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Yahoo Sports Senior NBA reporter Vince Goodwill spoke with Los Angeles Lakers and USA Basketball guard Austin Reaves about his experience playing for the national team, how close he was to playing for Germany, and which players he’s learning the most from during his time with USA Basketball preparing for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
VINCENT GOODWILL: We are here with USA Basketball guard Austin Reaves, part of the USA Basketball World Cup beginning on August 25. Was it true that before USA Basketball, you considered playing for the German national team because you could get German citizenship?
AUSTIN REAVES: Yeah. My brother and I actually both dual citizenship, and I become real close with Dennis. We had a lot of talks about that, and when I got this call it was a call that just couldn’t say no to. And I texted Dennis, explained it to him, too, and he congratulated me and everything. But yeah, it was definitely a possibility.
VINCENT GOODWILL: So how surprised were you when you got the call from USA Basketball when they were putting together the roster and they said that they wanted you?
AUSTIN REAVES: Yeah, I was, to say the least, shocked. Honestly, I was golfing with one of my best friends and my agent called me and was like, you’re not going to believe this. And I was like, all right, whatever. Throw it at me. And he was like, they want you to play for the USA team, and I didn’t really have anything to say. Like, I was just like, are you messing with me? And he was like, no. So it was obviously an opportunity I couldn’t pass on.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Yeah, but you could see last year or the year before, you were coming on. Like, the second year, your game shouldn’t have been a surprise. Was there a game that just sort of boosted your confidence level?
AUSTIN REAVES: I had a hamstring issue. It got cleared I think right at the trade deadline. We were playing Milwaukee, and it was my first game back. I honestly thought this is going to be one of those, “I got to get my legs back under me,” but I went out and hooped. I had a really good game, shot the ball well, and ever since that game was when it took off because Brian was out at that point and we needed guys to step up.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Yeah, and it’s funny, because now you’re with USA Basketball, you’re with all these different players. What are some of the guys that maybe you want to play with and maybe learn a little bit something from?
AUSTIN REAVES: Yeah, I mean, I’ll actually pick up a little bit of everything– or a little bit of something from everybody, and coaches included. But I think Brandon Ingram’s someone that just gets to his spot. He’s never rushed. And then other than– I mean, really, everybody honestly. We got such a talented team that the main thing for us is just to mesh it together and figure out how to play off one another and kind of use each other to benefit each other. But I’ll learn a little bit of something from everybody.
VINCENT GOODWILL: It’s funny now that you say that about learning from everybody. I go back to game 6 against Golden State in the conference semifinals. That last possession of the first half, you come up with it, throw up a half-court shot, Staples Center goes off, the series is literally over. We all turned to ourselves and said, this game is over. Now you’re being coached by Steve Kerr. Please tell me you give him a little bit of needling. Please tell me you give him a little bit.
AUSTIN REAVES: He texted me. His opening sentence was, finally that I’m not so pissed off at you, I’m excited to actually coach you instead of try to figure out how to coach against you. I’ve told him multiple times here– I was like, y’all have won enough in these last eight years or so that we were trying to do what y’all were doing. But he’s a good guy, he’s a great coach, and that’s someone that I’ll learn from, too.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Well Austin, man, really appreciate it, man. Good luck with everything with the World Cup and USA Basketball going on this summer.
AUSTIN REAVES: For sure. Appreciate you.