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Kirk makes U.S. team for University Games

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By Mike Cote

 

Alex Kirk will get to see the world. At least the Kazan, Russia, part of it.

Kirk, the former basketball star for the Los Alamos Hilltoppers and current University of New Mexico Lobo standout, was named to the final U.S. men’s basketball World University Games roster Saturday. The team, comprised of some top collegiate talent from around the country, was working out in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the Olympic training center there until Sunday, when it was making preparations to compete in the WUG starting July 7.

Kirk, who stands at 7 feet tall, was one of three centers to make the cut onto the team’s 12-man roster. He is the tallest member of the U.S. team.

 The final 12 players were announced Saturday. Kirk made the first big roster chop earlier last week when the roster was cut to 16 players, however, Lobo teammate Kendall Williams didn’t survive that round of cuts.

“Clearly versatility, we have guys that can play more than one position, that’s one of the great strengths we have,” said U.S. head coach Bob McKillop, who is the head coach Davidson College. “I think we shoot the ball particularly well from a number of positions, and we’ve got guys who want to be teammates. Those two things, to me, are the biggest advantages that we have, or the biggest strengths for our team.”

Kirk, for his size, is a very versatile player, who should fit right in with the rest of the roster. Kirk has notable shooting range for a big man and can put the ball on the floor when he needs to.

“It’s a huge honor to know that when we go out to Russia I’ll have USA on my chest and play against the best foreign players at the collegiate level in the world,” said Kirk.  “I’m excited to get a shot at a gold medal.”

Playing for UNM in 2012-13, Kirk helped the Lobos earn Mountain West regular season and conference title. 

Kirk was returning from back surgery which kept him out of the 2011-12 season, but finished his redshirt sophomore year with 12.1 point per game average, third best for UNM, and paced the team with 8.1 rebounds per game.

For his efforts, Kirk was named to the second team All-Mountain West.

Kazan, Russia, is a city with a population in excess of 1 million and is the eighth most populous city in Russia. Situated about 400 miles east of Moscow, Kazan is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan.

The U.S. team is scheduled to start practice in Kazan Wednesday.

The U.S. will open World University Games play July 7.