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USA Basketball's U-19 team is the summer's best show

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The USA's dominance at international basketball is continuing in Greece at the U-19 World Championship.

Francois Nel/Getty Images

USA Basketball isn't used to losing. Since Mike Krzyzewski took over in 2005, the senior team has exactly one loss in 76 games, and it came nine years ago. At the moment, the U.S. holds gold in the Olympics, the World Cup and at every junior level -- U-19, U-18, U-17 and U-16.

If the early results at the FIBA U-19 World Championship -- which started this past weekend in Greece -- are any indication, USA Basketball's stronghold on the rest of the world won't be dissipating any time soon. The Americans didn't just end group play at 3-0, they did it by pummeling teams by an average of over 31 points per game. All of this while sending their youngest team ever to the tournament.

The biggest storyline for the U.S. heading into Greece was the decision to add four high schoolers to the team -- athletes who should theoretically be two grade levels below the oldest players allowed in the competition. So far, it's working out: Harry Giles, Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum have been the three best players on the floor in every game. They ended group play as the United States' three leading scorers, with each of them currently placing in the top 15 in scoring tournament-wide.

Giles, Jackson and Tatum are the consensus top three players in the class of 2016, and each of them seems like a great long-term prospect for the way sport is trending. All three are fast, can defend multiple positions and have a great feel for the game. That's one thing that jumped out during the USA's destruction of group play: These kids are gifted and willing passers with great vision who should thrive in any offense.

Here's Tatum (a 6'8 wing from St. Louis), Giles (a 6'11 big man from North Carolina) and Purdue-bound big man Caleb Swanigan playing tic-tac-toe for an easy bucket:

And here's Tatum creating for UCLA sophomore Thomas Welsh:

That sort of unselfish play has been the key to the Americans' offense so far. On the other side of the ball, it's all about dialing up full-court pressure to force turnovers and turn defense into offense.

Sean Miller is coaching the U-19 team, but the defensive system looks nothing like the packline defense Miller has helped popularize at Arizona. Instead, this is a blitzing, attacking defense that is basically making a mockery out of the competition.

Miller knows his team has the best pure athletes in the field by a large margin, and he's leveraging it to his advantage. The U.S. is averaging 17 steals per game right now, which is six more than any other team in the field. When the press gets dialed up, it really isn't fair:

When this U-19 team gets in transition, no one is going to stop them:

Only four of the 12 players on the roster have played in a college game, but obviously the USA's youth relative to the rest of the field hasn't hurt them in the slightest. This team is essentially comprised of four McDonald's All-Americans in the class of 2015 (Villanova's Jalen Brunson, Oklahoma State's Juwan Evans, Arizona's Allonzo Trier and Purdue's Caleb Swanigan), the four five-star recruits in 2016 and a few college players to add size and depth.

This tournament is not only serving as a great preview for the upcoming college season, but also as a first look at a few players who should be top picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. Giles, Tatum and Jackson (Dallas-cred shooter Terrence Ferguson is the fourth high school player) are that good. If high schoolers could still enter the draft, it wouldn't be a surprise to see all three of them picked in the five a year from now.

This tournament is only confirming that. Jackson is 15.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, three steals and 2.5 blocks per game. Giles is averaging 13.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, while Tatum is putting up 15.7 points, 2.3 steals and three assists per game. The youngest players in the field are dominating the tournament.

The U.S. now takes on Argentina in the round of 16 on July 1. If you care about the future of the game, carve out some time to watch these kids play. It's entertaining brand of ball played at breakneck speed on both ends, and it's a chance to see the top talent coming down the pipeline. While countries like Canada, Croatia, Australia are also producing an incredible amount of young talent, the commanding start at the U-19 tournament has shown America still rules the sport until further notice.


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