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U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview

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U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#1 » by Hair Canada » Fri May 31, 2019 1:19 pm

While the Raptors are making history in the NBA finals, a much younger Canadian team will be playing for gold starting Monday in the FIBA Americas U16 championship. First chance to see these young talents playing some of the best talent in the world.

I have quite a bit to say, so this is going to be a long read. It’s written for those who are really interested in players from these young ages and the potential of players in this age group.


CHAMPIONSHIP LOCATION, DRAWS, AND SCHEDULE

The championship will take place in Belem, Brazil (June 3-9) and the four top teams will qualify for the FIBA U17 World Cup next summer.

Canada is in Group B, together with hosts Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay. We will play three games in the preliminary group stage: Uruguay (June 3), Brazil (June 4), and Puerto Rico (June 5). Then there’s a one-day break before the quarterfinals (#1 against #4 from the other group; #2 against #3), the semis, and the final on the 7th, 8th and 9th. Altogether, 6 games in 7 days. All games are streamed on the championship website:

http://www.fiba.basketball/u16americas/2019/news/canada-select-12-player-roster-for-u16-americas-championship


A BIT OF HISTORY

Canada has never won the U16 American championships. But in the last two championships it has taken over from Argentina as the second-best team in the Americas and tournament finalist. Still, this does not mean that our talent level is always the same.

The 2015 cadet team for the FIBA Americas championship was one of the most talented youth teams in Canadian history. More talented than the team that won the U19 world championship in 2017. Maybe on par with the 2009 U19 team (CoJo, TT, and Olynyk), the 2010 U17 team (Wiggins, Bennet, Pangos, Pierre, and Notice), and the 2016 U18 one (SGA, NAW, Wigginton, and Brissett).

That 2015 cadet team included RJ Barret, Simi Shittu, Iggy Brazdeikis, and Andrew Nembhard, as well as the likes of Danilo Djuricic, Noah Kirkwood, Jaelin Llewellyn, and Marcus Carr. It easily won its four first games by an average margin of about 40 points. Then it stunned the US team (Wendell Carter Jr., Kevin Knox, Tre Jones, Gary Trent, Markus Howard) with an early 19:3 lead at the end of the first quarter and continued to lead through the end of the third quarter. But eventually, the US size and mainly its depth were too much in the fourth and the Americans finished with the gold.

How about the Canadian team for the 2017 U16 FIBA Americas? Well, despite a similar final standing, that was one of the weakest teams I can remember, due to a mix of less-talented classes (2020 and 2021 are not our best) and some significant no-shows (Patterson, Alexander-Moncrieff, Hemmings). That team seriously lacked size, athleticism, outside shooting, and perhaps most of all shot-creators. What we had was still enough to reach the gold medal game, but some of the games were uncomfortably close. And then, in the gold medal game, Canada was destroyed by a much bigger, much more athletic, and MUCH more talented US team. The game ended with a margin of 50, but it was an unpleasant experience and felt like the Americans could have made it +80 if they really needed to. The US team featured 12 players with NBA potential. Team Canada? In all honesty, I would be surprised if any of the players on that team will eventually make it to the league.


SO WHAT ARE WE GETTING IN 2019?

Always hard to say at such an early stage, as players are so young and haven’t been tested. but I would wager that the young Canadian team for this tournament is going to look more like the 2015 team than to the 2017 one.

In my (admittedly very early) estimate, the 2022-2023 classes have 5-6 guys with NBA potential, which is more or less on par with that 2015 team. But not all of them will play at this coming U16 championship. That includes the most well-known prospect of this age group, Elijah Fisher. I’ll write more about some of these prospects in a bit.

The full roster from Basketball Canada (I do think some of the heights are a bit off):

Enoch Boakye 6’9" Brampton, ON Brampton Centennial S.S.
Jaden Clayton 5’11" Whitby, ON Andrews Osbourne Academy
Josiah Davis 6’1" Kitchener, ON Huron Heights S.S.
Caleb Houstan 6’9" Mississauga, ON Montverde Academy
Luke Hunger 6’8" Montreal, QC Ashbury College
Dorile (DJ) Jackson 6’3" Mississauga, ON St. Martin S.S
Dylan Kalambay 6’7" Brampton, ON St. Edmund Campion C.S.S
Leonard Miller 6’5" Scarborough, ON Thornlea S.S
Ryan Nembhard 5’11" Aurora, ON Montverde Academy
Shaedon Sharpe 6’3" London, ON H.B. Beal S.S
Caelum Swanton-Rodger 6’9" Calgary, AB Sir Winston Churchill S.S
Jayden Webley 6’9" Calgary, AB Montverde Academy
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#2 » by mojo13 » Fri May 31, 2019 2:06 pm

Good stuff. Looking forward to the player overviews.

