Canada Sr. Men’s Update: Injuries, other take their toll

There is a saying in the stock market that basically says a good time to buy securities is when “all the bad news is in”.  For Coach Jay Triano and staff, we are all hoping that this phrase accurately describes the current situation for our Senior men’s team given the recent raft of injuries and other situations – over and above the acceptance of not having the majority of last year’s roster in camp.  Most are now aware that only 4 players will return from last season’s team however of the twenty players invited to the training camp, already there has been significant churn.  To wit, 6’7″ Dillon Brooks, who was impressive last summer coming off the bench during the Pan-Am games, and on paper set to be one of Canada’s rotation guys on this roster, is currently saddled with leg/foot injury and is in a cast.  Brooks recently withdrew his name from the N.B.A. draft and will return to Eugene for his junior season.  Dillon’s teammate at Oregon, the freakishly athletic 6’11” Chris Boucher, who led the entire Pac-12 in blocked shots, made a strong early impression in camp, being active and protecting the rim – some viewed him as a shoe-in for a roster spot – however Boucher had to return to Oregon to complete summer courses.   Veteran 6’9″ center Joel Anthony, who over the past 15 years has continually answered the bell for Canada – through good times and other – and deserves the utmost respect and honor for his ongoing loyalty to the program and his country, is in the midst of welcoming a newborn to his family, justifiably casting doubt as to whether he will be available.  Unfortunately for Canada, these issues cast further doubt on the roster and make things even more challenging for Triano and the rest of the brain trust.  On the positive side, what remains is a reasonably strong back court with 6’2″ Cory Joseph (Joseph will be given well-deserved time off for rest and is not expected to travel to Italy when the team leaves for a series of exhibitions this coming Thursday but is in for Manila), 6’1″ Tyler Ennis who has been solid and by all accounts a loyal program guy, 6’3″ Brady Heslip – some expect Turkey to play a lot of zone and Brady continues to show the shooting range that we all have come to know and respect over the past two summers and 6’3″ Phil Scrubb who has been battling injury also.  Depth at the 3 spot is a concern as 6’7″ Thomas Scrubb at this point in time is the probable starter, having matured physically and grown his game after a championship season in Finland.  6’7″ Melvin Ejim, who provided so much energy off the bench for Canada last season, taking charges, keeping balls alive on the glass and finishing inside and out, is slotted as the starting four man.  6’6″ Dyshawn Pierre, who just finished his senior year at Dayton, is in camp but missed time due to working out for some pro teams.  The staff appears to be trying Pierre at both the 3 and 4 spots.  6’4″ Naz Long, just granted another season of eligibility at Iowa State on compassionate injury-based grounds, is in camp and brings a reputation as a long-range shooter.  Veteran Levon Kendall and 7’5″ Sim Bhullar are available at the 5 spot.  There has been talk that 6’7″ Anthony Bennett, presently an unrestricted N.B.A. free agent and/or 6’9″ Khem Birch, a Montreal native who plays for Uşak Sportif of the Turkish Basketball Super League, will be in camp – neither was on the original invite list however neither have as yet shown up to camp.  CIS fans will be pleased to hear that by all accounts 6’10” Owen Klassen (Acadia/German pro league) has had a solid camp and remains a candidate to at least make the trip to Italy.  Highly-touted 6’5″ wing R.J. Barrett has been steady at the 3 spot and 6’4″ Shai Alexander, originally from Hamilton who will suit up for the Florida Gators as a freshman this coming season, probably is a bit away but numerous observers marvel at Alexander’s skill set and, as importantly, how well he soaks up instruction and his very positive attitude – expect Alexander to have some future with the program going forward if his progress continues.  We are about 48 hours away from the team breaking camp in Toronto to travel to Italy with their first game against Croatia next week.  Many are anxious to discover which group of 12 will make the journey to Europe – we expect and hope that post-Europe, more players – hopefully Tristan Thompson – will also join in time for 5th July game vs. Turkey.  Stay tuned.



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