Birmingham, Alabama – After an intense four-day selection camp at the Lakeshore Foundation, the 2022 U.S. Men’s U23 team has made its first round of cuts, narrowing the roster down to 18 talented athletes. The initial selected pool of athletes represents 10 universities and organizations within the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA).
Auburn University produced the most selected athletes (4), with The University of Alabama and the University of Texas at Arlington each bringing three athletes past the first cut.
Leading the way for the Auburn Tigers are Luke Robinson of Everett, Washington; Joe Rafter of West Chester, Pennsylvania; Evan Heller of Wooster, Ohio and Samuel Armas of Villa Rica, Georgia.
Representing The University of Alabama is Peter Berry of Houston, Texas. Berry was selected as an alternate for the U23 Men’s roster in 2017. Joining him are his brother Aaron Berry of Houston, Texas, and Crimson Tide teammate Shaun Doss of Hudsonville, Michigan.
Fresh off of a 2021 NWBA Intercollegiate Men’s National Championship, the University of Texas at Arlington adds to the pool with Bryce Cruz of Houston, Texas, and AJ Hummer of Waterloo, Indiana; as well as Carrington Marendes of Woodville, Texas.
Talen Jourdan of Deerfield, Wisconsin, and Ryan Glatchak of Addison, Illinois, are representing the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks.
Among the other collegiate athletes selected are the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Gabe DenBraber of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eastern Washington University’s Spencer Kimbro of Moses Lake, Washington, and The University of Arizona’s Michael Seo of Escondido, California.
Riley Blee of Overland Park, Kansas was selected to the pool and currently plays on the Kansas City Kings of the NWBA’s Adult Division II and serves as a coach for the Kansas City Kings Varsity.
Rounding out the names of the first cut are a pair of high school athletes. Collin Lancaster of Dacula, Georgia, who plays for the Blaze Sports Jr. Hawks Varsity team, as well as Tim Houston of Ponte Vedra, Florida, who will be playing this season for the Brooks Ballers in the NWBA’s Adult Division II.
Leading this team is head coach Ford Burttram of Pensacola, Florida, who coaches the men’s team at The University of Alabama within the NWBA’s Intercollegiate Division. Joining Burttram on the sidelines will be Jacob Counts of Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky, founder and wheelchair basketball head coach of the Greater Cincinnati Adapted Sports Club. The other assistant coach for Burttram is Doug Garner of Arlington, Texas, who currently is head coach and program director for the University of Texas-Arlington Movin’ Mavericks.
Preston Howell of Belmont, North Carolina will serve as the team leader, with David Becker of Matthews, North Carolina, working as the team medical staff; both of which have involvement with the Abilities Unlimited of the Carolinas, Inc. which fields five teams (“Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets”) within the NWBA.
The U.S. Men’s U23 team will continue the comprehensive selection process and training schedule until a final roster of 12 athletes is named. The U.S. Men’s U23 team must secure one of two sports available for the Americas Zone at a U23 International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) World Championships Qualifying Tournament: location and dates TBD. If a qualification spot from the Americas Zone is secured by the U.S. Men’s U23 team they then earn a spot to compete at the 2022 IWBF Men’s U23 World Championship. The IWBF recently announced the U23 Men’s World Championships will take place between 27 May – 4 June 2022 at the Chiba Port Arena in Chiba, Japan.
The U.S. U23 Men’s wheelchair basketball program is an international development team that serves as NWBA pipeline to the U.S. Men’s National Team. This program provides elite youth athletes the opportunity to compete at the international level. Team USA has medaled in four of the six U23 World Championships, having won gold in 2005 and 2009. The United States did not participate in 2013 and placed eighth in 2017.