The u16s is tougher one to follow for me as I know nothing about these guys. Your insight is extremely helpful and pretty much my knowledge base going forward.
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#3 » by Hair Canada » Fri May 31, 2019 3:22 pm

NOTABLE FUTURE PROSPECTS (possible starting five)

A comparison to that 2015 U16 team might be a useful way to assess the strength of the current roster. So let’s look at the most talented players on this 2019 team (and, possibly, the starting five), noting some similarities to that 2015 team, whose starting 5 were Nembhard, Barrett, Kirkwood, Djuricic, and Shittu (Brazdeikis, Llewellyn, and Carr were the main contributors from the bench). Naturally, there’s a danger of oversimplifying when making such comparisons, especially this early on, when players haven’t even reached physical maturity. But I do see at least some similarities.

PG: Ryan Nembhard (Andrew Nembhard in 2015). Age: 16; Height: 6’0. Ryan will be a year older than what Andrew was when he played for that 2015 U16 team. But otherwise, he’ll step right into his big brother’s shoes as the PG who runs the show. And he’ll bring very similar qualities to the table. On the plus side, there’s the excellent composure and pace (nice change of speed), a very mature game, high basketball IQ, great vision, good defense (with a nose for steals), and leadership skills. On the minus side, he has average (at best) size, length and strength, a somewhat shaky jump shot, and a bit of a reluctance to attack the basket and look for his own points (though I think he’s more assertive than Andrew was at his age).

Regardless of these shortcomings, coaches love this kind of player at the PG, especially at this age, when this kind of maturity and pace are rare. So I expect Ryan to get extended minutes. He’s also much more experienced than just about any player on this team (maybe except Houstan), having played against much older competition for the last 3 years, including with U17 Ontario team last year and getting minutes with one of the best schools in American, Montverde Academy this year.

Looking beyond just this championship, Ryan, who already turned 16 a couple of months ago, is still significantly shorter than his brother Andrew. So if he doesn’t have a few more inches left in him, it’s hard to see him as an NBA prospect even with all his positive traits, especially given his limited physique, length, and athleticism.

SG: Shaedon Sharpe (Noah Kirkwood in 2015). Age: 16; height: 6’4/6’5. SG from London, ON. While Sharpe and Kirkwood are in similar positions and might even end up with similar stats (Kirkwood finished with an average double figures in 2015), I think the advantage as a prospect is clearly with Sharpe. I’ve really been impressed with what I’ve seen from him. Perhaps the most promising Canadian in the 2022 class (maybe together with Houstan), with clear-cut NBA potential. NPH still haven’t caught up with him (don’t have him in their top-5 for the class), but I think they will soon, maybe after this championship. Shaedon is a very good athlete with nice hanging time, probably the best leaper in this class. He finished above the rim with ease, including ally-hoops, dunks in traffic, and, most impressively, completing put-back dunks. He also has a pretty good handle, although it stands to be further improved as he’s a bit careless with the ball sometimes. He is right handed, but finishes nicely with both hands around the rim and can certainly go to his left and finish quite well. His body is still a bit on the skinny side (not surprising for a 16yo), but looks like he has a developable frame.

I also really like his potential as a shooter. He has the best shooting mechanics I’ve seen in this class (among the more promising prospects at least). He has a smooth and elegant shooting stroke and he shoots an easy ball, with an effortless high release and very nice form and fluidity, including from NBA ranges. Can also stop and pop. Another nice thing is that he’s not just a scorer. In the games I’ve seen, he contributed in other categories as well – good rebounding, blocks shots, and perhaps most importantly, a handful of assists. He mostly doesn’t force shots even when he’s in rhythm. Plays an unselfish game and looks to share the ball with teammates (sometimes to a fault), even when he’s clearly much more gifted.

My only real knock on him right now is that he still doesn’t seem to play with a sense of urgency and he lacks a killer instinct (something that Fisher for example already has). That, coupled with an occasional loose handle, leads to too many turnovers, but also to not demanding the ball on offense even when he’s the best player on his team. In that, he reminds me a bit of Cassius McNealy at this age, both in terms of his tools—a smooth athlete with an excellent shooting stroke—and in terms of his somewhat laissez-faire approach to the game—not demanding the ball and sometimes settling on outside shots instead of relentlessly attacking the rim. But Shaedon is already taller and he’s a better, more complete player than Cassius was at his age. And Cassius also stopped developing and progressing (body and game) at a fairly young age, so hopefully that’s not the case here.

