Abromaitis Hopes Classroom Success Translates To Golden Opportunity

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USA Basketball - Tim Abromaitis is one of college basketball's brightest student-athletes, with myriad national and conference academic honors to his name.

And this week, at the USA Basketball World University Games Team Training Camp at the United States Olympic Training Center, Abromaitis is hoping his penchant for learning -- and learning quickly -- will help him land a spot on the final roster that will compete next month in Shenzhen, China.

Of the 20 players in training camp, only 12 will ultimately make the team and represent the United States when it tips off against Mexico on Saturday, Aug. 13.

Abromaitis knows his classroom prowess means little compared to on-court aptitude in a situation like this -- where finalists for the team are expected to be named after just four practices -- but it can't hurt.

He's got just a few opportunities to learn the international game, learn how to play with new teammates and make an impression on the USA Basketball coaching staff and USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team Committee members.

Not an easy task, for sure.

"Coaches are throwing things at us quick right now, where we've got to learn plays on the fly, and we have a lot of different drills, where we have to be able to just jump in and know it right away," said Abromaitis, who is a two-time Capital One Academic All-American (2010 and 2011) and a two-time BIG EAST Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year (2010 and 2011).

"I don't know if the classroom directly translates into (on-court success), but the focus that it takes to succeed in school is a habit I've grown, and that definitely translates over to basketball."
 

Abromaitis graduated from Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business in May 2010, a full year ahead of schedule and with an impressive 3.73 grade-point average. He then passed right through Notre Dame's intensified one-year MBA program, completing that in May 2011. 

So he comes here to the USOTC with more on his resume than just basketball accolades. But he's got a lot of those, too, including an All-BIG EAST third team nod this past season and an honorable mention notice in 2010, as well as an MVP award at the 2010 Old Spice Classic. 

Trying to earn a spot on the U.S. team, though, is a whole different animal, and he says he's relishing the opportunity to work with such an accomplished roster and coaching staff. He says it's been fun getting to know his new teammates, even if they are competitors for the time being. 

"Right now, we're all on the same team," he said. "Obviously, you're trying to do your best and show well for the coaches who are watching you. But at the same time, the ultimate goal for everybody here is to win that gold medal, so you have to have that in your mind, too. 

"So maybe it's kind of a balance, but we all know what the ultimate goal is for this team and what USA Basketball stands for, so we're all working for that really." 

Everyone in camp, including Abromaitis, is also working on getting back into the swing of college basketball after nearly a whole summer of pickup games, channel flipping and vacations. 

Those are all necessary sidetracks from the rigors of a student-athlete's schedule, but collegiate basketball, especially in the monster that is the BIG EAST Conference, can sometimes be a dog-eat-dog world. 

Getting back on the court, and playing with such intensity right off the bat, is nothing but a good thing for the players in attendance. 

"All summer, all of us have just been at our schools or other places playing pickup games," said Abromaitis, who averaged 15.4 points per game last year and helped the Irish advance to the NCAA Tournament, where they defeated Akron before falling to Florida State. 

"To get on a court with refs and coaches and a lot more structure is something that's definitely good. And I think that's something that can kind of be a springboard for me personally going into the school year. Hopefully, I can build off this experience playing against the best competition in the country. Anytime you do that, it's going to elevate your own game." 

The next two days will tell the story of how long this experience will last for Abromaitis, who will return to the Notre Dame campus this fall as an unclassified grad student, just working on his academic portfolio and while playing one more season for coach Mike Brey. 

He'd love to take a gold medal back with him. 

"Anytime you get to represent your country, it's a dream come true. My goal all summer has been to make this team and to hopefully do well in China. It's definitely what I'm working toward right now. It's going to be a tough weekend, a tough week to get to there, but I've been working hard all summer and I think I'm ready for it."

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