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Old 02-15-2011, 05:03 PM   #1
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Default The Future of Canadian Basketball

It's hard to stay positive if you're a fan of Canadian basketball. Since the Sydney Olympics, it has been one disappointment after another, from high profile players opting out, players quitting the team, and just plain underperformance. Canadians in the NBA consist of older guys uninterested in playing for the team (Nash, Magloire), guys who quit on the team (Dalembert), or guys who just are unable to have much of an impact (Andy Rautins, Joel Anthony). It's so bad that right now Canada has slipped out of the top 20 in world men's basketball. We went winless at the last world-championships. It's hard to imagine that this isn't rock bottom.

At the same time, looking ahead, there's reason to think that all might change in the next few years, as the Canadian prospect pipe has looked better than at any other time in the program's history. The U17s won a bronze, the U19s finished 7th; the only other countries to finish in the top 8 in both tournaments were the US and Australia, meaning that this group matches up very well against their international peers. For the first time, it can actually be called a pipe. Here are the key guys: (ages may not be exact, as it's hard to find a birth date listed for many of them)

Kris Joseph: (22 years old, SF) Currently slotted to go as high as top-20 in this year's upcoming draft. He's the leading scorer at Syracuse, which is currently ranked 20th nationally.

Tristan Thompson: (19 years old, PF) He was an All-american in his final year of high-school, signed with Texas, considered one of the 10 best prospects of his class. Has been a key component of Texas's season, where they are currently ranked #2 nationally. Expected to be a top 15 draft pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Hard worker, fantastic athlete, and very solid in the low post.

Cory Joseph: (19yo PG) Very similar path to Thompson so far, also plays at Texas, also all-american, and even went to the same prep-school. May spend another year in college, but will likely be a first-rounder whether he goes this year or next. Solid distance shooter, and excellent at getting into the lane.

Myck Kabongo: (18yo PG) Will be going to Texas next year, and is also an all-american. Went to the same prep school as Thompson and C. Joseph, and is an all-american. He's considered one of the top two PGs of his draft class, and is a classic play-making guard who plays excellent defense, and has good size for his position.

Khem Birch: (17yo C) Currently considered the best C of his age class. Also an all-american. Still needs to grow a little to have legitimate Center size. Is forgoing his senior HS year to play at Pittsburgh next year.

Those five guys are probably (hopefully) the core that our future national basketball teams will be made of. Perhaps the biggest question mark is whether basketball Canada is able to keep these guys in the fold. It helps that they have been playing together for years and many of them (particularly Thompson, C. Joseph, and Kabongo) are good friends. From what I've seen, their attitudes about the Canadian program are really positive.

Obviously these are young guys and a lot can happen to take them off-course, but it's definitely an advantage to get on a high-profile path early in their careers so that they'll get the best development opportunities. The reason I'm posting this now is that with the NCAA tournament coming up, there will be an excellent opportunity for Canadians to start to see some of these guys in action. I've been watching as many Texas and Syracuse games as I can, which isn't very many, but I look forward to seeing more of these guys.


There are a few other guys who could find their way to the NBA, and long-term, there are a few intriguing things for Canadian basketball:

Sim Bhuller and Tanveer Bhuller (17yo, C; 15yo, C): these two guys are notable for one main reason - their sheer size. They're already larger than the Lopez twins. Specifically, they are 7'4, 280 lbs and 7'2, 260 lbs respectively, and reportedly still growing. Born to immigrant parents, they're relatively new to the game, but actually show a pretty sweet touch, given their size and background. Whenever you see a young prospect that large, you immediately start worrying about whether their knees will hold up, but it's certainly worth watching. Both are at a prep school in the US this year, and have interest from top college programs. Proper development will make or break them.

Andrew Wiggins: (age 15, SF): Son of former NBA player (who ruined his own career with substance abuse) Mitch Wiggens, he's absolutely electrifying to watch, and completely dominates his own age group, and has been coming to the national team camp to play against older guys for a couple years. He was a key member of the team that captured bronze at the U17 tournament. Some people are already talking about him having the talent to go first-overall in his draft class, but it's really, really to early to say that. Other than a little bit of national program exposure, he's competing against relatively weak opposition in Ontario. When he makes the jump to US high-school ball next year, we'll have a much better read on him.

