At the inaugural FIBA Under-17 World Championship, the Canadian Men’s National Team accomplished what few before it had ever done – earn a medal at an international event.
The bronze medal performance is a clear indication Canadian basketball is on the rise on the world stage and should be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
Some of the youngsters who could carry the torch for Canuck hoops are already highly touted prospects south of the border. Considering the recent trend of home grown talent migrating for greener pastures in the United States, the return of some of these prep school standouts has improved the quality of basketball on the national level.
Not all of Canada’s best young players have made the trip state-side, but by no means has that created a disparity between talents. Many resident Canadian players have garnered the same attention as their expatriate peers. In the coming years, Canadians seen playing basketball at a high level is sure to increase. Here are some names to look for:
Cory Joseph, 6-foot-3, Point Guard – Joseph has impressed NCAA recruiters with his stellar play at Findlay Prep in Nevada for the past two seasons and will be taking his skills to the University of Texas this fall. Joseph’s court awareness and shooting range make him one of the top point guard recruits in all of North America. The only thing holding him back from super stardom could be his athleticism, but what he lacks in explosiveness he’ll make up in the only way he knows how – winning. In two seasons with Findlay, Prep Joseph led it to an impressive 62-2 record, collecting two national titles along the way, this after winning a provincial title with Pickering High School in Ajax, Ontario.
It’s a foregone conclusion that Joseph will be a major part of the junior team before making an impact on the senior level.
Duane Notice, 6-2, Guard – Being one of the youngest players on the cadet U-17 team, Notice has been in the spotlight since his freshman year when he averaged 30 points and eight assists per game for the St. Michael’s College School Blue Raider Varsity team in Toronto. His athleticism and versatility have made Notice a hot commodity, earning himself an invite to the Jordan Brand Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York. Getting chosen wasn’t enough for the Woodbridge native as he took home MVP honors for the event. The 15-year-old has expressed his desire to remain in Canada for high school and will undoubtedly be part of Canada basketball for years to come.
Tristan Thompson, 6-9, Power Forward – Thompson has been an intriguing prospect for some time now as he is a unique combination of size and athleticism. He is already being touted as a first-round NBA draft pick and his freshman year at Texas will definitely aid his progression. Having played alongside Joseph the past two years at Findlay Prep, the Brampton native will continue to develop with his countrymen as he is the second piece in what Canada basketball hopes to become a star-studded tandem.
Maurice Walker, 6-10, Center – One of the biggest players available to college recruiters, Walker has the intangibles to possibly make a name for himself on the pro stage. The former Mother Teresa Titan star possesses a highly refined offensive skill set, with an array of post moves and an extremely soft touch around the net. The Scarborough native has a game similar to former Kentucky Wildcat and current Sacramento King DeMarcus Cousins, as his lower base makes him virtually unmovable when he’s parked in the lane.
Having left for prep school in his senior year, Walker improved his stock by showing he can produce against the bigger competition in the United States. He will be able to showcase his talent while playing for the University of Minnesota this coming season and will surely factor into the future of Canada Basketball.
Kevin Pangos, 6-1, Point Guard – For years scouts have scrounged across Canada in hopes of discovering the next Steve Nash, and the search should end upon seeing Pangos play. The Ontario native has been highly regarded as the future face of Canada Basketball and his play at the U-17 tournament showed why the accolades are so grand. The composure and control the 17-year-old possesses are well beyond his years and the comparisons to Nash seem warranted. Pangos led the U-17 squad in scoring and took home top honors as the No. 1 point guard of the tournament. Every time the ball’s in his hands, it seems the right play will be made whether it be finding a teammate or calling his own number. There have been a number of teams expressing interest in Pangos, but he will remain in Canada to complete his senior year before heading to the United States for college. He’s expressed his desire to be a part of the national team for as long as he can play and he will be one of the key components to their success.
Kyle Wiltjer, 6-9, Power Forward – Wiltjer’s ability to post up, shoot from outside, pass and rebound make him one of the most well-rounded recruits in the United States.
Having played his entire high school career in Portland, the 17-year-old is an import who has received offers from a number of schools, most notably Gonzaga and Kansas. Despite his American upbringing, the 6-9 forward wants to represent his nation and will have every opportunity to do so.
Myck Kabongo, 6-1, Point Guard – Continuing with the trend of successful point guards, the Toronto native has showed he’s more than just a pass-first player. In the All-Canada Classic, a tournament showcasing the top talent across the nation, Kabongo exploded for 41 points, using a variety of slashing moves to get to the rim and unleashing a 3-point barrage to take the MVP honors. The 6-1 guard has exceptional quickness and uses it to get to the rim and create opportunities for his teammates. Though not the biggest player, his length is evident on the defensive end as he creates numerous turnovers with his lanky arms. Kabongo is sure to be a contributor to the Canadian contingent and will take his game to Texas and unite with fellow Canadians Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson as they try to bring much needed attention to the Canada Basketball program.