Trials for the team were held in March and April 1960 in Denver. The trials were conducted in the form of an eight team tournament including teams from the reigning NCAA National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes, a team of NCAA All-Stars featuring stars such as Jerry West and Oscar Robertson, an NAIA All-Star team, and the AAU Champion Peoria Caterpillar Cats. The NCAA All-Stars won the competition convincingly, and so Pete Newell was named coach with Warren Womble as his assistant.
The trials came at a time when the AAU and NCAA were wrestling for control of USA Basketball and the make-up of the team represented that uneasy truce as the team was made up of seven collegiate stars, four AAU players and one representative of the US Armed Forces (guard Adrian Smith). This compromise meant that many top college players were left off the team, including Ohio State's John Havlicek and Providence guard Lenny Wilkens.
The team went 8-0 in the Olympic tournament, held in Rome, averaging 101.9 points per game and holding their opponents to 59.5. Five Americans averaged double-figures - Oscar Robertson (17.0), Jerry Lucas (17.0), Jerry West (13.8), Terry Dischinger (11.8) and Adrian Smith (10.9). Lucas was the star of the medal round, as he scored 25 points in the gold medal game against Brazil, matching his total in the previous game against host Italy.
The 1960 team is thought to be one of the best amateur teams in basketball history. Ten members of the squad went on to play in the NBA and four players from the team - Robertson, Lucas, West and Walt Bellamy have individually been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as have head coach Pete Newell and Dutch Lonborg, who was on Newell's staff as team manager. Other career distinctions by team members include Dischinger's NBA Rookie of the Year Award (an award also received by Robertson, Bellamy, and Lucas) and Adrian Smith's NBA All-Star Game MVP in 1966. The team was elected to the US Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984.
In 2010, along with the "Dream Team," the 1960 US Olympic men's basketball team was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a unit. The election marks only the seventh and eighth teams so honored.