So after a few days after they flew to Brazil, it looks like the Junior Men's National Team is officially official.
If you run down the roster the names for the most part should be familiar to you: Andrew Wiggins, Trey Lyles, Duane Notice, Tyler Ennis, Xavier Rathan-Mayes among others. The names not too familiar to you readers will surely be soon enough.
All I can say about this roster is that it looks pretty stacked indeed.
I'll admit that I was a little surprised that a few players were on the list, notably Braxston Bunce, Kaza Keane, but only because I thought that there would be NCAA commitments keeping them from being on the team. They seem to be good on that front and that will certainly be a big boost to the team. Keane is a very heady floor leader that can get to the bucket and make the outside jumper while Bunce is a very, very big body that can score down low and defend the lane well.
The team seems to be big overall in size but whether that is a bonus is yet to be seen. In the world of the hybrid big man, height is increasingly less and less related to a traditional frontcourt player skill set and could prove a gift or a curse for the JMNT. These big guys are all really talented players but outside of Bunce, I don't know if the other kids over 6'8" are back to the basket types or even comfortable in that role right now.
I know that increasing perimeter skills for big men is now the norm but in the international game, will these skills translate to an equalizing affect? I'm on the fence right now.
What I do know is that Canada has some very, very good wing and backcourt players that will be able to help offset what they lack in true post players. Wiggins alone is a one man wrecking crew but coupled with the likes of Ennis and Keane who and feed him the ball and Rathan-Mayes and Notice who can shoot the perimeter jumper, his game will only look that much better and more effortless.
The bottom line for myself is that this is one of the best teams that Canada has fielded at this level. Think of how many of them are ranked in US systems as compared to the last summer's team, which was very good mind you. More importantly, think of a team that could cut a player like Isaiah Watkins and still look pretty damn good. This JMNT has the potential to bring home a medal at this event. And with some of the tough teams like Argentina and Puerto Rico in their poll, that's saying something.
We'll just have to see what the team can do beginning this weekend.
You can check out the FIBA Americas U18 Championship here for all the latest news beginning Saturday.