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TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC

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TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#1 » by Hair Canada » Thu Jun 30, 2022 9:29 pm

After the 2020 championship was canceled due to COVID (too bad; that was the team of Sharpe, Houstan, Miller, Nembhard, and Boakye), the U17 WC is back this year and Team Canada will again be looking to compete for a medal.

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CHAMPIONSHIP LOCATION, DRAWS, AND SCHEDULE

This year’s tournament will take place in Malaga, Spain, with 16 participating teams from around the world. Similar to previous championships, the teams will first play in four groups of four (3 games) and then all 16 teams will face up in three elimination games, leading up to the gold medal game (altogether, 7 games in a timespan of 9 days).

Canada is in what might be the toughest group, Group A, with France, Serbia, and New Zealand. We’ll play three games in the preliminary group stage: New Zealand (July 2; 7:15 AM ET), France (July 3; 9:45 AM), and Serbia (July 5; 9:45 AM). The next stage will see #1 from group A vs. #4 from Group B, #2 against #3, etc.).

All games will be streamed on the championship website:

https://www.fiba.basketball/world/u17/2022

Head coach Patrick Tatham and his coaching staff (Jason Dawkins, Charles Hantoumakos, and Terry Upshaw) are back, coming off a bronze medal at the U18 FIBA Americas Championship in early June. It’s an interesting approach to have the same coaching staff for both the U17 and U18. Probably not a bad idea though, with the coaches bringing to the table some extra international FIBA experience.


THE COMPETITION

This is not the first time in international competitions that Canada is slotted into the “group of death” (remember the senior men’s group in the 2019 WC?). I’ve watched some games last year in the U16 European tournaments and thought that France and Serbia were probably the best two teams (Spain didn’t play), both with excellent size and some interesting talent. Both also finished their respective challenger tournaments unbeaten. There’s certainly an argument that these two, together with Canada, are all top-5 teams in this year’s tournament (all are also ranked among the top-6 in the world for boys' youth events).

France is the only country outside of the US that has rivaled Canada over the last decade in terms of steadily producing NBA talent. In terms of national team achievements, though, the French team has been much more accomplished than us. This year’s U17 French team is quite loaded with talent and size. Two guys who really stood out for me last year were the big SG Killian Malwaya (6’6), who’s a good shooter, but can also initiate offense and get into the paint, and their big man Alexandre Sarr (6’11; brother of OKC’s Olivier?), who’s a real force in the paint. Combo-forward Mohamed Diawara (6’8) was pretty quiet last year, but I think he also has good potential with a strong frame and some springs. I didn’t see any huge future stars on the roster, but it’s a deep athletic team with plenty of talent.

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Serbia for me was the most impressive team in European U16 challenger tournaments last year. The Serbs were really big, with 3 players 6’10 or taller, including the gifted center Malesevic (7’2). However, two of their best players (the big man Malesevic and PG Nikola Topic) are out with injuries this year. Even without them, there’s plenty of talent on this team. I really liked SG Onjen Stankovic (6’6), who didn’t shoot the ball that well last year and can have a bit of a loose handle, but did everything else at a high level (14ppg, 8.5rpg; 3.5apg, and 2spg). PF Lazar Gacic (6’11) was also quite impressive, showing some nice moves in the paint and the ability to stretch the floor. Like the French, there’s no one guy here who’s a superstar at this level (though Stankovic is very good), but there’s no doubt that they are one of the strongest teams in the competition.

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I haven’t seen New Zealand at all so can’t say much about them, but judging by their results at the Asian U16 (which was actually u17) two weeks ago, they are not the strongest team (lost to Australia, Korea, and Japan). The All Blacks are always dangerous with their fighting spirit and team-oriented style of play, and they even have some size this year. But Canada should be the clear favorite in the opening match of the tournament, which is good, since we tend to start these tournaments slowly and not be at our best in opening matches. We should focus our defensive attention in this game on their leading scorer, Nic Book (a 6’8 wing who only recently turned 16), as he was NZ’s main threat with 19ppg and 10rpg.

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Looking at the competition beyond Group A, the United States, as always, is the clear favorite. In these age groups, the Americans usually bring many of their most talented players. Since the U17s started in its current format, in 2010, they haven’t lost a single game, and only once did they fail to win by double digits… It should be noted though that this year they’ll have less continuity than usual. Only four players from last year’s U16 FIBA Americas gold team are back, though the depth of US basketball pretty much guarantees that they’ll be by far the most talented team.

