Daniel Lorenzo Hackett is not only starring for Italy at the U20 European Championship Men in Nova Goricia and Gorizia. The 196cm guard is also very close to filling a major need for Italy's senior national team.
Italy senior national team coach Carlo Recalcati, who is at the U20 competition, has selected the 19-year-old from University of Southern California (USC) for the 18-member preliminary squad for the 2007 EuroBasket in Spain.
"Daniel is the kind of player we need in Italy. He's a big guard who can play point guard. In Italy, we only have point guards who like to run and play quick like (Massimo) Bulleri and (Fabio) Di Bella. We don't have that kind of player in Italy," said Recalcati about Hackett.
Hackett, who was born and raised in Italy before going to high school in California, has been one of Italy's brightest stars at the U20 event with 11.7 points, a team-high 4.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals.
The son of a former American basketball star in the 1970s who played professionally in Italy, Hackett said he has enjoyed playing in the Italian national team system for the first time.
"It's great learning about European basketball and playing with my guys because I grew up with them. It's a nice experience and I'm learning a lot from it," said Hackett, who played in Scavolini Pesaro's system before heading for the U.S.
He added that it would be great honour to represent Italy at EuroBasket.
"It would mean a lot. I don't know if I will get in the 12 that go to Spain. But it means a lot that the coach came out to see me and included me in the 18. I look forward to going out there and playing my game and working with the big guys. And just learn from it."
Still, Recalcati is unsure Hackett will come along quick enough to make the squad for Group D in Alicante against Slovenia, France and Poland.
"I don't know if Daniel is ready. But he's very close to coming into the team. For sure for the future," Recalcati said.
As a freshman last season, Hackett averaged 5.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists in helping the USC Trojans to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. He had one of his best games in USC's second round 87-68 victory over Texas and Kevin Durant, scoring 20 points on nine-of-14 shooting.
Here in Europe, Hackett said he just wants to improve his game.
"I'm adjusting to the game and the referees and how they call the game. It's a different speed of the game. But it's all good," he said.
"USC just told me to work on my game, stay in shape and get better. That's all I got to do. I'm working on my shot, working on my scoring and just trying to get better."
Hackett also said he's looking forward to returning to the U.S. for next season as O.J. Mayo, one of the most highly-touted Americans coming out of high school, is set to join Tim Floyd's team.
Until then, Hackett hopes to make more strides for Italy.