The return of Tristan Thompson, along with a whole mess of young cats, is looking to make a once floundering Senior Men's Team a potential powerhouse in the next four years. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
With the hiring of Steve Nash by Canada Basketball to be the new general manager, there was optimism that his presence would be able to coerce the best young ballers back into the National Program. With the announcement of the Senior Men's Training Camp roster earlier this week, that hope looks to now have become a reality. Can Ball Ray takes a look at the roster and a few things that stood out to him ...
By now you have probably already had time to take in the selections to the Senior Men's Training Camp that Canada Basketball had announced two days ago. And, like myself, you were probably pretty impressed at the list of names on the roster. There is a whole lot of talent in the camp this weekend and if this were the beginning of the summer before a major world event, our SMNT would look like a fierce one.
I've been looking at the list a few times a day since the announced roster and there have been a few things that stood out to me.
First, there sure is a lot of NBA representation. Of course, the team has had NBA players on the roster in the past (think Steve Nash, Todd MacCulloch, Bill Wennington and even Rick Fox) but this is the largest amount of them in one camp, likely ever. That is Joel Anthony, Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph plus recently Drafted Andrew Nicholson, Robert Sacre and Kris Joseph. Regardless of what their potential situation is with their given team come October they are all still signed to League teams and this is a great problem to have at this level.
Second, there are not a whole lot of guys from last summer, or any of the last four summers, here. Team stalwarts Jermaine Anderson, Jevohn Shepherd, Aaron Doornekamp and Anthony are here but missing are the faces Carl English, Levon Kendall, Andy Rautins and Denham Brown among others. I don't presume to know what these guys and other guys aren't on this list (I've heard Rautins is nursing injuries and Kendall may have retired from the team) but having them not on this list either speaks to a possible shift in direction as well as an embarrassment of talent riches so to speak. I wouldn't read into this too much now but it's just an interesting point.
Third, there seems to be a lot of young talent here. Now of course almost everyone in the camp is young (sorry Rock, Shep and Joel) but there are 15 college players plus 2 high school players. Of the NBA guys, three are heading into their rookie year and two are League sophomores. And if you think about it, the roster is missing a few other kids that could have been on the roster from both college and high school that could have made this group even younger. If you compare this to the lists of previous summer workout rosters, this is a 180. It seems like the shift to get the young bucks in was no joke and I think this is the smartest move of the new Nash-led regime.
Lastly, there are new names that haven't been associated with the National Program, recently or even ever, in abundance. Of course everyone one that Canada Basketball wants on their team can be at every camp and I'm sure that us fans have a list that may be triple that of CBs so having these new names in camp is exciting as well as promising. Guys like Kris Joseph, Tristan Thompson and Myck Kabongo are guys that have been involved before but have been on hiatus while guys like Andrew Nicholson, Nik Stauskas, Justin Edwards and Braeden Anderson may not have been at all. I can't be anymore excited to see these names, some again, here. When you're looking to build a global power starting with the young talent in the program is about as good a start as you can get.
This entire camp situation has me very optimistic for the coming 2016 Rio Olympics and more immediately the FIBA World Championships being held in Spain in 2014. The talent assembled here is remarkable when you consider the talent that was missing in previous summers and there are some guys not even in camp (ahem, Andrew Wiggins). I think we have some cause for celebration with the first step of the rebuild out of the way.
Is it too early to start my travel planning now?