Of those who did play in the U16 FIBA Americas last year, I really liked combo-forward Ron Holland (6’8), an excellent athlete who plays with great energy on both ends. The US likes to play small, with him at the center. Three other players I’m familiar with and think should lead the backcourt of this team are DJ Wagner (6’2), an explosive guard who can really put points on the board and might be the most talented guy on this team, David Castillo (6’2), and Krater Knox (6’4). Also really like the very young (15.5yo) wing Cooper Flagg (6'7), who's not one of their primary major scorers, but really plays the right way, makes big plays on both ends, and gives the US a team-oriented dimension. Overall, the Americans are not very big this year with only one player over 6’9 in 7’0 Denis Evans III, who looks like a pretty raw prospect. but, as usual, they're super athletic and with some great talent.

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Spain didn’t play last year, so I didn’t get a chance to watch them. But I watched their tight loss to the US in the last scrimmage before the games start (which looked more like a gold-medal game than a scrimmage). They looked great. The #2-ranked team in FIBA’s youth world ranking also looks like the second-best team in this tournament. They have a really strong frontcourt, led by Izan Almansa (6’9) from Real Madrid/Overtime Elite and Aday Mara (7’3). Almansa is physically developed, strong, and knows his way around the rim. But for me, Mara is the bigger talent. A 7’3 who moves really well for his size, understands the game, and is a terrific passer. Offensively he’s still a bit raw and can be hesitant. But defensively, he’s a difference-maker. Moves his feet well and is an excellent shot-blocker, with great length, timing, anticipation, and a good bounce. Really on a whole other level compared with someone like Canada’s Olivier Rioux.

I also liked Spain’s guard play. They have some size and play strong and committed defense. In particular, their leading guard, Sergio De Larrea, is a big PG (6’5) with some great flashy passing and a really nice handle. Playing on home soil, the Spaniards play great team basketball with a lot of passion and should be real contenders for the gold.

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Australia is also traditionally dangerous in these tournaments. They completely crushed the competition at the Asian U17 tournament two weeks ago, with 7’1 center Roco Zikarsky looking like a mobile and active presence in the paint. But I’m not so sure how well they are going to stack up against top European and American competition.


Finally, Argentina has a talented class, which was able to beat Canada in last year’s U16 tournament, reach the gold medal game, and even give the US a run for their money. The two wings, Juan Bocca (6’6) and Lucas Giovannetti (6’7) were two of the most significant players last month with their U18 team and they have a well-balanced team that plays very unselfishly.

In terms of individuals performers, I think Slovenia's Jan Vide and Japan's Yuto Kawashima will probably be vying for the leading scorer title in this tournament.


TEAM CANADA

We got to see most of this Canadian team last year at the U16 FIBA Americas and they showcased some nice talent. In particular, PG Mikkel Tyne had a strong showing (was selected to the tournament’s First Team). I also liked the performances from the shooters, Jacob Theodosiou and Ishan Sharma, the backup PG Baraka Okojie, and a couple of the younger guys (born in 2006): big men Oliveir Rioux and Char Yeiy, and the athletic wing Efeosa Oliogu. All of these will be back this year, with the unfortunate exception of Oliogu, who’s a significant loss.

But this current U17 team also has some welcome new additions. In particular, I’m happy to see two of the most talented Canadians born in 2005, rising SF Jovan Milicevic (6’8) and the intriguing big man prospect Christian Nitu (6’10). I’m also curious to see for the first time on such a stage the inexperienced but talented SG Felix Kossaras (6’5) and wings Hudson Ward (6’6) and Jaion Pitt (6’5).

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All in all, this team has good size, especially when considering the presence 7’6 Olivier Rioux. But perhaps more importantly, the shooting, which was sorely missing from the U18 Canadian team that we saw last month in the FIBA Americas, should be this team's strong point. Theodosiou (52% from 3 last year), Sharma (41%), Milicevic (49% from behind the arc in Nike EYBL this summer), Kossaras, Ward, and Tyne, if he can get back to his shooting form from last year (42% from 3) are all good (or even great) shooters and should be able to provide plenty of spacing for slashing and for the bigs to work in the paint. Nitu adds some shooting and spacing from the PF position and the point guard Okojie can also shoot it.

