USA has asserted dominance in the FIBA U17 World Cup dating back to its inception in 2010, having won gold in all five iterations of the event and sporting a perfect 37-0 record. This year, 34 athletes from the high school graduating classes of 2023, 2024 and 2025 were originally invited to the USA Basketball Men’s U17 National Team Training Camp at the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center for a chance to represent the country. Amongst a talented and deep pool of prospects, the final roster was trimmed down to 12 players.
Pro Insight spent the week in Colorado Springs and caught up with Jeremy Fears, Jr. of the Indy Heat Gym Rats (IN), who is returning for his second consecutive stint with the USA Men’s Junior National Team. Last summer, Fears Jr. helped USA win gold at the 2021 FIBA U16 Americas Championship and averaged 8.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 15.3 minutes. The 6’1” point guard brings high energy and a lock-down mentality as he displayed multiple defensive efforts, applied ball pressure, and picked up his man full-court. With poise and basketball IQ, Fears Jr. is a trusted floor general who effectively runs an offensive system.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Fears Jr. highlighted his relationship with his brother 2025 prospect Jeremiah Fears, why he chose Michigan State and recruiting Xavier Booker and Devin Royal, how he uses his platform to inspire others, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2023 Michigan State commit Jeremy, Fears Jr., from Joliet, Illinois:
Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today? Talk a bit about your background and family.
Jeremy Fears Jr.: I'm originally from Joliet, Illinois. My mom is from Chicago. My dad is from Joliet. I have two younger brothers. One is 15 [years old] and the other one is 13 and I have a little sister who is two and I'm with my mom and dad.
PI: One of your brothers is Jeremiah who has already received a few HM offers.
JFJ: Yeah, Jeremiah Fears. He's 2025. He’s blowing up this summer. He's really been killing.
PI: How would you describe your guys’ relationship?
JFJ: With me and Jeremiah, we compete a lot, but I also try to help him when he's in his games and maybe I'm not in my games. I'll try to give him small points or small tips or talk to him after the game like maybe “you could have done this or that,” so I just always try to help him just ‘cause he’s my younger brother so I see some things maybe that he doesn't.
PI: Have you guys talked about teaming up together at the next level?
JFJ: Well, I mean if the opportunity comes and [Michigan] State is the best fit for him and we have a chance to play together, that would be great, but for him, I want him to go to the best school or the best fit that fits him.
PI: Any other athletes in the family besides your brother?
JFJ: Oh, my dad played. My grandma played basketball. My auntie played basketball, so we’re just kind of a basketball family.
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?
JFJ: Actually, I played baseball for like two years when I was younger and I played football when I was younger, but ever since maybe sixth or seventh grade up, I always played basketball.
PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths?
JFJ: I would describe my game as a playmaking guard, make reads for others, can finish, can shoot, lock down, Mr. Do It All. I want to guard the other team's best player. I just want to try to be effective in as many ways as possible on the court, so I try to do everything.
PI: Who do you model your game after or study on film?
JFJ: Not really any player, but I watch a lot of Marcus Smart, Pat Bev,
Dennis Smith, you know, just players all around and take pieces of their game. Chris Paul.
PI: How would you describe your leadership style?
JFJ: I'll say just always since I was young, I just always have been talking on the court. This is like where I talk the most. I try to help others and help my teammates 'cause if I see something and maybe they don't, I could help them put them in a good position.
PI: By the way, congratulations on your commitment! What ultimately led to you choosing Michigan State?
JFJ: Michigan State was always one of my dream schools and Coach Izzo, one of my favorite coaches. Just the way he coaches and you know, he helps his players. That's really been big for me and the campus, the family — it just felt like a culture program like a family.
PI: What was Coach Izzo’s reaction when you told him?
JFJ: It was exciting. I remember I called them and I told him like “Coach, I'm ready to lock-in and commit.” It was just really big. He was excited and I can't wait. I can't wait to get to State!
PI: Any particular guys you are looking to help recruit to Michigan State?
PI: You played on the USA U16 FIBA Americas Championship team last year — how was that experience?
JFJ: That was great, 'cause I had just come from Peach Jam and I remember my dad calling me like “you got a USA tryout,” so I just caught the next flight to Houston, worked hard and then we made it. Went to Mexico, played with other great players. We won gold. It was just crazy, something I’ve never experienced.
PI: What are you hoping to build upon this time around at the U17 World Cup?
JFJ: They say the World Cup is a lot different from Americas, but just try to win gold. That's the main thing and I want the team to have fun — that’s most important.
PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?
JFJ: I'll maybe say play the game or just watch TikTok.
PI: Who are your favorite TikTokers?
JFJ: Nah, I usually don't follow people. I’ll just be on the “For You” page, just scrolling. Whatever comes up, comes up.
PI: What are your favorite TV shows?
JFJ: One of my favorites, I like All American. All American, Stranger Things. Those are the two right now that's really poppin’ for me.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
JFJ: Favorite music artists… I'll say Lil Durk from Chicago.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
PI: What’s something most people have no idea about you?
JFJ: I’ll say I like to be alone, but also like if you see me, maybe off the basketball court, I don't talk as much as I would on the court. You'll think I talk on the court and off the court a lot, but off the court I really don't say a lot.
PI: Where do you see yourself in five years?
JFJ: In five years, I see myself in the NBA. I don't know what team, but in the NBA.
PI: How are you using your platform to benefit others?
JFJ: I use my platform to help other kids back at home that look up to me or kids that aspire to play at the highest level. Just try to tell them “keep working” 'cause anything could change. I remember at one point I wasn't very good at basketball and then all I did was put in work and you can see the results, so just keep working.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
JFJ: Four separate words…Hard-nosed. Dog, once again. Competitive. And I'll maybe say grimy. Just you gotta do whatever you gotta do to get the win.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
JFJ: At the end of the day, I hope to be remembered as a player as just a teammate that everybody wants to play with, and probably the player that everybody hates to play against. And as a person, just a genuinely good person, you know, you could ask, call if you need anything from me, I'll be there able to help and with no problem.