College stars take their talents to international stage

The 2012 Summer Olympics in London are quickly approaching, and several amateurs from the NCAA are expected to play for their respective countries. The following players are on preliminary rosters of qualified teams:

United States - Anthony Davis (Kentucky) - The predicted No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft may be making a trip overseas before making his professional debut. Davis showed he is a tremendous shot blocker with great size, length and athleticism while leading Kentucky to the national title during his freshman season. Dwight Howard had back surgery in April which make his participation in the summer games impossible, thus opening a void up front on the USA's roster as it selects its final 12. Davis will be the first player to play for the United States without any major professional experience since 1992 when Christian Laettner was selected to the Dream Team.

Following the London games, the NBA will push for the Olympics to implement an under-23 format similar to the one soccer uses to prevent its stars from playing all year round. If the new format is selected and Davis makes the final cut, the 19-year old star will be the only player on the roster eligible to play in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Davis will get his first taste of playing against the elite as he practices with the Mike Krzyzewski-coached U.S. national team.

Great Britain - Andrew Lawrence (College of Charleston) - The 6-1 guard competed for his country in the 2011 qualifying events and is hoping to be a contributing backup guard for Great Britain. This past season as a junior, Lawrence averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 assists per game while leading the College of Charleston to a 19-12 overall record. The Cougars' point guard was a candidate for the 2012 Bob Cousy Award as he consistently displayed his excellent ball handling and passing skills while also serving as a viable scoring option.

Northwestern guard Alex Marcotullio and UAB forward Ovie Soko are both members of Great Britain's preliminary 21-man roster. Marcotullio was a key component off the bench for the Wildcats, who narrowly missed being the first team in school history to reach the NCAA Tournament. He appeared in 29 games and averaged 5.2 points. Soko, who has announced his intention to transfer at the end of the season, averaged 8.3 ppg in 2011-12 for the Blazers.

Australia - Matthew Dellavedova (Saint Mary's-CA) - The Gaels made history this past season by winning both the West Coast Conference regular season and conference tournament championships for the first time in school history. Dellavedova earned the WCC Player of the Year Award and led the team with 22 points in the conference tourney championship game. The 6-4 point guard was a member of the Australian National Team that qualified for the 2012 London Olympics last summer with a series win over New Zealand. He backed up SMC Alum, Patty Mills during the qualifying series.

There are still three spots open in the Olympic basketball tournament.

Robert Loe, who started all 34 games for a Saint Louis Billikens squad that reached the Sweet 16 in 2012, is a member of New Zealand's Senior National Team.

Gregory Echenique, a center for Creighton, started for the Venezuelan National Team this summer, which placed fifth in the FIBA Americas Tournament and will play in an Olympic qualifier.

Karl Towns, a 16-year old center for St. Joseph's High School in Metuchen, New Jersey, made the Dominican Republic's National Team and will compete in the qualifying contests in early July. The young center, who is a highly-coveted NCAA recruit, will be playing alongside NBA forwards under the direction of the DR's coach, Kentucky's John Calipari.

The experience these NCAA athletes get playing against the world's best during their off-season can help them makes huge strides that can only benefit them moving forward. When these amateur players are exposed to a professional work ethic, the result usually makes their college coaches very happy.