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Old 02-15-2011, 05:08 PM   #2
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Its nice to see that Canada is developing some good talent in Basketball. However, I feel the main reason why there doing so poorly on the international stage is the consistent presence of Leo Rautins. We can't even beat New Zealand in a FIBA match. He should have been fired from the program years ago
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Old 02-15-2011, 05:13 PM   #3
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Its nice to see that Canada is developing some good talent in Basketball. However, I feel the main reason why there doing so poorly on the international stage is the consistent presence of Leo Rautins. We can't even beat New Zealand in a FIBA match. He should have been fired from the program years ago
Yeah, I'd love to see a coaching change too. Honestly I'm not sure if there's somebody else waiting in the wings who could take over.
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:31 AM   #4
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Khem Birch: (17yo C) Currently considered the best C of his age class. Also an all-american. Still needs to grow a little to have legitimate Center size. Is forgoing his senior HS year to play at Pittsburgh next year.
How is this possible?
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:10 AM   #5
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I don't think Rautins is the problem. I think they bend over for guys like Dalembert who comes in, thinks he's the cat's meow, and screws up chemistry and game plans.

I think consistency is what the program needs and for now its Rautins.
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:04 AM   #6
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I disliked Rautins when he was a Raptor colour guy, never impressed me with his analysis. Either vague bordering on useless or vanilla cliche.
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:39 AM   #7
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Didn't see this posted anywhere:

http://tsn.ca/nba/story/?id=354073
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:16 AM   #8
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How is this possible?
I don't know the details, he was widely thought to be one of the top-ranked prospects in the 2012 class, and then he reclassified to 2011 a couple months ago.
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:37 AM   #9
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I don't know the details, he was widely thought to be one of the top-ranked prospects in the 2012 class, and then he reclassified to 2011 a couple months ago.
Odd, lots of players finish high school a semester early and enroll in college for the winter semester, but to jump a whole year is incredibly strange. He'd still have to actually be eligible to enroll in the university so maybe he took a lot of summer classes.
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:52 AM   #10
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:08 PM   #11
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There's also a bunch of Canadians from Gonzaga that will likely represent Team Canada in the near future.
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:09 PM   #12
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Odd, lots of players finish high school a semester early and enroll in college for the winter semester, but to jump a whole year is incredibly strange. He'd still have to actually be eligible to enroll in the university so maybe he took a lot of summer classes.
Ah, I think I figured it out. He was originally expected to do a post-graduate year of high-school (I didn't know that was an option) that would have made him part of the 2012 class, but then opted out of it. Click on the 'on-the-trail' tab here.

http://espn.go.com/mens-college-bask...523/khem-birch
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Old 02-16-2011, 01:08 PM   #13
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There is a blurb in the Calgary Herald today that Vancouver is looking for a return of an NBA franchise.

http://www.news1130.com/news/local/a...k-to-vancouver

There are reports the Aquilini family -- which owns the Canucks -- is interested in buying the New Orleans Hornets and bringing the team to Rogers Arena.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:22 PM   #14
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There is a blurb in the Calgary Herald today that Vancouver is looking for a return of an NBA franchise.

http://www.news1130.com/news/local/a...k-to-vancouver

There are reports the Aquilini family -- which owns the Canucks -- is interested in buying the New Orleans Hornets and bringing the team to Rogers Arena.
Bring back Big Country!
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Old 05-08-2012, 11:42 AM   #15
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Nash is appointed GM of Canada's senior men's team. Basically, his job will be to get all these young guys to buy into the program and compete at the senior level. There's some criticism of this based on the fact that he often didn't answer the call himself, but I think that he needs to be able to sell them on the idea that as a team, this group has a chance to do something special.

