Two members of TCU Men’s Basketball won a championship on Sunday, as the U19 USA basketball team defeated France 83-81 to win the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup in Latvia.
Mike Miles, USA’s starting point guard, contributed 11 points and a team-leading rebounds (7), assists (6), and steals (4) in the winning effort. He averaged 9.1 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.3 rebounds in just under 21 minutes per game throughout the tournament.
Jamie Dixon coached this young squad to a perfect 7-0 run through the tournament. He might have saved his best coaching effort for Sunday, as the halftime adjustments he made absolutely shut down a scorching hot Victor Wembanyama. Wembanyama dropped 14 first-half points and was a force defensively for France.
Dixon attacked him in the second half with Kenny Lofton Jr., and the big body from Louisiana Tech worked Wembanyama into foul trouble early in the fourth. Lofton and Purdue’s Jaden Ivey led USA with 16 points each, as USA battled back from eight down early in the third quarter.
Trailing 58-50 with 2:20 remaining in the third, Ivey and Lofton sparked a 9-1 USA run to pull even with France at 59 with 39 seconds left. France responded with a mini-run of their own, hitting a three and making two free throws to close out the quarter with a 64-59 lead.
Miles had a particularly impactful run in the fourth quarter. Drawing a charge with 9:09 left in the game, Miles hopped up, took the inbound, and drove from the top of the key into the lane where he hit a beautiful floater.
USA’s next time down the floor Miles showed off his quick burst to get around a defender and into the lane, where he was fouled in the act of shooting. Two made free throws later USA had climbed to within two of France, 64-62.
Later in the quarter, with just 1:46 remaining, Miles stole the ball away and took it to the other end for an emphatic breakaway dunk. The basket gave Team USA an 83-76 lead and forced a France timeout.
This was Dixon’s second stint as USA’s head coach, as he also led the team to a title in 2009, when he was Pitt’s head coach. That team was comprised of Klay Thompson, Seth Curry, Gordon Hayward, and Shelvin Mack, among others.
For TCU fans, this was an opportunity to see their burgeoning star perform on the global level and excel. Miles did everything that was asked of him and more, bringing a sense of patience and court vision to the team that they very much needed. At times throughout the tournament Team USA looked rushed and unorganized with Miles on the bench.
It’s also a great tool for Jamie Dixon to be able to say to recruits that he has this experience under his belt - and that he took one of his guys with him on the journey. Dixon has come under fire recently as TCU’s team struggled in 2020-21 and saw almost a dozen players leave the program during and after the season. The title run with Team USA might have been just as important for him to get some of his mojo back, as it was for Miles’ experience.
As a freshman, Miles averaged 13.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists for the Horned Frogs, quickly becoming a leader both on and off the court. With an immense amount of turnover this offseason, TCU will depend on Miles to bring the abundance of new faces together quickly.
His experience with Team USA seems to have equipped him for that task, and should give Frog fans hope for TCU’s 2021-22 season.
In the meantime enjoy the taste of gold, Mike!