. It’s clearly great to have one Boiler on your team, but it’s even better to have two.
For Painter and this squad, it’s going to be exciting to see what a whole team of them can do next season.
Listen to further breakdown tomorrow morning on the Hammer and Rails Podcast tomorrow morning.