Michigan basketball has officially started down the path to the 2012 Olympics. It was released yesterday that Jon Horford, a junior on Michigan's basketball team, is currently attempting to make the Dominican Republic's national team. What does this mean? Many reported that he had already made the team, but later reports have confirmed that he is not officially on the team at this point.
I think every Michigan fan would be excited about watching a current Michigan basketball player compete in London for the Olympics this summer. However, there are a few things to note before the entire fan base starts celebrating this achievement. First, Horford is not actually on the team at this point. He is practicing with the team, but hasn't been confirmed as a member yet. Along with this, national teams have to play in qualifying rounds to make the Olympic games in London. Basically, just because you're on a national team doesn't guarantee you in a spot in the Olympics.
Right now, the Dominican Republic basketball team does not have a spot guaranteed in the 2012 Olympics. The Painted Area, a basketball blog, did a set of power rankings regarding 2012 Olympics basketball and has the Dominican Republic listed as "strong contenders" to get a spot in London. I'm not going to make elaborate predictions on whether they'll make it or not, largely because I don't follow world basketball that closely, but the point is still clear, even if Horford makes the team, he may not actually make the Olympic games this summer.
However, Horford is still going to get a lot out of this experience, whether the Dominican team makes the Olympics or not. Why? Because he gets to practice and play against top-level talent and learn from their current head coach, John Calipari. Calipari coaches the Kentucky basketball team, who won the national championship last season. This is a tremendous advantage for Horford, his development, and his return from injury next season.
I'm sure we all remember Horford's early season success and his season ending injury. He actually started the first few games of the year over Jordan Morgan and had some solid performances. He did slip behind Morgan on the depth chart as the year continued, but he still was close to starter caliber for Michigan until he suffered an injury that ended his year. Getting a healthy Horford back for next season would be a major advantage for the team that desperately needed someone to fill Morgan's role when he got in foul trouble.
This extra practice and experience should do wonders for increasing his skills for next year. To me, this is the main reason to be excited about Horford's chances with the Dominican Republic. The farther he and the team go, the more likely that Horford will be better coming back next year. I still believe Morgan is going to be the starter throughout next season, but I think Horford could make a huge impact, especially if he does well leading up to the Olympics. So, when you're watching the Olympics this summer, keep an eye out for Horford and the Dominican Republic's basketball team.