All in all, I think a very promising potential. Not sure how dominant he’ll be in this championships (not even sure he’ll start). But looking a few years ahead, I think he might be our most promising player from this generation, on par with Fisher and Caleb Houstan. Here’s a sample of what Shaedon can do, in a game from the NJC league (playing against kids his age), where he scored 59 points, including a couple of NBA-distance threes. Not the strongest competition, but the potential is clear:



The youngster on the wing: Leonard Miller (RJ Barrett in 2015). Age: 15.5; height: 6’6. The natural candidate for this spot should have been Elijah Fisher, who actually have quite a few similarities to Barrett beyond just being a year younger (see below in my notes below on notable omitted players). But, alas, Fisher is a no-show for this competition, so I’ll go with another relatively younger player here – Leonard Miller. Leonard is the younger brother of Emanuel, who’ll hopefully play with the U19 team later this summer. To be clear, in terms of both talent and game maturity, Miller is not even close to Barrett (or Fisher) and reminds me much more of his own brother. He’s a good and long athlete with a decent handle. He can also shoot a little (though his release is very low and he shoots it flat-footed), but takes too many three-pointers for how accurate he is right now and tends to settle for the 3 instead of attacking the basket. He actually has decent penetration moves, but often doesn’t know how to finish and can jack up wild shots in traffic (again very reminiscent of his brother when he was in that age). Leonard is still figuring out his body, strengths, and offensive game. But his main contribution to this team should be on the defensive end – he’s a good defender, with length, agility, and good motor.

I do think that Miller is one of the better talents in the 2022 class. Not sure he’s an NBA prospect (too soon to tell). But he should follow in the footsteps of his brother and be a contributing junior team-Canada player and maybe also a good college and pro player eventually. For now, I’m not at all sure about his role in the rotation. Seems likely that he actually doesn’t start and comes off the bench behind more developed players with better offense like DJ Jackson or Josiah Davis.

PF: Caleb Houstan (Danilo Djuricic in 2015). Age: 16.5. Height: 6’8/6’9. Okay, the Djuricic comparison is far from perfect, mainly because Houstan is clearly a better talent and future prospect than Djuricic ever was. But they do share a few similarities. Both are not elite explosive athletes. They also do not possess great height or unique length for the PF position. But both have very good basketball IQ, they understand the game, and both can play the stretch-4, with good outside shooting. The main difference is that Houstan can actually play the SF position quite comfortably (though I suspect in this tournament he’ll mainly play the 4) and this should be his future position, as he’s not likely to ever be strong or athletic enough to bang heads in the paint at the next level. He is more mobile than Djuricic, with quicker feet, has a better handle, and he’s also a better all-around scorer, with more tools and the ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket. He’s still quite thin and not as strong as Djuricic was at that age. But he’s already a more fluid athlete, and as I said, simply more talented.

Houstan also already has some important high-level and international experience, having played with the U17 team in last year’s WC and then with the Montverde academy varsity team this year (including some nice minutes in the Geico Nationals). I really liked what he showed on both ends of the floor in the games I’ve seen him. Plays smart basketball, makes good reads, and has good pace and both defensive and offensive abilities. I expect him to be one of our leading scorers and one of the most important players on this team. Looking further ahead, he seems like one of the better prospects on this team. Once his body matures and he gets stronger, I see clear NBA talent here.

C: Enoch Boakye (Simi Shittu in 2015). Age: 16; height: 6’9. Boakye is probably the closest thing on this team to what Simi gave us in 2015 and they also have a similar physical build. I’m guessing he might also start at the center position for this 2019 team. Granted, he doesn’t seem to be as talented as Simi. He’s less athletic and fluid than Simi and I’m not sure he has Simi’s vision. But, like Simi, Boakye has an excellent physical profile – he’s strong, with long arms – and he plays with a lot of energy and enthusiasm on both ends (at least that’s what Simi used to do in his high school days). He also has a very good motor around the rim – goes after balls on both ends of the floor, picks up offensive rebounds, and blocks shots. Contests everything around him, usually without fouling. Can also lead the ball a bit in the open floor and shift directions and runs the floor well. Also saw a bit of a mid-range jumper, but not sure how consistent he is from the mid-range. Athleticism might be the main issue. His lateral movement on defense is just okay (a bit on the slower side, though he’s determined and makes a good effort). Also haven’t seen any signs of outside shooting and he doesn’t seem that accurate from the line.
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#4 » by TrueNorth31 » Fri May 31, 2019 6:16 pm

Love this stuff - keep it coming. I hope to see your thoughts on the rest of the roster.

