The Canadian National Team preparing for this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo could have a decidedly Big 12 flavor as training camp is set for June 16-24.
Former Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins, former Texas forward Tristan Thompson and former Iowa State guard Melvin Ejim are all part of the 21-player training camp, which will be held in Tampa, Florida, due to COVID-19 protocols. From this pool of players, Canada will choose its roster for the Olympics.
Thompson is still part of the NBA Playoffs, as his Boston Celtics are in a series with the Brooklyn Nets. Thompson has had a solid season for Boston, averaging 7.6 points and 8.1 rebounds this season. The former Longhorn was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2011. He is a native of Brampton, Ontario. He won an NBA championship with Cleveland in 2016 but he’s never competed in the Olympics.
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Wiggins, a former No. 1 overall pick, played with the Golden State Warriors this season. He averaged 18.9 points per game, good for No. 39 in the NBA. He also averaged 4.9 rebounds per game. Wiggins played one season at Kansas, winning Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors for the 2013-14 season. The native of Toronto, Ontario, represented Canada in the 2015 AmeriCup, but has never competed in the Olympics.
Ejim was born in Toronto, Ontario, and played for Iowa State from 2010-14, averaging at least 10 points in three of his four seasons. The NBA did not draft him, but Ejim has carved out a successful career overseas, earning an Italian League championship in 2017, as he was also named the Italian League Finals MVP. He was the Big 12 Player of the Year in 2014. He has represented Canada in the FIBA AmeriCup in 2015 and in the 2015 Pan American Games.
Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse will coach the team, and Canada will host a FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in Victoria, British Columbia, from June 29-July 4. Canada is in Group A and will face Greece and China in the Group Phase, while Uruguay, the Czech Republic and Turkey are in Group B. The winner of the tournament advances to the Olympics.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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