So for once, I’m really hoping to see a Canadian team that plays a FIBA-style game –- moving and sharing the ball, finding the open man, and knocking down perimeter shots. When playing the US and the strong European rivals, I don't think we'll have much of a physical or athletic advantage this time, so we’ll have to play smart basketball and shoot well to keep the games close.

I’ll dive deeper into the roster later on.
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#2 » by Bruin » Thu Jun 30, 2022 9:35 pm

Ron Holland is gonna be a very good player in the nba imo.

Dennis Evans is far too raw from what I’ve heard. He doesn’t move very well at all and his hips are too stiff

Idk much about him but Canadian Milicevic got an offer from ucla recently so I suspect he’s pretty good. Gonna be keeping an eye on his development
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#3 » by mojo13 » Thu Jun 30, 2022 9:46 pm

Supposedly during the 2 exhibitions vs Slovenia (1-1) the starters were:

Baraka Okojie
Felix Kossaras
Ishan Sharma
Jovan Milicevic
Olivier Rioux

Don't know the minutes and I'm a little suprised Nitu didnt start, but I'm gonna guess he ends up with more minute than Rioux, who I can't see getting more than high teens a game. Sort of a lesser Edey role - see what he can do to start the game, maybe get some guys in foul trouble, or pull him quickly if he starts fouling or is ineffective.

Tyne, Theodosiou, Osie I expect get major minutes too.


And finishing 3rd in this Pool might be the prefered path as it likley avoids the USA, Spain and France until the semis.
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#4 » by Hair Canada » Fri Jul 1, 2022 3:10 am

GUARDS


Mikkel Tyne | 17.2yo PG, 5'9, 160lbs | Brampton, ON

Tyne had a very underwhelming tournament with the U18s last month. At some point, unless you’re a freak athlete or an unbelievable shot and play maker (ideally, a mix of all three), size will catch up to you and for 5’9 Tyne, this was the tournament where it happened. The shot wasn’t falling for him (22% from the field; partly because he couldn’t see much daylight) and without it he struggled mightily to make a positive contribution, also having more TOs than assists.

Still, we should remember that he was our best and most consistent player in last year’s U16 tournament and should again be one of our leading guards. Hopefully, seeing more minutes against guys his age helps him get back to what he showed last year. He’s a true PG, a very good athlete with great speed, hang time, and handle (killer crossover), and has the ability to finish with both hands and change speeds. He also sports a smooth shot with good elevation and form and hopefully, he shoots it like he did last year (42%) rather than how he did last month. On the defensive end, Tyne is a pest, with very strength and lateral movement, who can really harass opposing guards and force some TOs.




Baraka Okojie | 17yo PG, 6'3 | Caledon, ON |

Okojie is the backup PG, but I could see him taking over the position if Tyne doesn’t bounce back. He had a really good showing last year and actually led the team in assists (5.5 per game), though he didn’t shoot the ball that well. Unlike Tyne, he has decent size for a PG (about 6’3 with long arms). He’s also a good athlete, quick, tough, and quite crafty, with high activity level on both ends of the floor. Made some nice progress this high school year as the lead guard and best player on his OSBA team, leading the team in both scoring and assists. Can be a bit wild going into the paint and sometimes gets in the air without quite knowing what he wants to do. Also still not as efficient as you would want to see in finishing at the rim and his perimeter shooting is quite streaky and can miss badly. But he’s probably the best long-term pure PG potential on this group and should see big minutes.

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Jacob Theodosiou | 16.7yo CG, 6'4, 170lbs | Waterloo, ON |

One of my favorite guys on this team. A great shooter and a gamer. Those who followed me here last year might remember that during the U16 FIBA Americas I wrote that not playing him enough in the first game against Argentina was the main reason we lost that game and ended up facing the US in the semis. I thought he was one of our best players last year. Was third in scoring despite playing only 16 minutes a game (9th on the team) and led the entire tournament in 3-point shooting percentage, with a fantastic 52% on good volume. Just a great shooter (also about 90% from the line). And he did that without the team working to get him open shots. I also really like his feel for the game and intangibles. Plays the right kind of basketball and doesn’t shy away from the moment, creating for himself and for others.