What's the deal with Fisher ?

I hope they stream the games.
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#5 » by TrueNorth31 » Fri May 31, 2019 6:27 pm

Games will be on FIBA Youtube channel.

http://www.fiba.basketball/u16americas/2019/games#
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#6 » by Hair Canada » Fri May 31, 2019 9:36 pm

THE REST OF THE ROSTER

I don’t see another Barzdeikis on this team, though it should be noted that the version of Iggy that played on that 2015 U16 team was a much less polished and mature player with a limited handle, somewhat selfish, and trigger happy. Still, there are a couple of players here who are likely going to be good contributors.

Jayden Webley (6’9; 260lb C; age: 15.5). One of the players on this team that I’ve had the least amount of chances to see, so in many ways, he’s somewhat of a mystery to me and I’m quite intrigued to watch more of him. The physical profile is certainly impressive and suggests that he might be one of the most promising prospects on this team -- big, long, and powerful. But he seemed like an even more promising prospect a year and a half ago, as he was at about the same height and weight as he is now before he turned 14. Seems like a player who has maxed out quite early physically. Like Nembhard and Houstan, Webley also spent the last year at the “Canadian” powerhouse of Montverde, FL. Unlike them though, he seems to be at an earlier stage of his development as a player (he’s also almost a year younger than them) and didn’t play with the big boys, but rather with the younger Montverde team. From the little I’ve seen of him, it’s clear that he’s really big and strong. But he didn’t seem to be particularly athletic or quick, perhaps because he was a bit overweight. Also didn’t have much of an offensive repertoire, but hopefully a year at Montverde has helped with that. Seems to have a pretty good motor around the basket and a nose for blocks, but not sure if he can contain guards in the pick and roll, an almost do-or-die in today’s game at the higher levels. Born in London to a family of Jamaican descent before moving to Canada.

Jaden Clayton (6’0 PG). Clayton’s game resembles that of Nembhard in many ways. Both are old-style PGs. Both are very mature and have played against older completion for quite some time. Both do not have a great physical toolkit (size, strength, length and athleticism). And neither of them is a productive scorer. But both have very good ball handling and decision-making skills, as well as good passing, basketball IQ, and pace. Like Ryan, Jaden is a natural PG, good defender, very unselfish, and contributes in various categories beyond scoring. Jaden also has a nice stroke from 3 and already has important experience leading high-school teams. He is the leading PG for Uplay in Nike EYBL this summer (playing two years up) and has 7 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds per game. In the games I saw him there he actually had a hard time against long athletic defenders and turned the ball over quite a bit (4 TOs a game). But playing against his age-group that should be less of an issue (except for a potential game against the US). Between Nembhard and Clayton, we’re really set at the PG position, guaranteed to have a leader and a pacer on the court at all times. Certainly important against a team that applies constant on-ball pressure such as the US. Like Nembhard, Clayton’s long term potential might be limited by his physical tools, but I think in this campaign he’s going to be an important player for the Canadian team.

DJ Jackson (6'3/6’4 SG). Would not surprise me if he ends up as one of our top scorers in this tournament. DJ has a great mid-range pull-up jumper (best on this team) and he’s also a fairly good 3-point shooter. He plays a smooth game with a good handle and has a nose for scoring the ball. Attacks the basket aggressively and is a good rebounder. Can be a bit selfish, but maybe that's what scorers do. The main problem when considering his long-term potential is that he’s not big (around 6’3 or 6’4 with what seems like average build and length) and even more important, he’s just a mediocre athlete who doesn’t play above the rim. So I think there’s a good chance he’ll be one of the leading players on this U16 team, because he has a mature game and an attack mentality. Wouldn’t surprise me if he even gets a spot on the starting 5. But projecting for the long run, he just doesn’t have next-level size or athleticism. And he also doesn’t have any other elite go-to qualities that would compensate for that, such as exceptional outside shooting, a unique handle, or elite passing. So I think at some point others will catch up with the skill and mentality and he’ll have a hard time making an impact at the next level, unless he still has some physical and athletic growth in him.

