Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Before LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Team USA take on the world this summer, they'll have to deal with a couple of Utah Jazz players.
Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward have been chosen to participate on the prestigious 2012 USA Select team, which will play against and help prepare the U.S. men's basketball team ahead of the Summer Olympics in London.
The young Jazz players will join 11 other NBA up-and-comers for the training competition, according to a CSN Bay Area report.
The USA Select team reportedly will include: the Jazz's Hayward and Favors; DeMarcus Cousins (Kings); Jeremy Lin (Knicks); Klay Thompson (Warriors); Kyrie Irving (Cavs); John Wall (Wizards); DeMar DeRozan (Raptors); Paul George (Pacers); Kawhi Leonard and DeJuan Blair (Spurs); Ryan Anderson (Magic); and Taj Gibson (Bulls).
USA Basketball has not officially announced the members of its prep squad, which gives officials a chance to evaluate potential future Olympic players as well. LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook are 2012 Olympic team finalists who were on the 2008 Select squad.
It's possible Hayward and Favors would not be able to participate with the Jazz's summer league team in Orlando (July 9-13) despite Utah management's wishes for that to happen. Team USA will begin preparing for the London Games in Las Vegas during the same time period (July 5-12) before continuing training in Washington, D.C. from July 13-16.
Former Jazz point guard Deron Williams is the only player with local ties among the 22 hopefuls looking to be included on the final U.S. roster. Olympic action begins on July 29 for the Americans against a tough pool that includes the likes of Argentina and France.
Hayward struggled to find his shot in the postseason, but the shooting guard played especially well during the second half of the regular season to help the Jazz make a successful playoff push. The 22-year-old finished his second year in the NBA with averages of 11.8 points, 3.5 assists and 3.1 assists.
Hayward helped the U.S. Under-18 team win the 2009 world championship in New Zealand. The ex-Butler standout was named to the all-tournament team.
Favors averaged 8.8 points and 6.5 rebounds during the season, but the powerful and athletic 20-year-old came on strong in the playoffs. The 6-10 Favors was one of Utah's best players during the Spurs' sweep, averaging 11.8 points and 9.5 rebounds while playing some menacing defense.
Both Hayward and Favors played well in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend.
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