With Minnesota’s Kevin Love withdrawing from participation, due to personal reasons – wanting to deflect attention, as it’s expected he will be included in a deal to the Cleveland Cavaliers to join LeBron James and Kyrie Irving – the spotlight of the media, those competing for one of the 12 roster spots on National Team, was centered directly on Rose.
And up to this point, like he has in most pressure-packed situations, the 25-year-old has been unfazed and impressive.
"Derrick was sensational the whole week," Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters during a teleconference to announce the trimming of the roster to 16. "He really did that every day, how fast and strong and decisive he was. He really created an air of excitement for the team because we all were anxious to see who he was right now. And who he is is very, very good. We're ecstatic about it and so happy for him.”
Rose is in the process of making his second comeback, after playing in just 10 games during the 2012-13 season before tearing the medial meniscus in his right knee. He missed the entire 2011-12 season, while extensively rehabbing his surgically-repaired left ACL.
During this time, Rose endured criticism and slight backlash. But through it all, he has continued to work and showed only slight rust and timing issues, along with his trademarked explosiveness and speed during the Team USA scrimmage last Friday.
Rose is one of 16 remaining finalist for one of the 12 spots on the team after Washington’s John Wall and Bradley Beal, and Atlanta’s Paul Millsap were cut on Monday.
"It takes an exceptional person, which is why we're talking about Derrick," Krzyzewski said. "I think he's exceptional in every way. He went right at it. The first defensive exchange in the camp, he was all over the ball handler. Moving his feet, attacking him – there was a buzz right away – because it was basically his saying, 'Look, I'm not just back. I'm back at a level that's elite.'"
The camp was thought of as a way for Rose to get his bearings back while competing against elite competition. No one would have been surprised had he been one of the first cuts with the amount of time he has missed in the last two years. But, it appears now that he is a lock to make the roster.
Coach K's praise whenever Rose has been discussed throughout last week only strengthens that notions.
Team USA will resume training next week in Chicago in preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain later this month. They will face Brazil in an exhibition game next Saturday at the United Center.