The upcoming FIBA Americas Championship, held in Mexico City from Aug. 31-Sept. 12, could result in Canada clinching a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games. Kentucky freshman Jamal Murray is currently in camp with the team trying out and it’s looking like he could make the team as the backup point guard, according to a report from TSN’s Josh Lewenburg.
While Toronto Raptors point guard Cory Joseph will be the starting lineup for Canada this summer, Murray has come on strong in recent months, first with a dominating performance at the Nike Hoop Summit in April and most recently, leading Canada to a silver medal at the Pan American Games in Toronto three weeks ago. That has put Canada in a position where they would like the 18-year-old Murray to compete with them through the middle of September, which cuts into his early class time at Kentucky. The fall semester begins on Aug. 26.
Missing early classes could put Murray’s eligibility in limbo and Canadian Basketball officials have been in contact with Kentucky head coach John Calipari about the matter.
At one point, the idea of Murray breaking camp over some more experienced players at his position seemed like a stretch but after blossoming in a key role for that silver medal-winning team, they would love to have him in Mexico. However, with Kentucky’s first semester scheduled to begin before the tournament opens, his availability remains uncertain. Triano, Steve Nash and Canada Basketball officials are in contact with famed Kentucky coach John Calipari and the NCAA daily, hoping to work something out that would allow Murray to participate in the qualifier. Regardless, they’re happy to have him with the team for workouts this week as he continues to learn and develop.
This wouldn’t have seemed like an issue a couple of months ago, but credit Murray for elevating his play enough to compete for the senior national team. With a lot of young talent on its national team, led by recent Kansas wing Andrew Wiggins, Canada Basketball could be putting a nice core together and they obviously see Murray as a future part of that team.
I hope that things get resolved so that Murray can compete with the senior national team. It’s not great that he would miss some class time early in the year, but if some kind of arrangement could be made to let him play, he’d be getting some great experience competing for a spot in the Olympics with Canada.