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  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Trey Mckinney-Jones of the Mad Ants drives against Long Island Net’s Thomas Wimbush during the 3rd quarter at the Coliseum Saturday night.

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants Trey McKinney-Jones hits a 3-point basket over Drive defender Sam Thompson in the second quarter at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

Friday, February 09, 2018 1:00 am

Ants player to play for US

Exhibition part of NBA festivities

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Mad Ants guard Trey McKinney Jones was selected Thursday to compete for NBA G League USA in an exhibition against the Mexico National Team, with the potential to remain on Team USA beyond that game, and his Fort Wayne teammate DeQuan Jones was chosen to participate in the G League's Slam Dunk Contest.

The International Challenge between the United States and Mexico will take place during the NBA's All-Star festivities and replaces the annual G League All-Star Game. It will tip off 4:30 p.m. Feb. 18 in Los Angeles.

McKinney Jones may not have been the most obvious choice from Fort Wayne considering the Mad Ants have Walt Lemon Jr., one of the G League's leading MVP candidates, but McKinney Jones is considered one of the league's top defensive players and he was among 14 players chosen by the USA Basketball Men's World Cup Qualifying Team Committee.

The other players selected were Taylor Braun (Salt Lake City), Semaj Christon (free agent), Larry Drew II (Sioux Falls), Alonzo Gee (Sioux Falls), Aaron Harrison (Reno), Terrence Jones (Santa Cruz), Rodney Purvis (Lakeland), Xavier Silas (Northern Arizona), David Stockton (Reno), Rashawn Thomas (Oklahoma City), Marcus Thornton (Canton); Travis Wear (South Bay) and Devin Williams (Maine).

They will participate in a training camp Feb. 15-20, after which the roster will be pared to 12 players for USA's World Cup qualifying first-round, second-window games against Cuba on Feb. 23 and Puerto Rico on Feb. 26 in Santa Cruz, California.

USA is 2-0 and atop the FIBA Americas World Cup Qualifying Group C standings, having already defeated Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy coaches the U.S. team, which has recently used Snider graduate Reggie Hearn in games.

McKinney Jones is averaging 11.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists this season for the Mad Ants, who play 7 p.m. Saturday at Maine.

DeQuan Jones, meanwhile, has averaged 15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

In the dunk contest, he will face off against Aaron Best (Raptors 905), Michael Bryson (Iowa), Ike Iroegbu (Agua Caliente) and Ike Nwamu (Sioux Falls).

The preliminary round will begin at 3:30 p.m. and the championship at halftime of the International Challenge game between the U.S. and Mexico. Each player in the dunk contest will have at least two dunks in the first round. The top two players will advance to the final round.

Former Mad Ants player Tony Mitchell won the contest in 2013 and 2014.

The International Challenge and Dunk Contest will be streamed on NBA.com, the NBA app, Twitch and on the ESPN app. It will also be televised on Univision Deportes.

jcohn@jg.net