Canada Expects Wiggins, Ennis, Bennett in 2015 Olympic Qualifying, Targeting Gold in 2020

NEW YORK -- Canadian men’s national team coach Jay Triano expects Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Ennis, Anthony Bennett and the country’s talented young core of basketball players to compete in Olympic qualifying in 2015.

But he says the big payoff with this group might not come until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“The future’s going to be great,” Triano, an assistant with the Portland Trail Blazers, told SheridanHoops.com on Wednesday following a 94-90 win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. “But it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen at the next Olympics, it might be the following Olympics.”

In the immediate future, Triano expects Wiggins, the likely No. 1 or 2 pick in June’s draft; Ennis, projected as a top-10 pick in 2014; and Bennett, the No. 1 pick in 2013, to help anchor the team during Olympic qualifying in 2015.

Jay_Triano“Yeah, they played in our junior program in the past and they’re in the pipeline to become national team members and seem very keen and interested in it,” he said.

When the four wild cards for this summer’s FIBA World Cup (formerly FIBA World Championships) in Spain were announced Saturday, Canada was left out, meaning it will have to qualify in the summer of 2015 for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

By that point, Wiggins (Kansas), Ennis (Syracuse) and fellow Canadian Nik Stauskas (Michigan) all will likely be in the NBA. All three are projected in the top 20 picks of this year’s draft by DraftExpress.com.

“I just think the young kids that are in college right now, we’re seeing a lot of progress in how they can play,” Triano said. “We got a guy at Michigan, Syracuse, and Andrew obviously. But those are guys who have been a part of our national team program and  and they will be a part of the program as we continue.”

Together with current NBA players Bennett, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk, Tristan Boston CelticsThompson and Cory Joseph,, Canada should have a strong core going forward toward 2020 in Tokyo.

Last summer, Wiggins, Ennis, Bennett and Olynyk did not participate at the FIBA Americas Tournament in Venezuela, where Canada failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Spain.

Wiggins opted to get acclimated at Kansas prior to his freshman year. Ennis, Wiggins’ longtime running buddy with the CIA Bounce AAU team, played with the Canadian U-19s in Prague. Bennett was dealing with a shoulder injury. And Olynyk opted out.

Without them, Nicholson, Thompson, Joseph and Baylor guard Brady Heslip led the way.

“Last year we had some bigs,” Triano said. “We had Tristan Thompson and Andrew Nicholson and Joel Anthony. We were fine up front, we needed a little help in the backourt and we’re gonna get that now.”

Triano pointed to the likely additions of Ennis – who has guided Syracuse to a 22-0 record and the No. 1 ranking – and Stauskas.

“It would’ve been nice to have Olynyk, especially because he’s a guy that played in the international game more than most of these guys,” Triano added. “He’s been on the national team for years. So that would’ve helped us.”

Bennett, meantime, has struggled mightily since being chosen first overall by the Cavaliers last June. He missed the FIBA Americas Tournament and NBA summer league because of shoulder surgery and has endured a brutal rookie year.

230px-Anthony_Bennett_by_Jeremy_Rincon“He was with us last summer,” Triano said. “He obviously couldn’t play because of his shoulder and he didn’t travel but he was with us in training camp.

“He’s a young kid. I think he got behind in the NBA because he didn’t play in the summer league and it’s tough to get any confidence and get practice reps. But he’s going to be a part of our program in the future as well.”

And Triano believes that future can be extremely bright.

“If they play and play together, I think the potential for our country to do really well is really high,” he said.

RELATED: WHY THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS WILL END UP WITH ANDREW WIGGINS

Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog covers the future stars of the NBA for SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear Saturdays. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamZagoria.

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  1. […] Adam Zagoria of Sheridan Hoops looks toward the 2020 Summer Olympics and sees Canada’s potential team as a formidable force. Zagoria hears that college studs Andrew Wiggins and Tyler Ennis are expected to join forces with current NBA players Anthony Bennett, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk, Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph. It’s possible a similar team could assemble for the 2015 Olympic games, but Zagoria thinks 2020 is when the expected Canadian roster will be able to reach its full potential. […]

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