Providence’s Cooley named Head Coach for Pan American Games team

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – A select team of men’s basketball standouts from the BIG EAST Conference will represent the United States at the 2019 Pan American Games, it was announced jointly today by USA Basketball and the BIG EAST.  This represents the first time a team from a single Division l conference will represent the U.S. in the sport of men’s basketball in Pan American Games competition.

The BIG EAST also announced that Providence College head coach Ed Cooley will serve as head coach for the Pan American Games team.   Cooley’s selection is pending USOC approval.    He previously served on the coaching staffs for the 2014 USA Basketball junior national team that won the FIBA Americas U18 Championship and the 2015 USA team that won the FIBA U19 World Championship in Greece.  He has been a member of the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee since 2017.  He was also a court coach for the 2013 USA U19 World Cup Team.  In his eighth season at Providence, Cooley led the Friars to the 2014 BIG EAST Conference title and to NCAA Tournament appearances in each of the past five years.

The player roster, additional coaching staff appointments and training camp details will be announced at a later date.

“We are very honored to have been chosen by the NCAA and USA Basketball to represent the United States in this prestigious competition,” said BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman, who served as President of USA Basketball from 2005-08.  “This will be a unique educational, cultural and competitive experience for our participating players and coaches, and we look forward to working with Coach Cooley to assemble the best possible group to carry the basketball flag in Peru.”

“USA Basketball felt it would be best to offer the college community the opportunity to participate in the men’s basketball competition at the 2019 Pan American Games given an already full USA men’s national team calendar,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball CEO.  “USA Basketball worked with the U.S. Olympic Committee and the NCAA to identify the best option and NCAA Division I conferences were offered the opportunity to participate in the Pan American Games. Ultimately the BIG EAST Conference was selected and USA Basketball is confident that Coach Cooley and the BIG EAST team will represent the United States in a manner that will make all Americans proud.”

“I am very honored to be asked to coach this unique squad of BIG EAST players,” said Cooley.  “Any time you have the opportunity to represent your country, it is special.  I have the highest level of respect for USA Basketball and the BIG EAST as they are two organizations that have been so instrumental in my career development.”

The Pan American Games is a multi-sport event featuring teams from North, South and Central American and the Caribbean, which is organized by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) and played every four years in the year preceding the Olympics (2019, 2023, etc.).  The 2019 Pan American Games will be held in Lima, Peru, August 6-10. 

Earlier this fall, NCAA Division I conferences were offered the opportunity to apply to participate in the Games, with the NCAA then recommending its selection to USA Basketball for approval.  NCAA officials and USA Basketball had decided previously that, for the first time, an all-star team from a single conference would represent the United States in the 2019 Games. 

In the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, the USA team, under the guidance of Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few and comprised of seven collegians and five players from the professional ranks, finished 3-2 and won the bronze medal.

Many BIG EAST players and coaches have participated in previous Pan American Games.   In 2011, the USA team, comprised of players and coaches from the NBA Development League, including former Villanova standout Curtis Sumpter, fought to a well-earned bronze medal in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Led by current Villanova head coach Jay Wright and comprised of collegians, the 2007 USA Pan American Team, the youngest team in the competition, took some time to gel, and after falling in its first two games, closed the competition with three straight wins to finish 3-2 and in fifth-place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The BIG EAST has a rich tradition of competing in international competition.  Former BIG EAST players have participated in each of the last nine Olympic Games for the U.S. and other nations.  Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing, the current head coaches at St. John’s and Georgetown, respectively, played in the Los Angeles Olympics as collegians in 1984 and were members of the famed USA Basketball “Dream Team” that played in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

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