Josiah Davis (6’3 SG). Another good scorer. Davis is a strong and very crafty guard, who finishes with both hands around the rim, showing good creativity and strength. He’s a good and quick athlete; a nightmare for opponents on the break and in transition. The problem is that his shooting at this point is quite awful, unless he totally revamped it since I last saw him. He shoots a very flat ball without much touch and with a very low percentage from 3 and from the line. It also looks like his body type doesn’t have much more room to grow, but he doesn’t play above the rim right now and hasn't shown much in the way of playmaking, so the long-term potential again seems somewhat limited. I still expect that with his maturity and strong attack mentality he'll get quite a bit of playing time on this team.

Dylan Kalambay (6’8 PF). A good athlete with a fairly strong frame, who can play just a bit of wing but feels more comfortable in the paint. Can contribute on the defensive end but he’s quite raw offensively (doesn’t have a good finishing touch around the basket). Hopefully, he’ll play a limited role, though he might be our best PF bench guy. I see some resemblance to Malachi Ndur from the 2017 U16 team.

Luke Hunger (6’8 PF). The QC representative on this team. Though I must say that for me, he didn’t seem like the most talented QC player of this generation (a bit more on that later on). A combo forward who can (and does) play far from the basket and shoot it from deep (though not at a high percentage in the games I’ve seen him). Nothing special athletically or physically, unless he’s made some transformations over the past year.

Caelum Swanton-Rodger (6’9 C). A big man from Calgary (second in the team, along with Jayden Webley). Must have made quite a jump in his game since the last time I saw him, because I have to say that I was not at all impressed. Didn’t seem like a high-caliber profile, with pedestrian body, size, athleticism, and talent. But the coaching team must have seen at least something about him so we’ll see if gets any meaningful minutes.
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#7 » by mojo13 » Fri May 31, 2019 10:38 pm

Hair - it sounds like you may touch in this later but do you have insight on how they pick a team at this age?
I’m sure allot goes into it but I’m curious if they lean more to individual best players or best team they can put together today or is there a heavy eye on the future? Are they including guys who aren’t near the best players today but have serious long term prospects to get them experience, training and into the system? Are they leaving guys out who are top at their position today but don’t project well? Are they dropping guys who should be on the team to get geographical diversity? Are politics involved among AAU factions like we have heard in the past?
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#8 » by Hair Canada » Sat Jun 1, 2019 4:09 pm

mojo13 wrote:Hair - it sounds like you may touch in this later but do you have insight on how they pick a team at this age?
I’m sure allot goes into it but I’m curious if they lean more to individual best players or best team they can put together today or is there a heavy eye on the future? Are they including guys who aren’t near the best players today but have serious long term prospects to get them experience, training and into the system? Are they leaving guys out who are top at their position today but don’t project well? Are they dropping guys who should be on the team to get geographical diversity? Are politics involved among AAU factions like we have heard in the past?


I think I mentioned before that I'm not in any way related to team Canada (or to any basketball organization for that matter). So I have no inside info at all and all I can do is make some (educated?) guesses about the process and what's going on behind the scenes. Canada Basketball themselves choose to release very little formal information in these scenarios. And perhaps rightfully so; again, I don't know the behind the scenes, so can't tell if the silence here is strategic. But I did hear that they are "leaving the door open" for Fisher (for next year?), as they did with many prospects who chose not to come in previous campaigns, so maybe part of this is not washing the dirty laundry in public.

Anyway, I think I wrote at some point about what happened two years ago with the AAU feud between Uplay and CIA Bounce, which results in many top prospects (all somehow connected to Bounce or their leading figure -- Tony McIntire) not showing up for the U19 WC and the U16 FIBA Americas. I'm not aware of any such feud or bad blood this time, which of course doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

However, I did notice that at least two of the prospects whom I thought should have for sure been on this team (Elijah Fisher and Zaiden Cross) are currently playing for the same AAU team -- Grassroots Elite. And that team also has two other prospects whom I thought are at least worth a look, maybe for training camp. I really can't say with any certainty though that this is the reason they are not on the team. Who knows? (obviously the insiders, but I'm not one of them).
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#9 » by Hair Canada » Sat Jun 1, 2019 9:38 pm

NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS

1. Younger High-major/NBA prospects: For me, 3 of the most promising prospects from the 2022-2023 classes are not on this team (not sure why, though I did suggest a possible reason for two of them above): Zaiden Cross (c/o 2022), Elijah Fisher (c/o 2023), and Jaiden Cole (c/o 2023). I hope they’ll join the team next year in the U17 WC. And I think it’s still worthwhile to say something about them even though they won’t be playing, as this thread is partly designed to assess the future Canadian talent pool.

