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Birch opens up about Pitt ... Yikes.

If you don't already know, Birch is on the way to UNLV for next season and he recently opened up about his experience at Pitt to a few of the Pittsburgh area media outlets and it wasn't pretty. He essentially is saying not so flattering things about the players and paints a picture of the program that is not good. The only question that I had when I read this earlier this morning is, Why? I'm not sure this was the best move for Khem but he did it anyway. There is obvious frustration on his part about being there if he were to come out and say these comments but why now? Why feel the need to air it out in the local media? Anyway, I just hope he can turn his young collegiate career around because if he can't this will be a point of reference for many.

Birch is Runnin' to UNLV

This news broke out late last night and I figured I'd post the link now. It came down to Florida and UNLV and Khem Birch, the highly prized reclassified-early-to-go-to-PItt-only-to-transfer-ten-games-later forward is heading to Las Vegas. I personally thought that he would end up at Gonzaga since his friend Kevin Pangos was already there plus the team has had NCAA Tournament success. On top of that, Coach Mark Few has had been able to turn guys into very good players. Obviously that wasn't enough and Birch is heading to the glitz and glamour of the Strip. He fits in well with the currently UNLV system of run and run and he'd likley be able to play between the four and five spots, possibly even the three if he can get his perimeter game up to snuff (don't expect that anytime soon though). The big question I have is whether he can handle the pressure there. UNLV is in a city of many distractions outside basketball and the spotlight will be intense since he's the last All American on the campus in apparently 25 years. There are rumours that Shabazz Mohammed, the highly coveted high school senior is looking favorably at UNLV now that Birch is signed so maybe this could be the turnaround that the Rebels need to get back to the top of the NCAA like they were at in the 90s with LJ, Plastic Man and company. Regardless, we wish him the best of luck here. And I don't need to remind you that it's now a sink or swim situation for him. This is his last D1 stop if he plays a game so it has to work this time.

Khem Birch Stars in All American Game

With a host of star power in the annual McDonald's High School All American game, including two other star Canadians in Myck Kabongo and Kyle Witjer, Khem Birch clearly had the best game of the three. Both Kabongo (7 rebounds, 5 assist) and Wiltjer (he had 11 points) did not look out of place among the elite by any means but Birch had 15 points, 10 rebounds (9 on the O end) and 6 blocks in the game and showed a lot of energy and quickness. I think the most impressive thing about Birch was his second jump off the floor that is something he'll use to his advantage in the Big East Conference next season at Pitt. His great performance comes after there were reports that he was not impressive in the training days leading up to the game. I bet those people are eating their words now. Oh yeah, the East beat the West 111-96.

Kabongo, Birch and Wiljter are Jordan Branded

Yes, yes people. As I suspected, the three Canadians named Myck Kabongo, Khem Birch and Kyle Wiltjer who were selected to the McDonald's All American Game were also selected to the Jordan Brand Classic. Their selections mean that they represent the largest contingent of Canucks in the spotlight game not including the International game that had three players participate last year. This means that these three players will likely not be going in for the All Canada Classic due to the two all star game rule the NCAA has for high school players but it does signify that they are definite elite level players. Congratulations to all three. This is a definite honor that not many, let alone Canadians, get.

Record Three Canadians Named All Americans

So the word is now official, Myck Kabongo, Khem Birch and Kyle Wiltjer will be participating in the coveted McDonald's All American Game happening next month. This tops last season's duo of Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson who were nominated to the game. These three players suiting up for the game should be a wake up call to not only the Americans but more importantly to Canadian basketball fans. The game in this country is developing some talent (no matter where they play their ball) and this should remind all of us that despite any current shortcomings in our talent pool, the future remains very bright. We also want to give a big shout to all the Canadians that were nominated also but were not selected. They deserve some recognition, and respect, for even making the short list. Now it's just a matter of who will now suiting up for the Jordan Brand Classic a few weeks later ...

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