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That said, there’s certainly still work to do. Jacob is not the fastest or most athletic player out there (though he’s not a bad athlete). So he did struggle a bit against quick, long, aggressive, and athletic opponents on both ends. Defensively, he mostly managed to contain them with good anticipation and commitment (a couple of excellent steals). He was generally good on that end, though he did have to sometimes commit fouls to stop guys from blowing by him. Where I’m a bit more concerned is the creation on offense. Last year he was not yet strong or quick enough to turn the corner against good defenders, limiting his ability to create for himself and for others. And the handle, while good, did not look crisp enough to compensate for that. Also didn’t have quite enough explosion or length to finish well in the paint against athletic defenders. He needs to continue improving the handle to tap into the creative combo-guard potential, which I think would be his best future position.


Ishan Sharma | 16.9yo SG, 6'5, lbs | Milton, ON |

Sharma was one of the most pleasant surprises in last year’s tournament and one of the top performers. A sharpshooter with good size and great shooting form (both on 3-pointers and long 2s). The shot can be a bit streaky, which is probably not surprising at this age, but the form looks great, the release is quick, and he shoots it with confidence. Can also create some off-the-dribble when defenders over-commit and is a good passer. Was one of the best players for Fort Erie who won the OSBA this year. Until Jaden Clayton arrived, he held the PG position together with Leonard Miller and did a decent job, though he’s certainly more of an off guard. Like Theodosiou, he has some physical limitations (not very strong or long and a decent athlete, but not particularly explosive). But with the premium on shooting in today’s game, he’s a very useful player who can develop into a nice shooting specialist at the college level and potentially even beyond.

Sharma has looked great in Nike EYBL U16 this summer, scoring 19ppg, with 37% from 3 on really high volume (almost 10 attempts per game!) and 92% from the line. I think he’ll get a good chunk of minutes in this tournament and might even be a starter.




Felix Kossaras | 17.1yo SG, 6'5 | Montreal, QC

The guy I probably know the least about on this team. Never watched him play a full game, only some edited clips. From what I’ve seen, he’s a nice shooting guard with good size, though it looks like he’s on the skinnier side. A good shooter and slasher with some scoring instincts. Also a nice athlete, who can play above the rim with ease. Despite being primarily a scorer, he doesn’t look selfish from what I’ve seen and is a willing passer with good vision.

Kossaras wasn’t on the U16 roster last year and was not even invited to training camp. But based on reports from the scrimmages against Slovenia, it seems that he might start and be one of the main rotation players. Looking forward to seeing what we have here.
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#5 » by Hair Canada » Fri Jul 1, 2022 1:34 pm

WINGS

Jovan Milicevic | 17.1yo SF, 6'8, 190lbs | Toronto, ON

Milicevic is arguably the most talented player on this team. He has played over the last two years for Dream City Christian high school in Arizona, alongside other Canadians (including Shaedon Sharpe). And it feels like he’s just ready to break out this year. Was playing very well at Nike EYBL this summer (almost 20ppg and 7rbg, shooting 49% from 3 on 5 attempts per game) and hopefully he’ll now shine with the national team. Milicevic has great size and shooting touch for a wing (might even be 6’9). But he’s more than just a shooter. A gifted scorer, with a nice frame, who can get to the rim, finish with authority, or use deceptive moves to get his shot off. Also has a good mid-range shot. Not a high flyer, but a decent athlete and exactly the type of player that this team needs, bringing size and shooting at the wing, potentially even seeing some minutes as a small-ball PF.

I heard some comparisons to a young Bogdan Bogdanovich thrown around, but that’s probably mainly because of the Serbian connection. Anyway, he’s one of the players I’m most looking forward to seeing on this team and I’m really glad he’s suiting up after missing last year’s U16. Will be interesting to watch him play the Serbs, who claim him as one of their own.




Hudson Ward | 17.0yo SF, 6'6 | Leduc, AB

Ward broke into the scene this high school season with a host of impressive scoring performances, including back-to-back 50-point games early in 2022. I think he’s the only guy on this team who’s still playing at his hometown high school (Leduc Composite High School) and hasn’t moved to play south of the border or at a Canadian prep team.

Ward is a really good athlete off of two feet, who explodes when he has some space and finishes above the rim with authority and physicality. A really good scorer from all 3 levels, able to both shoot it well and get into the paint. Also able to finish well with either hand and has a good shooting touch. On the defensive end, he uses his burst and length to contest and block shots.

As one of the only two true wings on the team, I expect he’ll see significant minutes from the bench and if his scoring prowess translates at this level, he could be one of our breakout prospects in this tournament.