Elijah Fisher (c/o 2023) is a 6’6 wing with good length. He’s an excellent and explosive athlete with good speed. He’s also very strong (defenders bounce off him) and has great body control. A real freight train in the open court and has a dog mentality, looking to attack the basket and score and cherishing contact. He’s also a good on-ball defender, who can be quite dominant with his athleticism, strength, quick lateral movement and vertical explosiveness. I see here quite a few similarities to RJ Barrett, first with their unwavering attack mode and desire to score and dominate the opponents. While Barrett is very left-hand dominant, Fisher is similarly right-hand dominant and often forces the issue. Like Barrett, Fisher also tends to have tunnel-vision, charge into a wall, and play bully-ball. But when he chooses to look up, he actually has pretty good vision. He can split the defense with one-handed passes, and make nice whole-court passes. Also like Barrett, he lacks some wiggle (mainly finishes straight-line drives with force and will power) and his handle can be shaky. Finally, he also seems to unfortunately share Barrett’s questionable shooting touch. He can shoot the 3 but his percentage from that range tends to be quite low. He also almost never shoots anything from mid-range. No floaters or short-stops either. In sum, while I still think he’s probably the most promising Canadian player from this generation, I might not be as high as some others and I’m not that sure how far he’ll actually get. His physical growth seems to have slowed down considerably, so he’ll need to really improve his skill level and shooting to remain on top of this class.

Zaiden Cross (6’5/6’6 guard; c/o 2022) might also be one of the better long-term talents in his class (only 15.5). He’s shot up in height considerably over the last year (maybe 4-5 inches) and is probably still growing. Reminds me of another late bloomer, AJ Lawson (wiry physique and also some similarities in their game). Cross is a good shooter when his feet are set, but the form on the shot is still inconsistent and the release a bit low. Also has good scoring instincts and can score in multiple ways. A good athlete with good body control. Can contort for finishes and finish with either hand. Decision making is questionable at this point. Lacks a degree of toughness and greater focus and sharpness, which might be why he’s not on this U16 team. Also loses the ball a lot with careless passes, rushes shots, and doesn’t take his time to finish with good form, resulting in bad misses. On defense, he can lock in, but also often loses focus and reaches rather than sit in position and guard. But these mainly seem to me like teething problems, not due to lack of talent or a problematic character. The game still hasn’t slowed down for him, but the potential is certainly there.

Jaiden Cole: The youngest of the bunch (hasn’t turned 15 yet), which might be the reason he wasn’t considered for this U16 team. A 6’4 G/SF with good length and athleticism (easily plays above the rim). Has long strides, a pretty good handle, and very good vision. I like his game. He’s unselfish, dribbles with his head up, and makes good reads. His outside shot is also not bad (made very good progress over the last year), but the release-point is a bit low, which is fairly typical at this age. From what I’ve seen so far, he seems like the second best prospect in the 2023 class behind Fisher. Hopefully, he grows some more and gets a chance next year.

2. Short powerful forwards: Noah Ngamba and Cameron Harris. I thought that at least one of them would at least be invited to the training camp. Both have some similarities to Paris Shand, who was on the U16 team two years ago – short for the PF position (about 6’5), with a stocky frame, limited athleticism, but good strength and scoring abilities. Anyway, both are likely not promising long-term prospects, so I think it was a reasonable decision to bring in players with higher potential.

3. Quebec prospects: Majambu Mbikay and Malik Montero-Francin. If one wanted to diversify a bit more in terms of provinces, both of these seem like they should have been at least considered (the only Quebec guy that made it to the team was Luke Hunger, which to me seemed somewhat less talented). I was especially intrigued by Mbikay, who’s an athletic and energetic PF who could have probably contributed from the bench.

4. Brothers of: Okay, here I’m not really surprised, but it’s still worth mentioning. In addition to Ryan Nembhard, three other brothers of leading players from that 2015 U16 team could have been in consideration here: Nathan Barrett (c/o 2022), Jaden Kirkwood (c/o 2022), and Augustus Brazdeikis (c/o 2023). Kirkwood was actually part of the 18-player training camp for this championship. The young Barrett plays at Montverde Academy and was a member of Team Ontario last summer. But neither he nor the young Brazdeikis has the size or the talent of the older brothers. And it’s not even close.
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#10 » by CAConductor » Sun Jun 2, 2019 12:50 am

Hey Hair is there any update on Jahsemar Olembe? I remember reading about him in your 2023 preview and heard here and there that he was a player with NBA potential.
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#11 » by NotMyKawhi » Sun Jun 2, 2019 1:20 am

Is Elijah Fisher too young
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#12 » by Hair Canada » Sun Jun 2, 2019 10:55 am

CAConductor wrote:Hey Hair is there any update on Jahsemar Olembe? I remember reading about him in your 2023 preview and heard here and there that he was a player with NBA potential.


