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Donovan raves about Randle, Smart following gold medal

By Jeff Goodman | College Basketball Insider

Billy Donovan admitted his team lacked perimeter shooters, but it didn't matter since his frontline was so dominant.

"We were physically overpowering up front," Donovan said. "From the small forward spot to center we overwhelmed teams."

Donovan's team cruised through the FIBA Americas U18 tournament and earned the gold medal courtesy of a 81-56 rout over host Brazil. Julius Randle, one of the elite players in the Class of 2013, led the Americans with 18 points and 12 boards in the title game. Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee) added 11 points and Oklahoma State-bound guard Marcus Smart added 10 points in the win.

Donovan raved about the potential of Randle. "The last two games, he took his game to another level," he said. "Early on, he was thinking too much."

"I've never seen a guy his size that quick and athletic off the bounce," he added.

Donovan also had no shortage of praise for Smart, who had six first-half steals against Brazil in pressuring the opposing point guard.

"He's got all the intangibles," Donovan said. "He's a great leader."

Donovan coached the team with Shaka Smart and Mark Few -- and loved the character of the group. The team averaged 97.2 points during the championship and won its five games by an average margin of 38.6 points.

"These guys were unselfish and sacrificed," Donovan said. "It was a really good group of kids."

Randle led the team in scoring (14.2) and rebounding (6.6) with Stokes second in both departments (14 ppg, 5.6 rig). Shaq Goodwin averaged 12.4 points and 4.8 boards and Rasheed Sulaimon put up 10 points per contest. Donovan said Wisconsin-bound forward Sam Dekker struggled and was battling numerous injuries.

Donovan said he'd love the challenge of coaching the U-19 team in the World Championships, an age group that proven to be challenging (the U.S. has won just once in the last six times the event was held) for the Americans because of the difficulty receiving commitments from the elite players. Many of the players just finished their freshman season in college and the top ones are headed to the NBA Draft.

"I'd love to do this again," Donovan said of his involvement with USA Basketball.

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