BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – The NWBA announced the 2017 U.S. Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team, following a three-day selection camp at the Lakeshore Foundation’s Olympic and Paralympic Team Training Site on Friday. The U.S. Men’s team will roll into the 2017 IWBF America’s Zonal Qualifier with eight returning 2016 Paralympic gold medalists, and is scheduled for August 21-31. The final roster of 12 athletes will be announced later this summer.
The road to Tokyo for wheelchair basketball starts in 2017 with the America’s Zonal Qualifying tournament, where Team USA must place in the top four to qualify for the 2018 World Championships in Hamburg, Germany. In 2019, the U.S. Team will compete at the Para Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. The quadrenium will close out with the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
2016 co-captains Steve Serio of Westbury, New York, and Mike Paye of Warren, Michigan, return to the squad. Serio, a three-time Paralympian (2008, 2012, 2016), paced the United States in Rio from the point and has earned two consecutive Paralympic medals (2012 bronze, 2016 gold). Paye, also a three-time Paralympian (2004, 2008, 2016), is the contributor in a variety of looks for the U.S. men.
Matt Scott of Detroit, Michigan, returns in an attempt to make a fifth consecutive U.S. Paralympic Team. Scott has seen action on the big stage since the Athens Paralympics, and has earned two Paralympic medals in 2012 and 2016. Two-time Paralympic medalist Ian Lynch of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, returns to the squad. Both are versatile players on defense and offense.
Four members of the 2016 gold-medal team return and are looking towards their second appearance at the 2020 Paralympics, and all earned a silver medal at the 2014 World Championships. Leading the quartet is Brian Bell of Forest Park, Illinois; Jared Arambula of Valparaiso, Indiana; Aaron Gouge of Wake Forest, North Carolina; and Jake Williams of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Also joining the Paralympians will be: John Boie of Milton, Wisconsin; Ryan Neiswender of Lebanon, Pennsylvania; Jorge Salazar, of Delano, California; and Jorge Sanchez of Oakland, California. Neiswender and Sanchez were members of the 2013 America’s Qualifier team. This is Salazar’s second National Team selection camp, and is a member of the NWBA’s San Diego Wolfpack that is a perennial contender for a national championship.
In addition, Sean Maloney of Seattle, Washington, and Ryan Wright of Conifer, Colorado, were named to the initial roster. This was Maloney’s first National Team selection camp, and the second camp for Wright.
U.S. Men’s Head Coach Ron Lykins of Columbia, Missouri, returns to lead Team USA. Lykins has coached three U.S. Paralympic gold-medal teams (2004 women; 2008 women; 2016 men). Joining Lykins on the sidelines will be assistant coaches Robb Taylor of Auburn, Alabama, Christian Burkett of Seattle, Washington. Scott Meyer of Columbia, Missouri, will serve as the team leader.
“The intensity of the athletes was evident and continued to grow during the past several days, which made this a tough decision. I was pleased to see some of our younger athletes participate and become involved with the national team process,” said Lykins. “The Rio gold medalists picked up again for the first time since last September, and started to sync with each other. We are going to continue to evaluate all athletes and select a team this summer that positions us for success.”
Team USA, who last lost at the 2014 World Championships, kept its perfect winning streak alive last summer by winning eight games at the Rio Paralympic Games by outscoring the field, 614-349. The U.S. Men’s Team led eight of 12 stat categories in Rio. The U.S. men finished with a bronze medal at the London 2012 Paralympics, and were seventh in 2004 and fourth in 2008, following bronze-medal performances in 2000 and 1996.
2017 U.S. Men’s Wheelchair Basketball National Team Roster
Name, Hometown/Resident, College/NWBA Team
*Jared Arambula, Valparaiso, Indiana, Univ. of Alabama
*Brian Bel; Forest Park, Illinois, Univ. of Illinois
John Boie, Milton, Wisconsin, Univ. of Wis-Whitewater
*Aaron Gouge, Wake Forest, N.C., Univ. of Texas-Arlington
*Ian Lynch, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, Univ. of Wis-Whitewater
Sean Maloney, Seattle, Washington, Seattle Wheelchair Sonics
Ryan Neiswender, Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Univ. of Illinois
*Mike Paye, Warren, Michigan, Univ. of Texas-Arlington
Jorge Salazar, Delano, California, San Diego Wolfpack
Jorge Sanchez, Oakland, California, Univ. of Texas-Arlington
*Matt Scott, Detroit, Michigan, Univ. of Wis-Whitewater
*Steve Serio, Westbury, New York, Univ. of Illinois
*Jake Williams, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Univ. of Wis-Whitewater
Ryan Wright, Conifer, Colorado
* denotes U.S. Paralympians
U.S. Men’s Staff: Head Coach Ron Lykins (Columbia, Mo.); Assistant Coaches Robb Taylor (Auburn, Ala.), and Christian Burkett (Seattle, Wash.); Team Leader Scott Meyer (Columbia, Mo.)