With all the turmoil this past summer regarding the Canadian Men’s Senior Basketball team, it quickly became obvious that a lot of work still had to be done to return the program to that of an elite group.
Numerous grass-roots suggestions have been made, but perhaps the most obvious is to build from the Raptors out. With the recent on-court success of the team, not to mention its rebirth in terms of popularity, it would seem paramount to ensure that the Dinos were part of this basketball renaissance.
Well, late last night it seems like another small step for Canadian Men’s basketball in the country occurred.
It was announced that the D League’s Idaho Stampede would be hosting open player tryouts for the upcoming season at Humber College in Toronto.
From the Raptors press release:
"This is such an invaluable opportunity for our team and a great way to fill our roster," said Stampede Head Coach, Bryan Gates. "We are thrilled to be heading to Toronto and it would not be possible without the help from the Raptors organization."
"Our club is excited to be partnered with the Idaho Stampede," said Toronto Raptors Director of Player Personnel, Jim Kelly. "This is the
perfect chance for many Canadian players to show the Development League and the NBA their talent. We will be watching."
Open tryouts offer athletes an opportunity to showcase their talents in front of Stampede coaching staff, including head coach Bryan Gates.
Players will compete to earn an invitation to the Stampede's official Training Camp, which is scheduled to begin November 14.
The Idaho Stampede tip-off their 11th season, and third in the NBA Development League, in November.
This story may not make a lot of headlines in the media, but I think for the continued development of basketball in this nation, something we’ve discussed so often since our inception three years ago, events like this are crucial.
Even if none of the Canadian players who try out make the club, its effect is two-fold:
On one hand, it shows Canadian basketball players that there are increased opportunities for them professionally.
On the other, it fosters ties between an import element of the NBA and the Canadian basketball arena.
If you think about how the rest of the world (especially Europe) caught up to the US in international play, it’s because of the vast improvements in their grassroots basketball systems.
One can only hope that this camp is an example of the continued progress of a similar state of affairs here in our own nation.
Is a Raptors' specific D League team on the way eventually?
I'd be willing to bet that's the case but until then, it's good to see moves like this being made, which can only help steer the growth of Canadian basketball in the right direction.