In recounting his 2017 FIBA AmeriCup experience, Larry Drew II was very appreciative of the opportunity to represent the red, white, and blue.
“It was a terrific experience to be out there and to represent your country” Drew said. “I’ve always had aspirations to make the NBA or to play at the highest level but I never once thought that I would go out there and have USA across my chest. It was something else to say the least.”
In a roster that mainly posted NBA G League alumni, the former Sioux Falls Skyforce guard averaged 4.6 PPG, 5.0 APG and 1.0 SPG throughout the tournament. But when the pressure was on, Drew stood firm.
In the second game of group play against Uruguay, the United States found themselves heading into the final quarter knotted up at 50 apiece. But Drew stepped up and led the way in the quarter with six points (on two three-pointers), two rebounds and three assists which propelled Team USA to a 74-66 victory.
““I saw that we were going to need a push to get us over the hump.” Drew recalled. “Going into the fourth I know I didn’t want to have it this close winding down into the crunch time. I saw a couple of spaces on the perimeter where I could’ve just pulled up, and I just stepped into [those threes] with confidence and knocked them down.”
One of the big keys to Team USA’s success was the leadership of Jeff Van Gundy. Drew knew that playing for such a high-caliber coach was vital to his development as a player.
“Jeff was great. I learned a ton from Jeff in that short period of time. But one thing I think I’m gonna take from my experience with Jeff is just [being] relentless on both sides of the court – both on offense and defense. I’m really in a head space where I don’t think I’ve been as confident in my game. I don’t think I’ve felt as good as I’ve felt at this time right now. I have a lot of confidence just heading into training camp.”
Drew’s AmeriCup performance caught some eyes and shortly after returning home with a gold medal, Drew inked a training camp with the Miami Heat.
Through this journey and into the future, Drew wears Tar Heel pride on his sleeve. With Team USA, Drew got to re-link with former University of North Carolina and NBA G League alum Kendall Marshall. In Miami Drew will link up with another UNC teammate in Wayne Ellington.
“The first time I spent with Kendall at UNC, we had a terrific on the court and off the court kind of friendship and relationship going. When I was able to reconnect with him in the AmeriCup on Team USA, it was cool for me.”
“[Ellington] definitely taught me a lot in my freshman year in 2009 – the year that we won the championship. We definitely have a bond that is never gonna be – no matter how much time goes by, no matter how much space is between us – we’ll always be a part of history together. So I’m looking forward to going down [to Miami] and reconnecting with Wayne as well.”
With all these experiences under his belt, Drew is looking forward to channeling his newfound two-way skills into his third training camp with the Heat – and this time Drew intends to land a roster spot.
“This [camp] definitely feels different because 2013, I was going down after my fifth year in college – a rookie going through this whole process. I didn’t really know what to expect. Now that I got a few years under my belt, a couple of training camps, summer league, I’ve been overseas for two years, this past USA AmeriCup experience – I think I’m just a lot more polished now. I’m a lot more mature and I’m a lot better than I was in the past. Like I said, I’m looking forward to going down there and showcasing myself as a complete player both on offense and defense this time around.”