Canada's men's basketball program a growing force after influx of young talent

Marc J Spears

After winning one Olympic medal in almost a century of existence, Canada's men's basketball program has received an influx of young talent, including the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft (Anthony Bennett) and the top newcomer to college basketball (Andrew Wiggins).

View photos

And some of those young Canadian players think mighty USA Basketball should start to worry about its northern neighbors.

"Most definitely," said Cleveland Cavaliers forward and Toronto native Tristan Thompson. "They still have the Chris Pauls, Kevin Loves, those guys that are talented.

"But as they start getting older, we're going into our prime with young guys that are talented and can make noise."

Canada's lone Olympic medal in eight appearances was a silver in 1936. The Canadians also have never medaled in 12 world championships. Two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash has been Canada's biggest basketball import.

Canada's influence on the sport, however, has begun to grow over the past five years. The Cavaliers selected Thompson with the fourth overall selection in 2011. Bennett, another Toronto native, became the first Canadian picked No. 1 overall when the Cavs selected him in this year's NBA draft. Cory Joseph, also from Toronto, was a member of the San Antonio Spurs' rotation during their march to last season's NBA Finals.

View photos

"Canadian basketball is growing as we speak," Bennett said.

Said Thompson: "It's a blessing and big for all of us in Canada. I feel like I'm the grandfather and [Bennett] is the young pup."

Boston Celtics rookie Kelly Olynyk of Vancouver was arguably the best player at the Las Vegas summer league. Orlando Magic forward Andrew Nicholson, Miami Heat center Joel Anthony and Los Angeles Lakers center Robert Sacre are also from Canada. Wiggins, a Toronto native, this year became the first Canadian to win the Naismith Award given to the top high school basketball player.

"The development of any country is based on the talent playing in that country," Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Canada is bursting with talent right now."

And Wiggins could become a defining player for Canada's national team. He will be a freshman at Kansas next season and is projected to be the top pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Wiggins is the son of former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins, an American, but chose to stick to his mother's Canadian roots and passed on an opportunity to play for Team USA.

"I'd never want to turn my back on my country like that," Wiggins previously told Yahoo! Sports. "That's where I'm from. I have good times here. The program treats me right. USA already has a name for itself as a basketball country. Canada has not really established that yet. I want to be one of the reasons why we establish that."

The development of basketball talent in Canada was helped when the NBA put two franchises – the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies – in the country in 1995. Vince Carter was an NBA dunk champion in 2000 and was one of the NBA's most popular players when he played for the Raptors from 1998-2004.

The success that Nash, now Canada Basketball's general manager, has had in the NBA has also helped grow the sport. And Krzyzewski credits Canada Basketball's decision to hire Jay Triano, a former Raptors coach and USA Basketball assistant, as coach.

"I know a lot of people look up to Steve Nash," Bennett said. "But to be honest, I don't know if there is one single guy that really changed the whole thing.

"As a kid, I used to watch Vince Carter. Vince Carter in Toronto putting down dunks was just crazy. It was something I wanted to do. Every time the Raptors were on I watched and every time he threw down a dunk I would be happy."

Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
Madison Square Garden given 10 years to move
Metta World Peace wants to stop animal abuse
Airman wows with windmill dunk at USA Basketball Showcase
Derrick Rose says he's the best player in the NBA

  • Giants finally release Josh Brown, John Mara cites team's 'misguided' actions

    Brown was left home from the Giants’ game against the Los Angeles Rams in London in Week 7 and was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list by the NFL, granting the team a roster spot to replace him. Giants co-owner John Mara explained (via ESPN) why the team released Brown now and not when the allegations of abuse first surfaced, or after the shocking documents in which Brown admitted he abused his wife were released by the King County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Office.

    Shutdown Corner
  • Is Clinton a true Cubs fan? GOP accuses Hillary of jumping on World Series bandwagon

    Clinton has worn the hats of both the Cubs and Yankees. The 2016 World Series begins Tuesday, and Hillary Clinton will rooting for the Chicago Cubs to break the Curse of the Billy Goat and end its 108-year title drought. On Saturday, Nick Merrill, Clinton’s traveling secretary, posted a photo of the former secretary aboard her campaign plane as she watched the Cubs clinch their World Series berth on a staffer’s smartphone.

    Yahoo News
  • NASCAR America: Brian Scott pleased with second-place finish at Talladega

    Richard Petty Motorsports announced it has partnered with the American Red Cross as the primary sponsor on the No. 44 of Brian Scott this weekend at Martinsville Speedway in an effort to help Hurricane Matthew relief efforts. Scott’s car will feature text message code fans can use in order to donate to the Red Cross’ efforts to help those impacted by Hurricane Matthew earlier this month. Fans can help people affected by Hurricane Matthew by visiting, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or texting the word MATTHEW to 90999, which will be featured on the No. 44 Ford Fusion this weekend, to make a $10 donation. “With the significance that Hurricane Matthew had on the Carolinas, Virginia and really all of the Southeast coast, we knew it was extremely important to give back to our community in a partnership with the American Red Cross,” Richard Petty said in a press release.