Jaion Pitt | 16.4yo SF, 6'5 | Norwood, ON

For me, Pitt is perhaps the most surprising guy to make the final roster. When I watched him play in Canada at an earlier age, he looked like a good prospect but didn’t show much passion or toughness. He then moved south of the border to Dream City Christian in Arizona, to play alongside other Canadians (Shaedon Sharpe and Jaden Clayton, who both left at the beginning of this year, as well as Jovan Milicevic, mentioned above) and it seems like he’s made significant progress. From the little I’ve seen, he has good defensive chops, using his very good length and strong body to contest and contain opponents. I’m less sure about the offensive arsenal and how developed it is. He seems to prefer operating in the paint and using his strength and length to overcome smaller guards and wings.

As one of the younger and less experienced guys on this roster, I’m not sure how much playing time he’ll get. I’m certainly curious to see his progress, but to some extent, I was a bit surprised that the coaches preferred Pitt over one of the bigger wing prospects who were in the final training camp, Ramougi Nyagudi (6’8) and Chris Tadjo (6’7), who are also young and from what I’ve seen before might have a higher ceiling. As always, though, we have to trust that after seeing all of them training together for two weeks, Pitt has earned this spot on the roster and I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s able to do.
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#6 » by Hair Canada » Fri Jul 1, 2022 4:53 pm

BIGS


Christian Nitu | 16.7yo PF, 6'10 | Whitby, ON

One of the most intriguing players on this Canadian team. He was in training camp last year but eventually was not available to play with the U16 team. Still, multiple sources from the Canada Basketball training camp were gashing about him, claiming that he was the best long-term prospect on the team. Shortly after, a video of him surfaced, where he was dominating high school kids and looking like the reincarnation of Chet Holmgren -- a painfully skinny but incredibly lengthy and fluid big -- adding to the mystique.

So what are we getting here? Nitu is a very dynamic wing/PF, who can handle quite well, create some off-the-dribble, and shoots pull-up threes with surprising accuracy and ease (including some side-steps). Defensively, he’s a good shot-blocker, with long arms, good timing, and some burst.

A Canadian Chet? I would curb the enthusiasm. Watching him play varsity ball this year (for Royal Crown in the OSBA), it was clear that there’s still a long way to go. Yes, he’s very fluid, can shoot, and handle some. But while he is skinny as they come, he’s not even close to Chet in terms of the amazing fighting spirit and motor, and also doesn’t quite have the same size. He was frequently overwhelmed on both ends of the floor by bigger stronger players, did not manage to make a significant defensive impact, and offensively he got pushed out of the paint and had to revert to tough pull-ups, which he can certainly make but not consistently.

I suspect he might look better against kids his age, but he’s still young (will only turn 17 in October) and has lots of work to do on his body and game. So I don’t expect him to dominate at this level and there will probably be games where he’s going to look a bit lost against boys who’s body already filled out and can match his length and athleticism while overpowering him. That said, the talent is certainly there and I’m looking forward to seeing him in this tournament, as well as how he develops in the future.




Char Yeiy | 16.2yo PF, 6’8 | London, ON

One of the youngest prospects on this team, Yeiy’s game is still very raw. He rushes plays, often makes questionable decisions, has mental lapses on defense, and misses some easy lay-ups. But you can also see some very nice potential here with his combination of strength, fluidity, excellent frame, and tremendous length (might be closer to 6’9 by now). On defense, he can really lock in for stretches (though he also loses his man or mistimes jumps more often than you’d like). On offense, he also shows flashes and can finish nicely around the rim. I also like that he plays with confidence and is not shy about trying things, even if right now it often doesn’t end up well. Yeiy also has a decent shooting touch and I think once his game settles in and develops he has the potential to shoot a little from the perimeter (needs to improve his shooting form though). He’s one of the guys I’m most curious to see in terms of his development from last year, as I think his ceiling is relatively high.

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Stephen Osei | 17.3yo PF | 6'9 | Toronto, ON

Osei was the starting PF for the U16 team last year and performed quite well. He has some impressive physical tools – he’s long and a good athlete, with Good mobility and some defensive presence. But he’s also quite raw offensively and the touch around the rim is questionable. Still, he showed some surprising range last year, knocking down a couple of 3-pointers. I think he still has quite a way to go before he becomes a useful high-level college player but the physical tools are there and he started playing rather late so we can expect the progress to continue. Not sure he’ll get as many minutes this year with Nitu and Milicevic around. But it’s possible that he’s made some significant progress over the year (I haven’t had a chance to see him play high school ball this year) and will surprise again.

