Sacramento Kings

‘Surprising decision’: Why Kings guard De’Aaron Fox withdrew from USA World Cup team

De’Aaron Fox, left, defends Derrick White during a Team USA exhibition game Aug. 9 in Las Vegas. The Kings guard has withdrawn from Team USA to focus on the upcoming NBA season.
De’Aaron Fox, left, defends Derrick White during a Team USA exhibition game Aug. 9 in Las Vegas. The Kings guard has withdrawn from Team USA to focus on the upcoming NBA season. Las Vegas Review-Journal

Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox made a big impression on USA Basketball players and coaches over the past two weeks, but his time with the national team has come to an end.

USA Basketball communications director Craig Miller told The Sacramento Bee on Saturday that Fox has withdrawn from Team USA activities, confirming reports from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports and Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Windhorst called it a “surprising move.” Haynes cited unnamed league sources who said Fox wants to shift his focus to the upcoming NBA season and Sacramento’s goal of ending the league’s longest current postseason drought.

Fox and Kings forward Harrison Barnes were among the last 14 players being considered for the 12-man team that will represent the United States in the FIBA World Cup later this summer. Kings forward Marvin Bagley III withdrew last weekend following the team’s minicamp in Las Vegas.

Following Team USA’s 90-81 victory over Spain in an exhibition game at Honda Center in Anaheim on Friday night, Miller told The Bee all 14 remaining players would accompany the team to Australia for upcoming exhibition games. Fox had other ideas, opting instead to remain in the United States to prepare for his third NBA season.

Fox and Bagley went to Las Vegas as members of the Select Team, a group of younger players chosen to help the national team ready itself for World Cup competition. Both players impressed and were quickly moved into the pool of candidates for the national team.

Fox, 21, drew rave reviews from Team USA coach Gregg Popovich, assistant coach Steve Kerr, All-Star guard Kemba Walker and others within the USA Basketball program.

Fox delivered an impressive performance in the Blue-White scrimmage on Aug. 9, posting 12 points, three rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocked shots in 15 minutes to lead USA Blue to a 97-78 victory over USA White. Fox logged just six minutes in Friday’s victory over Spain, finishing with two points and one assist.

The Kings selected Fox out of Kentucky with the fifth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He averaged 17.3 points, 7.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds during a breakout sophomore season in Sacramento. He was selected for the Rising Stars game at All-Star Weekend and was a finalist for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.

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Jason Anderson is an award-winning sportswriter for The Sacramento Bee. He started his journalism career at The Bee more than 20 years ago and returned to cover the Sacramento Kings in September 2018.
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