    NASCAR Talk
  • Experienced Cup drivers limited to 17 Xfinity and Truck Series races a year starting in 2017

    Kyle Busch will only be able to make 10 Xfinity Series starts in 2017. A rule limiting Sprint Cup drivers in NASCAR’s No. 2 and No. 3 series is official. NASCAR said Wednesday that Cup drivers with five years full-time experience in the series will be limited to 10 Xfinity races and seven Camping World Truck Series races a season starting in 2017.

    From The Marbles
  • Melvin Gordon on supporting Wisconsin

    The former Wisconsin Badger and current San Diego Chargers running back spoke to Yahoo Sports about his college team.

    Yahoo Sports Videos
  • Tigers not likely to deal Kinsler

    While Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila recently told local reporters he will be looking to cut payroll and shake up his roster before next season, Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech believes the Tigers have no interest in trading 2B Ian Kinsler and RHP Justin Verlander. "We want to get younger," Avila said two weeks ago. "We want to get leaner. We want to run the organization without having to go over our means." Kinsler, 34, who hit .288 with 28 home runs and 83 RBIs this season, will earn just $21 million over the next two years and be eligible for free agency after the 2018 season. Matthew Cerrone | Snapchat | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | About Me The Mets technically need a second baseman.

  • Tim Tebow answered Stephen A. Smith's dumb question with a riveting inspirational speech

    Hate on Tim Tebow all you want, but there’s no denying he’s one of the most motivational guys in sports — period. On Tuesday he appeared with Stephen A. Smith on First Take and dropped the best speech you’ll hear all week. When he was criticized for taking a long shot at making an MLB roster, Tebow dropped the hammer.

    SB Nation
  • Jabrill Peppers makes inroads, but Lamar Jackson still Bovada’s overwhelming Heisman favorite

    Most observers have already handed the 2016 Heisman Trophy to Lamar Jackson, but there are still a couple of players who could make the race at least mildly interesting. The Louisville quarterback is, once again,‘s overwhelming favorite to win this year’s Heisman, coming in at 1/3 (bet three dollars to win one). Those are slightly shorter odds than the 1/2 Jackson was getting a week ago. Tied at 15/2 are Michigan’s jack-of-all-trades Jabrill Peppers and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. Peppers was at 33/1 just three weeks ago, while Watson, the preseason wagering favorite, will have a high-profile matchup with Florida State in which to bolster his Heisman pedigree and chip into Jackson’s

    NBC Sports: CollegeFootballTalk
  • Jonathan Bernier exits Ducks game at Sharks with upper-body injury

    Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonathan Bernier exited his team’s Tuesday game against the San Jose Sharks with an upper body injury. It’s unclear when exactly Bernier was hurt. It was just the second game for Bernier with his new team this season.

    Puck Daddy
  • It looks like Brock Osweiler made a mistake leaving the Broncos this offseason

    Brock Osweiler talked on Monday night about how much he loved the Denver Broncos, and it felt sincere. The Denver fans don’t love him anymore, not after he left them as a free agent for a big payday with the Houston Texans. “They meant a lot to me,” Osweiler said.

    Shutdown Corner
  • Why the Cubs benched their $184M outfielder for World Series Game 1

    When the Chicago Cubs announced their lineup for Game 1 of the World Series, one big, expensive name was missing: Jason Heyward, the outfielder whom they signed to a $184 million, eight-year contract this past offseason. Instead, Joe Maddon put journeyman Chris Coghlan in right field. Two things: Yes, Maddon calls Jason Heyward “Jeyward” and Maddon said things could easily be different in Game 2, which makes sense considering how much he tinkers with the Cubs’ lineup.

    Big League Stew
  • Rory McIlroy: No-cut rule helped Tiger Woods win so many WGCs

    At the pinnacle of his career, Tiger Woods dominated the World Golf Championships, winning an incredible 18 of them from 1999-2013. No other player is even remotely close to that tally, with Dustin Johnson and Geoff Ogilvy a distant T-2 with three each. Rory McIlroy, who has two WGCs to his name, said Wednesday ahead of this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions that Woods was a beneficiary of the no-cut nature of the tournaments.

    Devil Ball Golf
  • Report: Jose Mourinho willing to let Wayne Rooney leave

    Wayne Rooney‘s future at Manchester United seems increasingly uncertain. A report in the Sun newspaper states that United’s captain and talisman, 31, has been told by manager Jose Mourinho that he can leave if it’s regular game time he wants. Rooney hasn’t started any of United’s last four Premier League games and was left out of their squad for the 4-0 thumping at Chelsea last weekend with a small injury. Per the report, Mourinho has spoken to Rooney’s advisers and has told them he can not guarantee the England national team captain a starting role. There’s no doubting Rooney’s huge impact at United over the past 12 years since he arrived at Old Trafford. He’s won five Premier League titles,

  • Olympic boxing gold medalist Claressa Shields turning pro

    Claressa Shields celebrates after winning her second Olympic gold medal. There will be no third gold medal for Claressa Shields. The only American to win a boxing gold medal since Andre Ward in 2004 is turning professional and will make her pro debut on Nov. 19 in Las Vegas on the undercard of the Ward-Sergey Kovalev pay-per-view show.

