James headlines All-Star pool for Olympic selection

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(Reuters) — Three-time medalist LeBron James headlines an all-star pool of players available for selection for the United States squad for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, USA Basketball announced on Tuesday.

The list of 44 finalists includes nine members of the gold medal winning team from 2016 Rio Games and seven from the squad that put the United States top the podium at the 2012 London Olympics.

James, who already owns two Olympic golds and a bronze, would join Carmelo Anthony as the only U.S. male basketball player to appear in four Olympics if he opts to try for a spot in Tokyo.

The Los Angeles Lakers forward did not compete at the 2016 Rio Games.

The men who may well have the toughest job on the United States team are managing director Jerry Colangelo, coach Gregg Popovich and a selection panel, who will have the job of picking 12 players from a pool of NBA All-Stars and future Hall of Famers.

James’ Lakers team mate Anthony Davis, Houston Rockets’ James Harden, Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry are also among the group for possible selection.

USA Basketball did not specify when the official roster would be announced.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team in Tokyo,” said Colangelo, who has served as the managing director of the USA basketball men’s national team since 2005, in a statement.

“Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes.

“Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process.”

The United States men have been the dominant force in Olympic men’s basketball collecting a medal in all 18 Olympics in which they have competed, including 15 gold medals, one silver and two bronze medals.

Since NBA players began representing the United States in 1992, the United States is 53-3 in seven Olympics, capturing six gold medals and one bronze medal.