Basketball was invented by a Canadian, Dr. James Naismith, in 1891. However, basketball has never been flourished in this country. Canada has long been considered a hockey nation. Basketball continues to grow steadily in this country. Now it’s about to be Canada’s coming out party.
Since the early 80’s the list of successful Canadian NBA players hasn’t been that long. Leo Rautins was the 17th overall pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983. Then there was Bill Wennington, Todd MacCulloch, Rick Fox, Jamaal Magloire, Joel Anthony, Samuel Dalembert and of course the most famous Canadian basketball player Steve Nash.
That isn’t a very long or impressive list. Outside of Steve Nash the two most successful players are Fox and Wennington. Both players were role players on three NBA Championship teams, Fox with the Lakers (2000-2002) and Wennington with the Bulls (1996-1998).
However, the days of unknown Canadian basketball players are about to come to end as Grassroots Canada becomes a force in AAU basketball.
Kris Joseph – Syracuse
Joseph is a 6’7” small forward from Montreal, Quebec. He is about to enter his junior year at Syracuse and should have a more prominent role on the team this upcoming season.
As a sophomore, Joseph averaged 11.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, and was named the Big East Conference Sixth Man of the Year.
With the team losing Wesley Johnson and Andy Rautins, both being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks respectively, Joseph will likely move into the starting lineup.
Joseph is the typical small forward, with great athleticism and leaping ability. He is always active around the basket and is an above average rebounder, mainly due to his explosiveness.
He is currently projected as a mid-late first round pick, however, with a solid year as the man for the Orange his stock could be on the rise.
Robert Sacre – Gonzaga
Sacre is a 7’0” centre from North Vancouver, British Columbia. He has legitimate size as a centre and with the lack of quality big men over the last few years could draw a lot of interest from NBA teams, when he does enter the draft.
He a prominent member of a Bulldogs team that features three Canadian players, the other two being Kelly Olynyk and Mangisto Arop.
Sacre should continue to develop as he is a member of the Canadian National team going to play in the World Championships in Turkey at the end of the month. Playing against the top players in the world will only help prepare him to make the jump to the next level.
DraftExpress.com has him projected as a late-second round pick in next year’s draft but that could easily change by the time June rolls around.
Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, NV and the Texas Longhorns has seemingly fallen in love with Canadian bread players.
Tristan Thompson – Texas
Thompson is a 6’9” combo forward from Brampton, Ontario. He is one of the top prospects in the 2010 class (ranked #6 by Scout, #17 by Rivals, and #11 by ESPN).
At this point in time he is more of a face-up 4-man. He needs to add weight, but currently is able to guard multiple positions. Thompson is great in transition and has tremendous athleticism. His post game still needs development, but that should come with time.
Thompson has a 7-1 wingspan, which makes him great rebounder both on the defensive and offensive glass.
He could easily become Canada’s best front court player ever, however given the history of Canada basketball that isn’t setting the bar too high.
Cory Joseph – Texas
Joseph is the first in the list of talented point guards coming out of Canada right now. He is a 6’3” guard from Pickering, Ontario.
Joseph played his high school ball at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, along with Thompson. Now he has committed to join Thompson at the University of Texas next year.
He is a shoot first point guard, who loves having the ball in his hands. He was named a McDonalds All-American and is one of the highest rated players in the country. Ranked as the number 4 point guard class in the 2010, #8 overall
He is projected to be a first-round pick whenever he enters the draft and with the NBA becoming a point guard driven league, I would not be surprised if he ends up becoming a lottery pick when the day comes.
Myck Kabongo – Texas
Kabongo is another one of Canada’s point guards. He was at St. Benedict’s, in New Jersey, but has decided to transfer to Findlay for his senior season.
He is currently ranked as the 5th highest point guard in the 2011 class, and ranked #24 overall. He is set to follow both Thompson and Joseph to the Texas Longhorns after his senior year.
Kabongo was easily Canada’s top player, during the FIBA Under-18 championship, leading the team to a bronze medal over Argentina, with 15 points and 12 assists. He averaged 19.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists for the tournament.
Pango is the final player on my list of point guards. He is out of Newmarket, Ontario and is one of the few talented Canadian players who decided not to go to the U.S. to play high school ball.
However, he will likely be on a full scholarship at the collegiate level, with interest from many of the top programs, including Michigan and UNLV
He is extremely skilled with the ball in his hands and high basketball IQ. Pangos is a good shooter, talented in the pick and roll, but he is not very effective going to the basket.
He is only 14 years old but is thought to be the next great player in basketball.
Out of Vaughn Secondary School, in Thornhill, Ontario, he is still playing in Canada but will likely make the jump to a U.S. prep school in the next few years.
Wiggins was called the “1st overall prospect in the 2014 class by SportsPressTV.com”
He has a great frame, long arms and is extremely athletic. Wiggins also has great timing on the defensive end.
Wiggins could easily become the best basketball player in Canadian history.
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