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.
Canada Hoping Wiggins, Thompson, Joseph Play Together in Olympic Qualifying; Canada Launches High School All Star Game
At the start of the 2014-15 NBA season, there were 13 Canadians on NBA rosters.
That group included back-to-back No. 1 picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, as well as other rising stars like Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Ennis.
The Canadian players eclipsed the highest previous international total of 11, achieved by France at the start of the 2010-11 season.
Now as we move toward a critical summer that will include the Pan-Am Games in Toronto and Olympic Qualifying in Mexico, Canadian head coach Jay Triano tells SNY.tv he hopes to have all of the core young guys together at both events.
“The plan is for all of our guys to play in the Pan-Ams so that we can use it for prep for the qualifying tournament,” Triano, also an assistant with the Portland Trail Blazers, told SNY.tv. “However, we haven’t had a chance to talk to the NBA teams yet so nothing is formal. We know some guys are going to have to play in summer league, some may not have contracts so insurance could be an issue. So as I say it is a goal to have them all play, but there are lots of variables that are in play.”
Among those variables is the fact that both Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Joseph (San Antonio Spurs) are in contract years.
Thompson, who reportedly turned down a four-year, $52-million offer from the Cavs, could accept Cleveland’s $6.8 million qualifying offer this summer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2016.
Joseph, meantime, has a $3.2 million qualifying offer from the Spurs, but could opt to leave and potentially reunite with Thompson, his old friend, who is repped by fellow Rich Paul client.
Wiggins, who just went off for 30 points on his 20th birthday in a loss to the Houston Rockets, told SheridanHoops.com that he will “most likely” play in the Olympic qualifying tournament, which is good news for Canada.
Tony McIntyre told SNY.tv he expects his son, Ennis, now with the Milwaukee Bucks, to play in both the Pan-Am Games and Olympic qualifying.
“With it being in Toronto and with it begin a national event, it make sense for the Canadian kids to represent in Canada,” McIntyre told SNY.tv of the Pan-Am Games.
While Canada’s top players may not all commit to the Pan-Am Games, the hope is they compete in Olympic qualifying.
Canada failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, the former world championships, but many expect it could be a power by the time of the 2020 Olympics.
“The future’s going to be great,” Triano told me a year ago. ”But it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen at the next Olympics, it might be the following Olympics.”
CANADA LAUNCHES HIGH-SCHOOL ALL-STAR GAME Canada Basketball also announced Wednesday its supporting partnership for the inaugural BioSteel All Canadian Basketball Game (ACBG), a high school all-star game taking place on April 14 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
The event will include a Rising Stars Challenge, Slam Dunk Contest and Skills Competition on April 13.
“We’re excited to support the BioSteel All Canadian event. It’s a great opportunity to foster alignment within our national structure and bring the Canadian basketball community together,” said Michele O’Keefe, Executive Director, Canada Basketball.
The event will feature the top 24 under 18 male athletes (born 1996 or later) who are either Canadian-born or enrolled in a Canadian institution. The top 24 will come to Toronto to work with Canadian coaches and trainers in a series of events, including: on-and-off court training, community outreach, skills competitions and the all-star game.
Canadian point guard Jamal Murray, who just turned 17 and starred at the recent Basketball Without Borders Camp in New York, is eligible for the game, as are fellow Orangeville Prep stars Thon and Matur Maker.
“BioSteel is committed to growing the game of basketball in Canada and we created this game as a platform to celebrate the talent we have across our country,” said John Celenza, President of BioSteel. “We’re pleased to be working with Canada Basketball on this new initiative and look forward to showing the world what we have to offer.”
A truly Canadian event; provinces and territories will be represented throughout the years, either with a seat on the selection committee or through athlete, coach and high performance staff participation.
“The fact that a game of this nature is taking place in Canada, supported by a great Canadian company like BioSteel and Canada Basketball, is a testament to the growth and popularity of the game, as well as the depth of talent we have in this country,” said Jesse Tipping, Executive Director of the BioSteel All Canadian Basketball Game.
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.