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Canada Basketball: Trending The Right Way

Canada Basketball

Canada Basketball has a lot to look forward to. Just days ago, their U19 team took home the gold in the 2017 FIBA U19 Games in Cairo, Egypt.

The feat may not be as illustrious as an Olympic Gold Medal, but Canada’s U19 team taking home a gold in the U19 FIBA Games is another sign of moving in the right direction. Look across the NBA right now. You will see a growing list of Canadian players, both in number and prominence. The list includes the likes NBA Champions (Tristan Thompson & Cory Joseph), a #1 Overall Draft Pick (Andrew Wiggins) and numerous budding talents (Jamal Murray, Kelly Olynyk, Trey Lyles). While the list will never compare the United States, it does have a fountain of youth that will make Canada fun to watch for the next couple of years.

Waiting to join the list of Canadian born NBA Players is R.J Barrett, a 6’7 wing playing high school ball for Kevin Boyle at Monteverde Academy. Barrett is the #1 ranked player in the class of 2019, according to ESPN. Playing for a coach who has had his share of lottery picks (Kyrie Irving, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, D’Angelo Russell & Ben Simmons), Barrett appears to be next man up on this list.

“He’s not going to be one-dimensional. He can do a lot of different things.” – Kevin Boyle

He’s a versatile, lengthy athlete who can wreak havoc in transition and score in a variety of ways. He was the talk of the tournament after torching the USA for 38 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists. As an encore, he dropped 18 points in the championship versus Italy. He was the easy choice for tournament MVP. Team USA coach John Calipari tried to throw different looks at Barrett, but the Ontario native had an answer every time. Barrett’s final stat line for the tournament: 21.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. It’s easy to see why he’s the number one player in the class.

While Barrett is still two years from even hitting the college ranks, several of his Canadian teammates will be making their impacts felt as early as next season. Lindell Wigginton, a former ESPN Top 50 recruit will head to Aimes and play for Steve Prohm and Iowa State. Meanwhile 6’6 forward Abu Kigab will join Oregon, a Final Four team from last season.

Highly prominent prep schools like Monteverde, Huntington Prep, Oak Hill and Findlay Prep have given Canadian players a stage on which to shine on at the high school level. Many of the names listed above have played for one of these schools on their way to the NBA, or high Division 1 schools.

Slowly but surely, the world is becoming more familiar with the talent that exists in the county sitting atop ours. With Steve Nash at the helm, and a growing group of talented youth, Canada Basketball has a lot to be excited about.

2015 NBA Rising Stars Challenge

Next weekend, the NBA regular season will be put on hold temporarily for the 2015 NBA All-Star Game weekend. A weekend filled with an abundance of hype already, this year’s weekend has a little extra flare to it due to its location: Madison Square Garden.

While its culmination brings together of the NBA’s most talented stars, there is much more to the weekend than the All-Star game. Fans will pile in to the world’s most famous arena to see events such as the NBA Dunk Contest, Three Point Contest, Celebrity All-Star game and of course, the Rising Stars Challenge.

A game that gives the league’s future all-stars a chance to shine, this year’s NBA Rising Stars Challenge consists of six players that are Hoop Group Alumni. Let’s break down the alumni in the game and see how they faired in the first half of the season.

Michael Carter-Williams | Point Guard | Philadelphia 76ers
The reigning Rookie of the Year is having another solid campaign in the ’14-’15 season, despite the struggles of his team. MCW is currently averaging 15 points per game and dishing out seven assists per game. The second year guard also averages 1.5 steals per game.

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Nerlens Noel | Center | Philadelphia 76ers
Noel found his way to the court this season after sitting last year recovering from ACL surgery. The center from Kentucky is an enforcer in the paint for the 6ers. He is hauling in seven rebounds per game and has 79 blocks on the season. While he has not found his scoring touch yet, he is averaging a modest eight points per game thus far.

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Mason Plumlee | Center | Brooklyn Nets
Mason Plumlee has had a strong second year in the NBA for the Brooklyn Nets. After coming off the bench last season, the Duke alum earned a role in the starting rotation this year, starting ahead of former NBA All-Star Brook Lopez. Plumlee is averaging 10 points and nearly seven rebounds for a Nets team that is fighting for a play off spot in the East.

Cody Zeller | Power Forward | Charlotte Hornets
Cody Zeller is a strong season starting next to Charlotte’s Al Jefferson. He is currently averaging 7.6 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game. The power forward is also a good passer from the post, averaging nearly two assists per game. His production should only go up as he plays alongside Jefferson in Charlotte.

Trey Burke | Point Guard | Utah Jazz
Burke’s numbers are actually slightly down from last year’s great rookie season, but that doesn’t mean his sophomore season is by any means a slouch. The point guard’s averaging more points per game at the break this season (13) than he did last season. He also is leading the Jazz in assists with just under five a game.

Andrew Wiggins | Small Forward | Minnesota Timberwolves
The lone rookie Hoop Group Alum playing in the game, Wiggins is the favorite to receive Rookie of the Year honors this year. Until Kevin Martin’s return to the team, Wiggins was the team’s leading scorer at 15.3 points per game. The rookie is also averaging four rebounds per game, three assists per game and over one steal per game. Only time will tell if he is this year’s Rookie of the Year, but for now we get to enjoy Andrew at the Rising Stars Game.

As always, this year’s Rising Stars Game will feature some of the best rookies and sophomores in the NBA. It will no doubt be an entertaining for all fans to watch. For us, we will have the pleasure of watching six alumni play in the game.The NBA Rising Stars Challenge will take place on Friday, February 13th at 9 pm EST.