Team USA’s run in the FIBA U19 World Cup came to a disappointing end over the weekend as the United States fell to France in the semifinals before ending the tournament with a loss against Turkey in the third place game.
But Tennessee power forward Tobe Awaka didn’t disappoint in the event. The rising sophomore was one of the USA’s top players and the best rebounder in the tournament.
In seven games at the World Cup, Awaka averaged 11.6 points per game on 60% shooting from the field while adding 10.6 rebounds per game.
If averaging a double-double wasn’t impressive enough, Awaka finished second on Team USA in scoring and second in the whole tournament in rebounding. Awaka averaged nearly five rebounds per 40 minutes than the next most efficient rebounder in the tournament.
Awaka was dominant on the offensive glass, leading the tournament with five offensive rebounds per game while adding 5.6 defensive rebounds per game.
The Hyde Park, New York native’s best games came in the elimination portion of the tournament. Awaka totaled 15 points and 14 rebounds in Team USA’s Round of 16 win over China and 14 points and 10 rebounds in Team USA’s quarterfinals win over Japan.
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The Tennessee forward performed well in both of Team USA’s losses, averaging 10.5 points and 12 rebounds in the two games.
Awaka will now return to Knoxville to join his Tennessee teammates. The Vols are currently going through summer practice before leaving the United States for a foreign trip to Italy later this month.
Expectations are high for Rick Barnes’ ninth Tennessee team after a strong offseason. The Vols are returning super seniors Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James while adding transfers Chris Ledlum, Dalton Knecht and Jordan Gainey to the roster.
Awaka is poised to step into a much larger role this season after averaging 10 minutes per game as a freshman. Olivier Nkamhoua transferred to Michigan and Uros Plavsic moved on opening up opportunities for Awaka and Aidoo.
The Team USA standout exhibited fantastic rebounding ability and good touch around the rim in his freshman season but his defensive struggles kept him from earning a larger role.