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

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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.

Team USA Gets Easy World Cup Draw; Canada, Wiggins Shunned

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The four six-team group draws for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain were announced Monday, with the Andrew Wigginsdefending champion United States going into a group with 2010 silver medalist Turkey.

Over the weekend, FIBA announced its four wild cards for the 24-team draw. They are Turkey, Greece, Brazil and Finland, leaving Canada and its young but tantalizing roster on the outside looking in.

Canada finished sixth in the FIBA Americas Tourney over the summer, failing to secure one of the automatic berths into the World Cup.

Sheridan: Who Will Play for Team USA in Spain?

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Kevin_Durant_gold_medal_2010Of the pool of 28 Team USA players announced earlier today, three have made verbal commitments to play this summer at the World Cup (formerly called the World Championship) in Spain. They are Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Additionally, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul will definitely NOT play in Spain … although all three should be considered locks to play at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (James and Anthony will become the first American players to appear in four Olympics).

So let’s take a look at the pool of players and try to figure out who will be going to Espana.

Hubbard: Colangelo and Popovich Need to Make It Work

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If you wanted to compare the possibilities of who might be the next U.S. Olympic basketball coach to the weather, the following would make perfect sense:

A heat wave will soon hit Antarctica, a driving rainstorm will be pelting the Sahara and Jerry Colangelo will no doubt hire Gregg Popovich.

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Who has been the MVP for Team USA?

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This post went up about an hour before tipoff of the gold medal game, and the entire world was already certain that the United States would defeat Spain for the gold medal in London.

In the fourth quarter, that didn’t look like such a sure thing, but all that mattered at the end was USA 107; Spain 100.

The betting line on the game went from 19 1/2 to 21 1/2, and Spain went from a 20-1 underdog to 25-1. Those were some loooong odds for a team with a clearly superior size advantage, but Marc Gasol’s foul trouble throughout and coach Serge Scariolo’s refusal to play Serge Ibaka in the fourth quarter took that advantage away.

My pre-game pick was USA 104, Spain 94, with Kevin Love (who finished with 9 points and 9 rebounds) playing a big role.

I’ll voted LeBron James for team MVP afterward.

You agree? Vote below.