Does USA Basketball Have Something To Fear North Of The Border?
A nation renowned for its cold weather, manners, maple syrup and of course its hockey, Canada has never been one known for its basketball. If current trends are to hold true, however, that is all about to change. Aside from point guard Steve Nash, Canada has never had a truly dominant player at any position in the NBA. But with the impending arrival of elite, possibly generational, prospect Andrew Wiggins, the red and white may have a new superstar to cheer for as Nash begins to think about retirement.
Wiggins may be the biggest splash that Canada will feature, but the talent does not stop there. Years of immigration in the 80’s have begun to come to fruition as inner-city hoops have flourished in metropolitan areas such as Toronto and Montreal. Countless Canadian youngsters have been flooding the NCAA scene and players such as Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cory Joseph of the San Antonio Spurs, Robert Sacre of the Los Angeles Lakers as well as many others are just the tip of the iceberg.
Three more Canadians were taken in the 2012 NBA draft as the aforementioned Sacre was taken by the Lakers, Kris Joseph of Montreal was taken by the Boston Celtics and Andrew Nicholson of St. Bonaventure was taken by the Magic with the 19th overall pick. Last season’s draft saw the highest ever selection of a Canadian player as Thompson was taken with the 4th selection.
The surge of Canadian talent has been paralleled by new emerging developmental programs dedicated to extracting and refining Canada’s best prospects. Although most Canadian players will opt to move to an American high school for development, in the summer many choose to return to Canada and play for an assortment of programs.
One such program, and undeniably the top of its kind in Canada is CIA Bounce. The GTA-based program has sent numerous players to the college ranks and currently is headed by Wiggins himself. Other players include Isaiah Watkins and Tyler Ennis, who all helped lead CIA Bounce to a 2nd place finish in a tournament made up of the best AAU teams in not just Canada, but North America.
Canadaian Basketball knows that it is entering a phase never before ventured into, and to put it altogether it has given the general manager position to none other than B.C native, Steve Nash. Having the figurehead of Canadian hoops lead the charge will be huge in helping an emerging program explode, as current Canadian NBA players will have an extra incentive to play for their country with one of the best point guards of the decade giving them a phone call.
Nash did not take long to appoint a head coach, as former Toronto Raptors coach Jay Triano will be the man in charge on the court. Many viewed Triano as the best candidate for the position as he has been an assistant for USA Basketball in the past.
So what could a future Canadian line-up look like? Here at WGTC we decided to try envision what the team could potentially be should Canada qualify for Rio 2016 and here it is:
PG – Myck Kabongo/Kevin Pangos/Tyler Ennis
SG – Jermaine Anderson/Cory Joseph/Andy Rautins
SF – Andrew Wiggins/Kris Joseph/Kyle Wiltjer
PF – Tristan Thompson/Andrew Nicholson/Matt Bonner
C – Joel Anthony/Sim Bhullar/Robert Sacre
Of course, I expect the actual roster to be completely different as more Canadians will inevitably push for spots on the senior men’s national team. With that roster, there would only be 3 holdovers from the national team that failed to qualify for London 2012.
Regardless of who you think will be on the roster, there is no denying that the future is sparkling bright for Canada Basketball.
Who do you think will make the team in 2016? Let me know in the comments below.