Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Bennett Ready to Lead Canadian Invasion in NBA Draft
NEW YORK — Anybody with a pulse figures that Canadian Andrew Wiggins will go No. 1 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
But can a Canuck possibly pull that feat off this year as well?
“I’m trying to get that No. 1 spot, too,” Canadian power forward Anthony Bennett told SNY.tv Tuesday night at the Draft Lottery.
Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel seems like a safe bet to go No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who won the rights to the top pick for the second time in three years. The Cavs could pair Noel with young guns Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters in an attempt to lure LeBron James back to Cleveland in 2014.
Bennett, a 6-foot-8 power forward, is projected to go No. 5 to the Phoenix Suns by SheridanHoops.com and No. 6 to the New Orleans Pelicans by Chad Ford of ESPN.
“I’m just excited, just anxious,” Bennett said. “I just want the time to come.”
Bennett wore his left arm in a sling, the result of recent rotator cuff surgery that caused him to miss the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp.
“I’m doing rehab at the beginning of next month,” he said. “The sling comes off the end of this month so It’s just a process but I’m pretty sure it’s going to go well.”
Bennett averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds in his only season at UNLV.
He is one of two Canadians projected to go in the lottery, with Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk the other.
A year from now, Canada is expected to make history when Wiggins, who recently pledged to Kansas, is expected to go No. 1 overall.
“I know we have a lot of great players on the come up,” Bennett said. “We have vets — Steve Nash, Joel Anthony. We have Tristan [Thompson], we have Cory [Joseph], we have people in the draft this year. Even the younger guys in college. We’re on the come up we just gotta keep working.”
By the 2016 Olympics, Canada could have a loaded Senior National Team led by Wiggins, Bennett, Thompson, Joseph, UNLV forward Khem Birch and younger players like Syracuse-bound Tyler Ennis, Florida State pledge Xavier Rathan Mayes, uncommitted senior Trey Lyles and others.
“It would be crazy because last summer there was a Team Canada camp,” Bennett said. “Everybody was over there and it was just a lot of talent under one building and it was just a good feeling.”
Bennett is repped by Canadian Mike George, the former co-director of the CIA Bounce AAU team. Going forward, George could end up representing many of the future Canadian stars, too.
“Speaking for myself, I feel comfortable with him being my agent,” Bennett said.
“Just knowing him for all my AAU career. I feel like I can trust him. I’m pretty sure everybody else thinks like that, too.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.