Following a successful 2022-23 season, Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves has continued that momentum in international play as he’s established himself as a key role player on Team USA during the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Reaves may be coming off the bench, but he has been pivotal in key runs and closing lineups that have kept Team USA undefeated. In their recent blowout win against Greece, Reaves was named the Player of the Game which gave even more credence to the idea that he has been someone that has stood out more than expected.
Although the former undrafted guard clearly belongs on the world stage, he admitted that he was genuinely surprised to receive an invite to play for the United States, via Khobi Price of the Southern California News Group:
“He was like, ‘You’re not going to believe this,’” Reaves told the Southern California News Group over the phone this week.
The message: Grant Hill, the managing director of the USA Basketball men’s national team, reached out to offer Reaves a spot on the 12-player Team USA roster for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which the U.S. will kick off with a first-round matchup against New Zealand on Saturday (5:40 a.m. PT) in the Philippines.
“I was just kind of shocked [at] the moment,” Reaves said. “I didn’t see it coming. I was confident in what I could do basketball-wise but it was something kind of caught me off-guard.”
It’s easy to understand why Reaves wouldn’t be expecting a call from Hill considering there were other star players who he could’ve called instead. However, the 25-year-old showed in the postseason that he’s more than capable of playing alongside ball-dominant players as well proving he’s not afraid of high-pressure moments.
When it comes to playing for the national team, people like Hill will prioritize players that are able to thrive in smaller roles and fit into the scheme and system. For someone like Reaves, he’s a seamless fit in whatever situation you put him in and the rest of the league is seeing that he belongs with the best of the best.
Walker Kessler calls Austin Reaves funny who loves to trash talk
Lakers fans have been enjoying seeing Reaves go out and prove any of his doubters wrong over the summer, but it sounds like his Team USA teammates are also learning more about him. For example, Walker Kessler had no idea that Reaves was so funny and loved to trash talk opponents on the floor.
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