With the ongoing Pan-American Games and the FIBA Americas Championships scheduled for late August, this summer is an important one for Canada Basketball as head coach Jay Triano looks to lead the team to a spot in next summer’s Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. Saturday the team for the Pan-American Games was announced, and among the 12 players who will suit up for Triano are three who will play college basketball next season.
Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer, Oregon’s Dillon Brooks and Kentucky’s Jamal Murray all made the cut, as did current NBA players Anthony Bennett (Minnesota), Andrew Nicholson (Orland0) and Sim Bhullar (Sacramento).
There are other recent ties to college basketball on the roster, with guards Junior Cadougan (played at Marquette), Brady Heslip (played at Baylor) and Daniel Mullings (played at New Mexico State), and forward Melvin Ejim (played at Iowa State) being selected. Aaron Dornekamp and Carl English complete Canada’s roster for the Games, with competition in men’s basketball beginning July 21.
All three current college players on the roster have prior international experience, with Brooks being a member of Canada’s U19 team that played at the FIBA U19 World Championships in Crete earlier this summer. Brooks was one of the top scorers in Crete, averaging 18.8 points (second in the event), 6.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
Wiltjer represented Canada at the World University Games two years ago, and Murray played for Canada’s U17 team in last summer’s FIBA U17 World Championships.
Oregon’s Dillon Brooks soars for a two-handed dunk in Canada U19’s win over Australia
Dillon Brooks and the Canadian U19 team began the preliminary round in the 2015 FIBA World Championships with a narrow 74-71 win over Australia in Group C play at the Heraklion Indoor Sports Arena on the island of Crete in Greece.
Like last summer at the FIBA U18 Americas Championships in Colorado, Brooks was the star, scoring a game-high 22 points and throwing down this thunderous two-handed dunk in traffic early in the first quarter.
Brooks, who averaged 11.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game last season at Oregon, headlines a Canadian team that includes UNLV commit Justin Jackson, a four-star commit in the Class of 2016, Harvard forward Chris Egi and incoming Harvard sharpshooter Corey Johnson.
Canada continues pool play on Sunday against Tunisia, which lost to Italy earlier in the day.
FIBA has the World Championships for U19 in late June and the Canadian national team has a number of Division I college basketball players trying out for its team. A 19-man tryout group was assembled for June 6-10 and Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, Harvard forward Chris Egi, Missouri wing Montaque Gill-Caesar, UNLV guard Jalen Poyser and Seattle guard Jadon Cahee made the list.
UNLV commit Justin Jackson is also trying out for the team and there are a few other potential Division I prospects among the group. This same Canada group captured the silver medal at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 championships in Colorado Springs, so they’re going to be one of the stronger teams in the field.
Some of these players could greatly benefit from playing in this competition and it’ll be interesting to see if Canada can make a push for another medal.