Duke basketball superstar Paolo Banchero was slammed for joining Team USA.
Quietly, former Duke basketball standout Paolo Banchero committed to play for Team USA this summer but his decision was met with heavy criticism from the decision makers for Team Italy.
Banchero has previously planned to play for Italy in the upcoming FIBA World Cup but his switch to play for the United States of America took everyone by surprise, although nothing was made official.
The Athletic‘s insider Shams Charania reported that the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year had selected the USA over Italy.
Players cannot switch national teams once a decision has become official.
“Betrayal, especially in basketball, is a strong word. Situations like this happen, and personally, I’m used to it,” Italian Basketball Federation president Gianni Petrucci said in La Gazzetta dello Sport, an Italian publication.
“But he fooled us, we were planning a great commercial strategy for him,” Petrucci continued.
Banchero, who has dual citizenship in both the United States and Italy, averaged 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 42.7-percent from the field yet 29.8-percent from 3-point range for the Orlando Magic.
“It was a legitimate decision, but he could have made a call to communicate that to us. Instead, we learned about his decision from the newspapers,” Petrucci said.
Duke basketball standout avoids conversation with Team Italy
The biggest issue that the Italian basketball leaders have with Paolo Banchero is his refusal to speak directly with them.
“In the past few days, [Banchero] was in Milan, and despite our agreements with his agency, he avoided the meeting with coach [Gianmarco] Pozzecco,” Gianni Petrucci explained.
Former Blue Devil standout Brandon Ingram, among other NBA stars, has also verbally committed to play for Team USA this summer.
The FIBA World Cup starts August 23 in the Philippines while the United States will begin exhibition games on August 7 in Las Vegas.