Jay Triano Says Kentucky, Canada Working to Get Jamal Murray to Olympic Qualifying; Wiggins In; Thompson TBD; Ennis Has Torn Labrum | Zagsblog
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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.
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Thursday / June 20.
  • Jay Triano Says Kentucky, Canada Working to Get Jamal Murray to Olympic Qualifying; Wiggins In; Thompson TBD; Ennis Has Torn Labrum

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    JAMAL MURRAYBy JOSH NEWMAN

    It appears the biggest deterrent for Jamal Murray in his quest to play for the Canadian National Team later this summer at the FIBA Americas Championship is not making the squad via training camp, but his commitment to the University of Kentucky.

    Coming off a tremendous showing earlier this month at the Pan American Games, the 18-year-old sensation is now in line to help his country qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics at FIBA Americas. The problem is, the event runs Aug. 31-Sept. 12 in Mexico. Classes begin in Lexington on Aug. 26.

    According to a report from The Sporting News on Tuesday, Wildcats head coach John Calipari has a “drop-dead” date the 6-foot-5 point guard would have to arrive on campus to begin the fall term and be eligible to compete for the full season. That, not getting through camp, is the big issue right now.

    “We think he’s at this level and he’s going to be a part of this program for the future, so we’re trying to get him involved right now,” Canadian National Team head coach Jay Triano told SNY.tv on the 4 Quarters Podcast Wednesday afternoon. “The biggest hurdle we’re going to have is the University of Kentucky because we want to make sure he does everything right by the school.

    “Obviously, we want him to be a part of our team and that’s something we’re going to have to work out over the next couple of weeks.”

    Murray’s ascension to the point where people are trying to get him onto the Senior National Team for its biggest competition in recent memory has been drastic. Triano, a Trail Blazers assistant, was in Portland on April 11 when Murray scored 30 points to lead the World Team past the United States at the Nike Hoop Summit. At that point, Triano thought Murray was ready for the National Team, so a plan was set in motion.

    Canada Basketball officials held Murray back from the Under-19 World Championships with an eye having him playing at Pan Am. He was unexpectedly brilliant, averaging 16.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists in five games, highlighted by scoring all of his 22 in the fourth quarter and overtime in a semifinal win over the United States. Canada finished with the silver medal after having never medaled at the event.

    “We anticipated he would get minutes and he would play, but we didn’t know to what level,” said Triano of Murray, who came off the bench for Canada in all five games, but was always on the floor in crunch time. “Early in our first couple scrimmages, we saw the kid had a good quickness to him. He could get to the rim, he knew how to make plays, knew how to score the ball and the more time we spent with him, we just felt he could be a major contributor to this team. He started earning more and more minutes as the tournament went on.”

    Canada is attempting to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since the 2000 Sydney Games when Steve Nash led it to a seventh-place finish. The top two teams at FIBA Americas are through to Rio. The third, fourth and fifth-place teams will be put in the 12-team FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which will be contested next summer. The top three finishers out of there punch tickets to Rio.

    Andrew Wiggins in, Tristan Thompson TBD

    Triano has long said that he expects Canada’s growing stable of NBA talent to play at FIBA Americas. Of his two biggest NBA names, reigning Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins is in, while Cleveland Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson is in a holding pattern as he is still a free agent.

    Wiggins told reporters back in April that he would play for his National Team this summer. At this point, Thompson is no sure thing because even if he does sign a new contract in a timely fashion, there is still one major hurdle to clear.

    “Andrew Wiggins is 100 percent on board, as are the Minnesota Timberwolves,” Triano said. “As soon as Tristan gets his contract settled, whether we can get it insured in time, that’s going to be the big issue for us.”

    Other Canadian-born NBA players expected to be in the mix for FIBA Americas include Nik Stauskas, Kelly Olynyk, Cory Joseph, Andrew Nicholson, Robert Sacre and Anthony Bennett. Nicholson and Bennett both played for Canada at Pan Am.

    Source: Ennis Has Torn Labrum

    Triano ruled out Milwaukee Bucks second-year point guard Tyler Ennis, who had shoulder surgery. A source confirmed to SNY.tv that the former Syracuse star has a torn labrum, but is expected back in October.

    Ennis would have been a big addition to Canada’s point guards. As of now, Joseph is the presumed starter at the point, with Murray potentially having to tangle with Junior Cadougan among others at Canada’s FIBA Americas training camp. Cadougan was the starting point guard at Pan Am.

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