The roster is still pending final approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee, but as one of the "no-doubt" selections, Kevin Durant figures to be safe from a potential cut. In making the roster, Durant becomes the fourth player in Texas basketball history to compete in the Olympics, and the first since Albert Almanza played for Mexico in 1964. Jay Arnette was the most recent Longhorn to compete for the U.S. team in the Olympics, playing in 1960.
It goes without saying, then, that Durant is the first, and only (to this point), Longhorn to make an Olympic team including professional players. The "Dream Team" in 1992 was the first U.S. team to include non-amateur athletes.
“We are all so happy for Kevin,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes. “For those of us who know him so well, we understand that this experience will not be about him as an individual. Kevin will be a great teammate and leader and will play any role asked of him, because his only goal will be to win a gold medal. I’m amazed at the way he continues to grow and develop and yet remain the same, grounded person who we have always known. I hope he never changes.
“The effect of Kevin Durant on the University of Texas basketball program will last a lifetime,” Barnes added. “Our school’s motto is ‘What Starts Here Changes the World,’ and there’s no doubt that Kevin will be doing that shortly on the world’s biggest stage. Kevin is so much more than a basketball player, and he makes every Longhorn proud.”
Team USA will begin preliminary round pool play in the 2012 London Olympics on Sunday, July 29 against France. Pool play continues through Monday, Aug. 6. Quarterfinal games will be held on Aug. 8, followed by the semifinals on August 10. The Bronze Medal game and the Gold Medal game are scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 12.
Durant is fresh off a season that saw him score 28.0 points per game, the second-highest season average of his career, while setting career highs in rebounds (8.0), assists (3.5) and blocks (1.2) per game. He scored 28.5 points per game in the playoffs in leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals, shooting a blistering 51.7 percent from the field.
Other Texas Olympic basketball players include Gilbert "Gib" Ford (1956 Olympics in Melbourne), Arnette (1960, Rome) and Almanza (1960, Rome; 1964, Tokyo). Both Ford and Arnette played for Team USA and won gold medals. Mexico finished in 12th place in both of Almanza's tries, though he experienced the most individual success, leading the Mexicans in scoring in both Olympic games, with a 19.8 average in Rome and a 14.7 mark in Tokyo.