Olembe is a nice player. built well, with long legs, narrow hips, and wide shoulders. Also has a good skill level and handle. His game is very smooth (his nickname is 'Jazz') and he also shoots an easy ball. But from what I've seen he did not add much height since I wrote about him almost two years ago when he was 13 y/o. And at 6'4 or 6'5 (or even 6'6) he will be small for the SF or PF positions. The thing is that he's a decent athlete, but not explosive. And even more, he's just not quick enough to play the guard position. So I like the skill level for such a young age, but can't really see this being enough at the next level (or at least not for the pros). For now, I'd still put him in the top-5 for the 2023 class, but if he doesn't shoot up in height or really improves athletically, it might not last for long.

Two guys that I'm higher on in the 2023 class (besides Fisher) are Jaden Cole, whom I mentioned above, and Adrian Uchidiuno, a 6'2 guard with an exceptionally long wingspan and very good athleticism. He's not as polished as Olembe, but the physical profile seems more promising and he plays with a high motor and a competitive edge on both ends of the floor. His confidence is also growing and his offensive skill level has been developing nicely (including an improving outside shot). Definitely, one to keep track of.
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#13 » by Hair Canada » Sun Jun 2, 2019 8:48 pm

BOTTOM LINE: CHANCES FOR GOLD

Similar to past championships in recent years, it would be a major upset if we don’t make it to the gold medal game. But once we (hopefully) get there, what would be our chances to win this championship for the first time?

As always, eventually it’s not up to us; it’s up to the US. Seems to me that in recent years, the Americans have been taking these championships more seriously, making every effort to closely select the best young prospects, prepare them well, and come with the will to completely dominate these championships. And this year is not different. Maybe at least some of it has to do with the perceived humiliation in not winning the U19 championship two years ago (the only time they lost a game in a youth competition since 2011).

In addition, in this age group, American players still seem to be very motivated to come and represent their country (naturally, there’s also a lot to earn here in terms of exposure and status) and you don’t see many cases of players refusing to come. Where this happens more is the U19 WC, where the top players might already have been drafted and others are on their way to college and don’t show up.

Indeed, this American team is again very strong. They won’t have Emony Bates, arguably the most talented prospect in all of high school basketball right now, regardless of class (might be the second coming of KD). But they still bring the majority of the most talented kids in the class of 2022. Of those I’ve watched, I was particularly impressed with the youngsters, SG Amari Bailey, SF Chris Livingston and PF Jalen Duren (all quite young at only about 15.5 y/o). But I’m sure there are others who will show their talent and, as always, the athleticism and depth should be spectacular.

Do we still have a chance to take the gold? Who knows. Maybe if the US has a bad game and don’t come fully focused, but it would have to be a major upset. It does seem like we have a much better match-up than two years ago. Boakye and Webley can put a body on the US bigs (who also don’t seem as big and dominant as those from two years ago). Nembhard and Clayton can pace the game and hopefully minimize turnovers and the running and transition game that the Americans love and excel at. And Houstan and Sharpe have the potential to provide enough size, athleticism, talent, and shooting to be able to compete on offense.

Still, considering the difference in depth, honestly, I’d be happy if (1) we get to the gold medal game showing good team play, and (2) the game looks more like the gold medal game four years ago than the one two years ago and we can keep it close and show some competitive spirit. Bottom line, what matters most here is not the final result but rather how our young players look like and whether at least some of them show potential to become future leaguers and SNT players.
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#14 » by Hair Canada » Mon Jun 3, 2019 2:08 pm

Game day. First game today at 12:30PM ET against Uruguay. Don't know much about them, but they're not a traditional powerhouse and also don't have great size.
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#15 » by mojo13 » Mon Jun 3, 2019 4:54 pm

You called 4 for 5 on the starting line-up which is pretty impressive.

Ryan Nembhard
Shaedon Sharpe
Caleb Houstan
Dylan Kalambay
Enoch Boakye


Pretty rough start to the game - no one can hit a shot. The offensive rebounding though is on another level.
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#16 » by TrueNorth31 » Mon Jun 3, 2019 7:13 pm

Nice win for the lads. Started slow - looked like a team that's practiced less than a week together.

