Gwangju, South Korea With the final seconds running off the clock in the United States’ men’s basketball team’s 84-77, double-overtime victory in the World University Games championship against Germany on Monday at Yeomju Gymnasium, Kansas University junior Wayne Selden Jr. flung the ball as high as he could, setting off a wild celebration.
The Jayhawks mobbed each other on the sideline opposite their bench, falling into a dog pile. Once they were back on their feet, junior Frank Mason III waved a large American flag that wrapped around his body. The crowd, mostly comprised of South Koreans, started chanting “U-S-A.”
“It was definitely a blessing to be in this position,” Kansas senior Perry Ellis said. “To come out here and play for the USA, with my teammates, we had so much fun playing. It was just a great experience. Hard-fought game against Germany. That was a great team we played. Just blessed to come out with the win.”
After the Jayhawks did a short dance at mid-court, they hopped off the court, slapping hands with fans on the railing behind their bench on their way to the locker room, prepping for the medal ceremony.
“Man, I’m real excited to be able to do this with a great group of guys,” said Southern Methodist University senior Nic Moore, one of the two non-Jayhawks on the roster. “Come over here and just have a great game like that, double-overtime and get a victory. All of the emotions are going through me right now, you know what I mean? It’s going to hit me later tonight.
Photographs from Team USA's gold-medal game against Germany Monday, July 13, at the World University Games in South Korea.
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“The support we had and just to be able to put a gold around our neck. Anybody would feel good doing that.”
It took about 10 minutes for the arena staff to prep the court with red carpets and a long medal podium. Then the teams walked out to the award stage together before they were given their medals. The medals were presented by local college students, aspiring to be flight attendants, who had to carry the medals and stuffed mascots on trays.
At the World University Games, no national anthems are played for the gold medalists. Instead, the FISU (International University Sports Federation) anthem, “Gaudeamus Igitur,” is played, promoting sportsmanship and unity for all countries.
After the Jayhawks had the gold medals placed around their necks and received their stuffed mascots, the national flags of the U.S., Germany and Russia — the gold, silver and bronze medalists — were raised with the FISU anthem playing. Most of the Jayhawks brought their phones out to the court to record videos. Coach Bill Self and other staff stood on the other side of the court, allowing just the players and team managers to stand on the podium during the ceremony.
Once the medal ceremony ended, the Jayhawks were swarmed by fans, arena volunteers and dancers who wanted to take pictures with the latest champions.
“It’s a huge thrill and huge honor,” Self said. “Our team really bonded and came together.”