The May 12 basketball game between the Utah High School Select Team and the touring Soviet Junior National Team is eight days away, and the state's all-star squad is already well into its intensive schedule of practices.
Practice for the Utah team started last weekend at the Huntsman Center, site of the May 12 game.Of the 27 players - 12 Utahns, 15 Soviets - 14 of the participants are holdovers from the 1989 Utah-Soviet game. Back for the Utah Select Team are Emery County's Shawn Bradley, Richfield's Ryan Cuff, Judge's Chris Jones, Bingham's Kenneth Roberts and Cottonwood's Justin Weidauer.
The Soviet team returns nine players from last year's squad, including 6-8 Kakha Shengelia and 6-8 Sergei Grezin, who are making their third AAU-Soviet tour of the United States. Other repeat players include 6-4 Vasili Karasev, 6-3 Yuri Leonov, 6-6 Igo Grachev, 6-4 Gert Kullamyae, 6-6 Andrey Olbrecht, 7-0 Alexander Okunski and 6-10 Denis Petenev.
The fact that three-fifths of the Soviet team are second- and third-year players translates into an age-and-experience advantage. Seven of the 15 Soviets are 19 years old, while the remaining eight are 18.
In conjunction with the game, a slam-dunk competition will feature two dozen of the state's top prep jumpers. Preliminary competition begins at 6:30 p.m., with the five finalists advancing to the championship round, to be held at halftime.
Scheduled participants in the slam-dunk competition include Alta's Justin Barlow, Taylorsville's Ken Browning, Orem's Gary Chapman, Kearns' Jon Collins, North Sanpete's Jeff Ericksen, Brighton's Alex Fisher, Delta's Rob Fowles, Brighton's Joey Haws, North Sanpete's Randy Heiden, Ben Lomond's Kim Hester, Mountain Crest's Jeff Howell, Ogden's Sheddric Mickles, Cottonwood's Seth Miller, Ben Lomond's Ryan Nebeker, Ogden's Brandon Parker, Ben Lomond's Ryan Pearce, Orem's Brian Rasmussen, Ogden's Matt Russell, Alta's Scott Sexton, Logan's Kenny Sorenson, Ogden's Tramyne Watson, Brighton's Derrick Welling, and Mountain Crest's Brandt Wilcox.