Charlotte Hornet Dwayne Bacon will get a jump-start on the NBA season in a September stint with Team USA.
Bacon, entering his second season with the Hornets, has accepted one of 14 invitations to training camp in Las Vegas this week for the squad that will play games to qualify for the 2019 World Cup, to be played in late summer in China.
Jeff Van Gundy will coach a 12-man roster selected from that group. Bacon, a 6-foot-7 guard-forward, fits the profile for the qualifying team: a young player with some NBA experience who can play multiple positions and has a balanced game between offense and defense.
It’s a safe guess Bacon’s inclusion in this camp came in part on the recommendation of former Hornets coach Steve Clifford, now coaching the Orlando Magic. Van Gundy is one of Clifford’s mentors and they continue to be close friends. Clifford said multiple times last season that Bacon, the 40th overall pick in the 2017 draft, has starter potential.
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Now a television analyst with ESPN and ABC, Van Gundy took over the Team USA qualifying-team process a year ago. The World Cup team in China will be coached by San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich.
Bacon is one of 10 players in this Team USA training camp with NBA experience. He played in 53 Hornets games as a rookie out of Florida State, averaging 3.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 13 1/2 minutes. He actually started in the Hornets’ season opener in Detroit last season as a fill-in for the injured Nic Batum.
The Team USA qualifying squad will play games against Uruguay Sept. 14 in Las Vegas and Panama Sept. 17 in Panama City.
Bacon is the second Hornet to get Team USA experience this off-season. Point guard Kemba Walker was part of Popovich’s three-day minicamp in Las Vegas in July.
The Hornets and new coach James Borrego open a three-day training camp in Chapel Hill Sept. 25, before an exhibition against the Boston Celtics Sept. 28 at the Dean Smith Center on North Carolina’s campus.