Durant ace a step closer to junior national team

Published July 2, 2005

Durant's Carmine Giardina , a pitcher/infielder, made the latest cut for the USA junior national team and is one of 26 players vying for a spot on the 20-player roster.

"That's huge," Durant coach Ron Fussell said. "(If he makes the team) that would give him a lot of exposure and open a few more eyes. Plus, he'd be playing against some of the best athletes in the world."

Giardina, a 6-foot-3 rising senior, was a Times' all-Hillsborough County pick last spring after going 5-1 with a 1.10 ERA. He also batted .417.

The 26 players were selected from a group of 34 who participated in the Junior National Team Trials this week in Joplin, Mo. Additional cuts will be made in Atlanta in late August, when the player evaluation process continues with practices and exhibition games against the Canada junior national team. The USA squad then will compete in the Pan-Am Junior Championships Sept.2-11 in Villahermosa, Mexico.

BASKETBALL: Two-year starter Aubrey Brown of Brandon will attend Virginia State, signing with the Trojans on Wednesday. In 2004-05, the Division II Trojans were 17-15.

The 6-2 Brown, who averaged 13 points per game last season, helped lead the Eagles to a 52-7 record the past two seasons. He also helped the Eagles advance to the region finals this season and to the semifinals in 2003-04. Brandon finished No.5 among the state's Class 5A schools in 2004-05, according to FloridaHoops.com's postseason ratings.

"I was impressed with coach (Tony) Collins at Virginia State. They play an upbeat tempo and I think I can fit in pretty well there," said Brown, who will play point guard for the Trojans.