We had a lot of success with our zone, conversely though we struggled a bit when Uruguay played zone on us. This team is certainly a work in progress.

Thanks for the preview Hair - it was superb. Really spot on analysis. I'll watch more before I give my opinion on certain players.
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#17 » by Hair Canada » Mon Jun 3, 2019 8:36 pm

So it ended up as expected, around 40 points difference (101:63), but the start was certainly rusty and didn't look pretty. The defense at the beginning of the game was not good, with just about everyone using their hands too much instead of going into a stance, which led to way too many cheap fouls. Things tightened up at the second half, but can't say it was a good game. Need to bring more focus from the start to the second game tomorrow against the hosts, Brazil.

Some first impressions:

Houstan and Sharpe didn't have great games, but even at that, they are clearly on another sphere in terms of talent. Both got into early foul trouble, didn't play much in the first half, and finished it with 3 points each. They still managed to finish the game as the two leading scorers. Houstan had some close misses. He's still not strong enough to finish consistently with contact by the rim, but he gets there almost at will). From long range it looks like he has good touch, but his shots just didn't fall today. Sharpe played only 16 minutes for some reason. I'm not sure why he was on the bench when the game was close. As I said, I'd like him to be more assertive with his level of talent and not hide in the corner as he often did. But when he did attack the rim, he was really at another level -- smooth and athletic. Also made a good-looking 3-pointer and had an impressive chase-down block.

Nembhard and Clayton got all 40 minutes at the point and showed more or less what I expected from them with a bit of scoring, 14 shared assists, but also a couple of bad turnovers. Nembhard is a good and motivated defender, but you could see how the lack in size and athleticism is going to hurt him at the next level.

Jackson did his thing from the bench with his attack mentality and a nose for scoring, but I really can't see this working at the next level, again given his diminished size and athleticism. Davis penetrated well and is a good defender. But his outside shooting is really terrible at this point (all attempts were bad misses although they were open looks). A shooting guard who can't shoot is a real issue. The young Miller flashed out nice potential and athleticism, but also jacked up too many 3-pointers at any opportunity. Kind of telling that he shot 6 of them while Sharpe attempted only one.

Of the bigs, Boakye and Kalambay looked best. Boakye was as active and energetic as advertised and also showed some nice potential with his face to the basket. Shooting touch doesn't seem great at this point, which again reminds me of the Simi Shittu comparison. Kalambay is quite limited offensively, but moves well and was able to contribute on defense. Webley looked heavy and was quite disappointing. Not quite as heavy as Jaden Bediako 4 years ago, but still, this lack of athleticism and mobility would not fly in the modern game even from a bigger guy. Finally, Swanton-Roger and Hunger looked mainly like fillers.

Let's hope for a better start and showing tomorrow. Would like to see the rotation tighten up a bit and more minutes for Houstan and Sharpe.
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#18 » by Hair Canada » Tue Jun 4, 2019 7:05 am

In other games, Brazil beat Puerto Rico in a mostly-tight game. Neither team appears to have great size or talent, but both play energetic team basketball with good athletes that can give us a hard time.

The game of the day was actually US vs. Argentina. The US didn't start well against a very good Argentinian team that stunned the Americans with an early 17-point lead (25:8). Argentina has good size, some very nice aggressive guards, and a big SF, Esteban Caffaro, who looks like one of the best players in this tournament. They can be a very tough matchup. But then the US size, strength, depth and athleticism kicked in and they started playing really tight defense, forcing many turnovers with full-court press, and making their shots. They ended the game on a 75:30 run. Doesn't seem like anyone can keep up with this combination for too long. Combo forward Jabari Smith led the US and looked like a really good and active modern forward with all the tools (very good athlete, good outside shooting, some handle, and inside activity and touch).
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#19 » by Hair Canada » Tue Jun 4, 2019 8:02 pm

The second game today at 7:30 ET vs. hosts Brazil. A really important game, as the winner will likely play Argentina rather than the US in the semis. Canada is more talented but the Brazilians have good athleticism and strength in the frontcourt. Should be interesting.
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Re: U16 FIBA Americas: Team Canada preview 

Post#20 » by frumble » Wed Jun 5, 2019 12:24 am

Hair Canada,
Thanks for the excellent previews and analyses.

Canada with a strong Q1 against Brazil, up 27-15.
Houstan with 10.

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