Friday, April 19, 2019

When you think of sports you more than likely associate Canada with hockey. Sure there are a few Canadians sprinkled in the other 3 major North American sports associations, but USA = basketball, Canada = Hockey. That stereotype is slowly dying off. Canadian hoops are on the rise. We see glimpses of what Canada has to offer when it comes to basketball with Andrew Wiggins, Tristen Thompson, Kelly Olynyk, as well as the Canadian GOAT Steve Nash. Those are the only notable Canadian hoopers of the NBA. There’s a new trend of Canadian ballers starting from the high school level set to make an impact on the future of the NBA. Canadian hoopers are demanding respect on every level and America can’t ignore and or overlook them anymore.


Who Already Made It?

The NBA currently has 14 Canadian players, with the most notable being Andrew Wiggins. Given the nickname “Mable Jordan” Wiggins , has been highly coveted since high school. The Ontario native had drawn comparisons to LeBron James from an early age. He hasn’t quite lived up to that name yet, but the 23-year-old has done pretty well for himself. Being three years into his career, Wiggins was the first overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. He was selected by the Cleveland Cavilers, but was immediately traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love. He was NBA Rookie of the Year (2015), made NBA All-Rookie First Team (2015), as well as NBA Rising Stars Challenge MVP (2015). Wiggins has averaged 20.4 points per game in his three years in the NBA.

Tristan Thompson, also from Ontario, was the fourth overall pick in 2011. Selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thompson was a driving force behind the Cavs championship run in 2016. Thompson’s career averages (9.4 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game) aren’t the flashiest stats. Thompson he has proved to be a solid player, and will be in the NBA for awhile. Kelly Olynyk, was selected by the Dallas Mavericks 13th overall in the 2013 NBA draft. The Ontario native was immediately traded to the Boston Celtics for two future second round picks. Olynyk had many comparisons to Maverick great, Dirk Nowitzki. The 7 footer Olynyk can stretch the floor with his range, but is a defensive liability. He is a solid NBA roll player with of 9.5 points per game for his career.


The Future

Since 2009, there have been 15 Canadians in the ESPN top 100 high schoolers. Andrew Wiggins in 2013 was the number one rated high schooler according to ESPN. Canadian high schoolers have been coming to America to play better competition and exposure for years. It seems like the trend is only helping. This 2017 high school top 100 senior class has four Canadian born players, making it the most Canadians on that list ever.


View list here: 2017 ESPN Top 100


Christian David from Milton, ON played at Vermont Academy. He’s committed to play at Butler, and is ranked number 82 in ESPN top 100. Lindell Wiggington from Dartmouth N.S, played at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. He’s committed to Iowa State, and is number 42 in the top 100 according to ESPN. The number 32 and 25th ranked players played on the same high school team. They play at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in TN. Believe it or not, they are cousins. 32nd ranked Gilgeous-Alexander of Toronto, has committed to Kentucky and his 25th ranked cousin, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, also from Toronto, has committed to Virginia Tech.

One player people need to look out for is in the near future is R.J. Barrett. The 6’7 small forward from Mississauga, Ont., Canada, can join Andrew Wiggins in being the second Canadian being named the one number one prospect in ESPNs top 100. He is currently the number one prospect in the 2019 class according to ESPN, and already has offers from Kansas, Arizona, UCLA, just to name a few, and he just turned 17. That’s right born on 6/14/00, yeah 2000, he is a man amongst boys playing varsity at Montverde Academy who lead his team this past season in scoring as a freshman.


Rest of the World is Catching Up

When it comes to FIBA (Federation International Basketball Association) the US has been pretty dominate for the last decade. However that may be in danger as well, we remember when the US men’s team lost in 2004 Olympics getting the bronze medal. We can’t forget that that’s not the only heartbreak the US has suffered when it comes to international play, in 2006 the US received the bronze medal in FIBA. Since then the US men’s international teams have gotten it together, but the young guys, that’s another story. Canada’s FIBA U19 team stunned the US FIBA U19 team beating them 99-87 led by up and coming star R.J. Barrett in the semis of the 2017 FIBA U-19 Basketball World Cup, ending a four year dominating run by the US. This caused the Canadian hoops and the social media world go crazy!

The Canadians didn’t stop there either, this past Sunday Canada’s U19 men’s team faced off against Italy in Cairo Egypt for the gold medal. Once again led by the young phenom R.J. Barrett with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists, Canada claimed their first FIBA gold medal EVER! Not only was Barrett the MVP of the game, but he was named MVP for the tournament as well, averaging 21.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assists.


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