COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. – The NWBA is excited to announce the initial selection of athletes for the 2020 U.S. Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team. The initial selection was made at the conclusion of the Toyota Team USA Men’s Selection Camp, a four day camp at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The initial selection of athletes to the 2020 U.S. Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team is the hopeful athletes to compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games from August 25 to September 6 in Tokyo, Japan.
“It was a tough four days of basketball,” said 2020 U.S. Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Head Coach Ron Lykins of Columbia, MO. “Players gave their all and as a staff and selection committee we appreciate that. We feel confident that these 17 guys are going to help us best prepare for Tokyo.”
The group of 17 athletes proves to be rich with veteran talent and a welcomed addition of younger elite athletes. The pool includes ten members of the historic U.S. gold medal-winning team from the 2016 Rio Paralympics. The roster returns eleven athletes from the 2018 IWBF World Championships and all twelve athletes from the gold medal-winning team from the 2019 Parapan American Games held in Peru.
Among the selected athletes are Mike Paye of Macomb, MI, and Steve Serio of Westbury, NY, the two captains of the gold-medal winning team from the 2015 and 2019 Parapan American Games. Paye and Serio played together on the 2006, 2010 and 2018 IWBF World Championship teams, and were together again at the 2016 Rio Paralympics where the U.S. Men won gold. Paye was a member of the 2004 Athens Paralympic team, and Serio was a contributor to the bronze-medal team for the 2012 London Paralympics.
Matt Scott of Detroit, MI, joins the initial pool of athletes in hopes of making the final roster which would be his fifth appearance for the U.S. at the Paralympic Games. Scott has seen action on the big stage since the 2004 Athens Paralympics. He has earned a bronze medal at the 2012 London Paralympic Games and a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. In addition to the Paralympic medals, he has won gold at four Parapan American Games and silver at two IWBF World Championships.
Three-time U.S. Paralympian Josh Turek of Council Bluffs, IA also returns to the Team USA pool. Turek played a vital role on the gold-medal 2016 Rio Paralympic team and represented his country on the 2014 U.S. World Championship squad that won a silver medal. Turek was a member of the last three U.S. Men’s teams for the Parapan American Games (2011, 2015, 2019).
Brian Bell of Forest Park, IL; Aaron Gouge of Grand Prairie, TX; and Jake Williams of Milwaukee, WI are returning to try to compete for their second Paralympic gold medal. Trevon Jenifer of Edinboro, PA joins the group with two Paralympic medals (2016 gold, 2012 bronze). All four athletes were on the gold medal 2016 Rio Paralympics team, 2018 and 2014 silver medal IWBF Worlds teams, and 2015 and 2019 gold medal Parapan American Games teams.
John Boie of Milton, WI will be looking to make his first Paralympic Games debut in Tokyo. Boie was a member of the silver medal 2018 IWBF World Championship team and 2017 America’s Cup gold medal team.
Jorge Sanchez of Dublin, CA, makes the cut for Team USA again after helping capture silver at the 2018 IWBF World Championships and gold at 2019 Parapan American Games. Sanchez was also a gold medalist for the 2013 and 2017 America’s Zonal Qualifiers. Another addition to the hopeful athletes this year is Matt Lesperance of Sun Prairie, WI, who was a member of the 2010 IWBF World Championships and the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
Among the pool of athletes will also be Ryan Neiswender of Lebanon, PA, and Jorge Salazar of Delano, CA. Neiswender and Salazar were members of the gold-medal winning U.S. squad at the 2017 America’s Cup Zonal Qualifier. Neiswender returns for a fourth year on the list of athletes moving on in the selection process after the selection camp in January. Salazar is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. that has been awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Nate Hinze of Cedar Grove, WI and Jared Arambula of Valparaiso, IN will also be competing for a spot on the 2020 Tokyo team. Both were part of the silver-medal winning 2018 IWBF World Championships team, the gold medal 2016 Rio team, and the gold medal 2015 Parapan American Games team.
Marshall Lindsay of Stansbury Park, Utah and Fabian Romo of Chicago, Illinois have been a part of the high performance pipeline since competing on the 2017 U23 World Championships team and earned the opportunity to fight for a Tokyo 2020 spot as well.
These 17 athletes will compete in an international friendly in Chiba, Japan in April and then a domestic friendly at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado in May. The domestic friendly in May will also serve as the final selection camp for the official Tokyo Paralympic Games roster. Twelve athletes will be named to the Tokyo 2020 roster.