ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Fred VanVleet has an NBA Championship ring. An Olympic medal to go with that might be nice.
Earlier this week I reported VanVleet was part of a pool of 60 NBA players who are being considered for Team USA for this summer in Tokyo. The players will be watched closely the remainder of this NBA season.
The Rockford native told reporters on Thursday he’s honored to receive consideration. He’s been used to being overlooked much of his basketball career.
“It’s a big honor. It’s a lot of respect to be thought about for that pool of players to represent your country. It’s going to take some time to wrap my mind around that one. I’ve never been a part of that type of environment growing up. I didn’t do much of the AAU, you know, top 100, those type of things where it’s the same guys that you see all the time and they end up being a lottery pick. I’ve just never really been a part of that group, but I’m obviously honored to be thought about to be in that pool, and we’ll see how things pllan out for the rest of the year.”
Many of those players will be invited to workout together and scrimmage once the NBA season ends. Ultimately 12 of them will be picked to represent the United States in the Olympics. VanVleet says he could learn a lot from being in an environment like that.
“There’s a million and one ways you can learn in a situation like that just being around different guys all the best players in the league, great coaches and you know what USA basketball has been for my lifetime it’s been a standard of excellence all-around on the court off the court, so it’ll be great if nothing less just to go be next to guys and learn their strengths and weaknesses for the next season. Obviously I’m a huge learner. I like to watch and observe so that’ll be a big opportunity for me for sure.”
For now VanVleet will remain focused on helping the Toronto Raptors rise back up and be one of the elite teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.