    Yahoo Sports
  • Frederik Andersen's early-season woes continue in 7-3 loss to Tampa

    Frederik Andersen #31 of the Toronto Maple Leafs checks the clock during the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Air Canada Centre on October 25, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Frederik Andersen’s struggles with the Toronto Maple leafs worsened in the team’s 7-3 Tuesday loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Andersen stopped just 17 of 24 Lightning shots goal to drop his save percentage to .851 on the season and boost his goal-against average to 4.29.

    Puck Daddy
  • Welcome to the Tim Tebow baseball and PR Experience

    In the last seven days, I've talked to a handful of Mets insiders, none of whom believe Tim Tebow will be with the team next spring in Port St. Lucie. I've heard several different reasons behind their thinking. But, in the end, everyone agreed that -- if he's still with the organization -- he's more likely to show up in St. Lucie when minor-league camp starts, as opposed to when big leaguers arrive in February. This is good news ... if you ask me. It's nothing against Tebow, who has every right to pursue a career in baseball. It's just, the Mets have real goals, and real business at hand, as they try to right their ship and get back to the World Series. I expect Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah

  • Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly disappointed in AD's vote of confidence

    Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday he was disappointed that athletic director Jack Swarbrick had to give him a vote of confidence last Friday. Notre Dame started the season ranked in the top 10, but are now 2-5 coming off a bye week and the groans about the coaching situation have been persistent. “Brian will lead this team out of the tunnel opening day next year,” Swarbrick said.

    Dr. Saturday
  • Bruins' David Backes to miss at least 2 games after elbow surgery

    The injuries affecting the Boston Bruins isn’t only limited to their crease. Aside from being without their top two goaltenders they were also missing Frank Vatrano, Kevan Miller and David Backes. Backes is the newest member of the Bruins’ injured list and his situation was clarified a bit by the team on Wednesday morning.

    Puck Daddy
  • Greg Cosell's Week 7 Review: The Colts' adjustments, and Andrew Luck's execution

    The Indianapolis Colts had some offensive obstacles to overcome last week. The Colts had to rethink their personnel groupings because receivers Phillip Dorsett and Donte Moncrief were out. The Colts still had quarterback Andrew Luck, and he was excellent.

    Shutdown Corner
  • Video: World Series Expected to Be Most Expensive to Attend

    And the series is shaping up to be the most expensive to attend in the history of Major League Baseball Cleveland. Hasn't been a series in nineteen years and a ticket there tonight starts at more than 700 dollar. It's actually surprising that it's that love let's not that bad. But the cubs haven't been invited to the dance in 71 years so understandably prices for game three in Chicago start at. 19100. Dollars all of and average about four times as much as ones in Cleveland and those prices are likely to rise even more. Before Friday's first game in Chicago and not even counting how much they have to spend and how much it invested in getting back and forth to the game which is going to be its

    ABC News
  • LeBron, Cavs receive rings, raise Cleveland's 1st banner in 52 years

    The city of Cleveland waited 52 years to win a major sports championship before the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors last June. Tuesday’s ring ceremony at Quicken Loans Arena brought that opportunity for yet another celebration of a classic victory. NBA Finals MVP LeBron James and teammates finally received their championship rings in a ceremony before Tuesday’s season opener against the visiting New York Knicks.

    Ball Don't Lie
  • Barcelona without Mathieu for three weeks

    Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu faces a three-week spell on the sidelines after suffering a calf injury in their 1-0 Supercopa de Catalunya defeat at the hands of Espanyol. The Frenchman underwent a series of tests on Wednesday and Barcelona have now announced he will be unavailable for an estimated three weeks. "Test conducted by the medical services on Wednesday morning have revealed that Jeremy Mathieu has injured the soleus in his right leg, which means he is going to be sidelined for an estimated three weeks," a statement on the Catalans' official website reads.

  • Crosby returns, and so does Penguins’ balanced attack in win

    With Sidney Crosby back in the lineup for the first time this season on Tuesday night the Pittsburgh Penguins roster is starting to resemble the one that lifted the Stanley Cup four months ago. About half way through their 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers, they finally started to look like that team on the ice, too. The Panthers were completely shutting the game down and had just put on a penalty killing clinic where they played a 40-second game of keep-away, sparking a chorus of boos from the home crowd. It was at that point that Crosby found himself wide open in the middle of the ice to accept a pass from Evgeni Malkin and rip it past Panthers goalie Jamies Reimer for his first goal of the year.

  • Golf's Superheroes launch WGC Shanghai event

    Some of the stars of golf were turned into superheroes to promote the launch of the WGC HSBC Champions event in Shanghai.

    Omnisport Video
  • Why Ty Montgomery isn’t RB eligible on Yahoo (for now)

    Green Bay Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery pushes Chicago Bears free safety Adrian Amos away as he carries the ball. There have been numerous tweets and questions about whether Ty Montgomery would become eligible at running back in Yahoo Fantasy after getting a chance to line up in the backfield after a rash of injuries for the Green Bay Packers. After much consideration, Yahoo Fantasy Sports has decided to leave Montgomery as receiver only at this time.

    Roto Arcade