Move over Steve Nash. Canada’s newest NBA Ambassador has arrived.
The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Texas Freshman Forward Tristan Thompson with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft at Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey.
The selection makes Tristan Thompson, a Brampton, Ontario native the highest Canadian basketball player ever selected in the NBA Draft over the last 50 years.
Vancouver native Steve Nash was selected 15th overall by the Phoenix Suns in 1996.
“I was excited, I just wanted to find my mom and give her a big kiss” said Thompson.
The six-foot-eight power forward averaged 13.1 points, grabbed 7.8 rebounds and had 2.4 blocks a game in the 2010-2011 NCAA season.
Thompson earned Big 12 freshman of the year in March and helped the Longhorns to the Big 12 championship game and the third-round of this year’s NCAA Division 1 basketball tournament.
The last Canadian selected in the first round was centre Jamaal Magloire who was chosen 19th overall y the Charlotte Hornets in 2000.
When asked about his journey that took him from the streets of Brampton, Ontario to shaking the hands of Commissioner David Stern the lengthy and versatile forward had this to say:
“Being the highest Canadian ever drafted just shows how far Canadian Basketball has come along and I’m just so excited”.
This also puts an exclamation mark on a much debated topic on weather Canadian high school basketball prospects should stay home or go south in order to have a shot at the NBA.
“It’s a dream come true, A lot of people back home said you can’t play in the NBA, you got go CIS, you know I went Division one, I did one year at Texas and now I’m in the NBA. I definitively proved a lot of doubters wrong and I’m excited.”
Canada now has seven active players in the NBA, Steve Nash, Joel Anthony, Jamaal Magloire, Andy Rautins, Samuel Dalembert, Cory Joseph and now it newest ambassador in Tristan Thompson.
Thompson becomes the sixth lottery pick in the Rick Barnes era at Texas (Chris Mihm, 2000; T.J. Ford, 2003; LaMarcus Aldridge, 2006; Kevin Durant, 2007; D.J. Augustin, 2008).