http://tsn.ca/nba/story/?id=395377

As well, the original post in this thread is now woefully out of date. Lots of new guys emerging and looking like legit NBA talents: Pangos, Nicholson, Bennett (entering NCAA next year), while Kabongo struggled at Texas, and Birch quit on his program. Best news is that Wiggins continues to be seen as a potential superstar. Even with the occasional disappointment, this is still shaping up to be a fantastic generation of players.
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:05 AM   #16
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Nash is appointed GM of Canada's senior men's team. Basically, his job will be to get all these young guys to buy into the program and compete at the senior level. There's some criticism of this based on the fact that he often didn't answer the call himself, but I think that he needs to be able to sell them on the idea that as a team, this group has a chance to do something special.

http://tsn.ca/nba/story/?id=395377

As well, the original post in this thread is now woefully out of date. Lots of new guys emerging and looking like legit NBA talents: Pangos, Nicholson, Bennett (entering NCAA next year), while Kabongo struggled at Texas, and Birch quit on his program. Best news is that Wiggins continues to be seen as a potential superstar. Even with the occasional disappointment, this is still shaping up to be a fantastic generation of players.
Kabongo struggled but definitely has a ton of potential. He made a wise decision coming back as he needs to mature mentally and physically. The reason a lot of one and doners go to UT is not only because Barnes prepares them for the pros, but also their strength coach Todd Wright is the best in the country and can bulk them up. Kabongo showed that he can take over a game a couple times last year, but he on some possessions he might as well have just walked up to the other team and handed them the ball. Texas had 4 freshman starters last year with one player over 6'7". Kabongo didn't have a lot of help in games if J'Covan Brown decided not to show up. This next year should be different. 4 returning starters and a legit big man as a frosh. If Kabongo doesn't show up this year then I would worry.
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:08 PM   #17
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Kabongo struggled but definitely has a ton of potential. He made a wise decision coming back as he needs to mature mentally and physically. The reason a lot of one and doners go to UT is not only because Barnes prepares them for the pros, but also their strength coach Todd Wright is the best in the country and can bulk them up. Kabongo showed that he can take over a game a couple times last year, but he on some possessions he might as well have just walked up to the other team and handed them the ball. Texas had 4 freshman starters last year with one player over 6'7". Kabongo didn't have a lot of help in games if J'Covan Brown decided not to show up. This next year should be different. 4 returning starters and a legit big man as a frosh. If Kabongo doesn't show up this year then I would worry.
Yeah, that's good context, and staying in college was definitely the right decision. Definitely too early to start writing off Kabongo. I admittedly didn't get to watch a lot of him this year, but it seemed like his biggest problem was a lack of consistency, which is pretty-much the most common problem in high-profile freshmen. Looking forward to seeing what he can do with another year of experience under his belt.
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Old 05-18-2012, 12:48 PM   #18
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More good news for Canada's future prospects: Canada's team for the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, which is a U17 league that matches up teams from various regions and cities. The Canadian team is 14-0 this year, going into the final tournament next weekend. Which means, arguably, Canada is producing talent on-par right now with any single region of the US. And it's another opportunity to get Canadian guys playing together at a young age at a high level. Wiggins and Ennis leading the team is no surprise, they've both been on NCAA and NBA radars for a while, but Xavier Rathan-Mayes has really emerged as another potential star in the program. Lots of guys on this team will get much more NCAA scout exposure as a result of this team.
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Old 05-19-2012, 01:09 PM   #19
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Huge development today: Canadian/US dual-citizen Trey Liles has announced that he's going to play for Canada in the Americas U18 tournament. He's somebody who could, realistically, be in the mix for the US team, but will be a focal-point on team-Canada.
Combined with Wiggins, that gives Canada two potential top-10 recruits in the 2014 class (Liles is currently ranked 7th overall by ESPN). Those two could be an absolute force together...
Might be reading a little too-much into it, but I wonder if this is already a sign of the impact that Nash can have in terms of making the program something that young guys want to be a part of.
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Old 05-20-2012, 09:18 AM   #20
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Might be reading a little too-much into it, but I wonder if this is already a sign of the impact that Nash can have in terms of making the program something that young guys want to be a part of.
I don't think thats a huge stretch. Good stuff.
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