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Perkins could provide all-world defense for Team USA

When Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski [1] were forming the potential pool of players for Team USA, they were looking for a ‘€œtrue center’€ who could guard potential big men all around the world.

They may have found that man in Kendrick Perkins [2].

On Wednesday, Perkins was named to the 27-man roster that is eligible to compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey and, if the team qualifies, in the 2012 London Olympics [3]. The 27 players will be invited to a July mini-camp in Las Vegas, where the roster will be trimmed down going forward.

Perkins’ selection was one which which Krzyzewski – who led the 2008 team to a gold medal – was comfortable because of the center’s ability to play with Hall of Fame talent and his most glaring strength’€¦defense.

‘€œHe plays on a team that’€™s a championship level team and he knows how to play with great players,’€ Krzyzewski said during a teleconference on Wednesday. ‘€œI think he is one of the better defensive players in the league and that really appealed to us about Kendrick.’€

Perkins will be competing with Dwight Howard [4], Brooke Lopez, Ama’€™re Stoudemire and former Celtic Al Jefferson [5] for one of the center spots on the 2012 Olympic team. Colangelo said Perkins could fit in and be the perfect role player on a team that will highlight some of the best talent in the NBA.

‘€œWe are not talking about the top 27 or 28 best all-around basketball players necessarily. Perkins can guard the bigs,’€ said Colangelo. ‘€œHe should be able to perform very well competitively very well in the international game.

‘€œAs we look at our roster there is also a need for how are you going to defend against the bigs that we see on a number of European teams, South American teams and he has the ability to do that. He has a significant opportunity.’€

Perkins is averaging a career-high 11.4 points per game this season, while grabbing 8.1 rebounds a night. He is also averaging just under two blocks a game, and has been one of the most consistent and healthy players for a banged-up Celtics [6] squad this season.

Perkins was the only Celtics player selected to the pool of 27, a list that didn’€™t include first year All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo [7].

‘€œRondo was not responsive to the inquiries regarding his interest,’€ said Colangelo, who said along with Andrew Bynum [8], three or four unnamed players declined the invite. ‘€œSo we just assumed that was the case.’€

The US team is loaded at the point guard position, with Chris Paul [9], Deron Williams and Chauncey Billups [10] all being selected to the pool. Jason Kidd [11] declined the invite, as he retired from international competition after the 2008 Beijing Games with a gold medal.

Nine players and the entire coaching staff return from the 2008 gold medal team, including Kobe Bryant [12] and LeBron James [13]. To see the entire list click here [14].