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It's official: Mason Plumlee is finalist for Team USA

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Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

USA Basketball announced its finalists for Team USA -- 16 players who'll compete for the 12-man roster that will try to win gold at the FIBA World Cup in Spain starting August 30.  And the big surprise is that Mason Plumlee is one of them.

"It's quite an honor to be added to the National Team and to be a finalist for the World Cup roster," said Plumlee.  'I am very much looking forward to training camp in Chicago as the next step in representing our country as a member of USA Basketball."

Plumlee, 24, has been the surprise of the Team USA camp, rising from the USA Select Team practice squad to the finalists. Brian Windhorst tweeted last week that Plumlee was "likely" to make the final roster over DeMarcus Cousins, raising a great hue and cry from Sacramento and elsewhere.

"This phase of the selection process was extremely difficult and very thorough, and it’s worth again mentioning that we are looking to select the best team, which are not necessarily the best players," managing director Jerry Colangelo said in a statement.

Later Tuesday, Coach Mike Krzyzewski praised Plumlee and hinted that it may not be Cousins who's at risk.

An NBA All-Rookie First Team member in his first year out of Duke University, Plumlee appeared in 70 games (22 starts) for Brooklyn, averaging 7.4 points (8th among rookies) on 65.9% shooting (1st among rookies), 4.4 rebounds (t-4th among rookies), 0.70 steals (7th among rookies) and 0.79 blocks (t-4th among rookies) in 18.2 minutes per game.

Plumlee was also first among all qualifying rookies in player efficiency rating (19.0), win shares (4.7) and true shooting percentage (67.0%) and played more minutes per game for a team that finished the regular season over .500 than any other rookie.