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Olivier Rioux | 16.4yo C, 7’6 | Montreal, QC

Time to address the 7’6 elephant in the room. I was somewhat pleasantly surprised last year by what Rioux was able to show last year, especially in the game against the US. Despite his faults as a player (more below), FIBA basketball at this level is actually a setting that fits Rioux quite well. Especially on defense, you can shield him from the P&R by playing zone and drop defense without getting punished too heavily, especially by teams that don’t have exceptional shooting or playmaking (which is most teams at this level). He can then become useful in defending bigs who are used to having their way in the paint but can be overwhelmed by his sheer size. Offensively, it can be frustrating watching someone this big failing to impose himself. But he’s been improving on that end of the floor and started making layups at a better rate and hopefully, the extra year of training and progress will show.



Despite the size, comparing Rioux to other 7+ feet guys who will play in this tournament, such as Spain’s Mara or Australia’s Zikarski (or Serbia’s Malesevic, who won’t be playing due to injury) clarifies just how slow his reaction time is. His sheer size will get him some rebounds, blocks, and layups, but he’s very limited athletically and doesn’t process the game fast enough, often causing him to look like he has bad hands and lacks passion for the game and sufficient aggressiveness. Hopefully, these issues have been somewhat improved over the last year at IMG Academy, where other Canadian bigs like Edey and Bediako have made big jumps.

I still expect that Rioux will start for this team and get some significant minutes. Even with all the issues I mentioned above, it’s hard to not at least try to make use of such a huge body in the paint and if he’s been able to make some incremental improvements, he certainly might be useful for the team in certain scenarios.
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#7 » by TheLP » Fri Jul 1, 2022 5:52 pm

This feels like one of the most interesting group of players on a Canadian junior team in a while.

Really interested to see how Nitu & Milicevic do
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#8 » by Hair Canada » Sat Jul 2, 2022 12:39 am

SOME NOTABLE OMISSIONS

Before we start (Saturday, 7:00AM ET), some notable omissions. Not all are necessarily guys who are better than those who ended up on the roster. More of a short list of other interesting prospects who are eligible for this team and we might be hearing of in a few years. I won’t mention here guys who were on the training camp and didn’t make it to the final roster.

In contrast with our U18 team this summer, this U17 one should have no issues with shooting. But I think it might be somewhat lacking in what was that team’s major strength: big athletic wings. And that’s somewhat unfortunate because there are two guys who could have really helped with that.

Efeosa Oliogu. I’ve mentioned Oliogu earlier. He’s arguably the most talented high school player in Canada, regardless of age and has clear NBA potential with size (6’7), explosive athleticism, great body control, and long strides, in addition to some advanced reads and passing chops, and surprising creativity. The perimeter shooting is not quite there yet (not a fan of his shooting form) but the overall talent is really on another level and even as a 15yo, he was one of our best players last year, as well as one of the best players in the OSBA this year while playing 3 years up. Seems like he declined the invitation to this event in order to participate in other competitions this summer. Really too bad he’s not with the team, especially since we’re also missing the guy below.

Jalique Dunkley-Distant. Another phenomenal athlete, a 6’7 wing, who for me is clearly a top-5 talent in the Canadian class of 2024. Dunkley-Distant, who was also not with the U16 team last year, has been breaking out this summer in the Nike EYBL, showing jaw-dropping NBA-level explosion and the ability to score in a hurry. He has a decent handle for a wing and is able to finish with either hand at the rim. Can create for himself, but is not selfish and also likes to make plays for others. Also, a good and motivated defender who sits in position and moves his feet well. Not a great shooter, but he has made some nice strides over the last couple of years. The decision-making is an area for improvement and the finishing touch around the rim could use some fine-tuning. But he’s a versatile all-around scorer, with length, burst, and a good motor, who could have been a very useful addition to a team that lacks exactly a player of this sort at the wing.

DJ Burke. A PG with pretty good size (around 6’3 with a strong body), who’s a bit of a late bloomer. I quite like his physical profile for a lead guard, with a big strong body and good athleticism. Excellent rebounder for a guard and a good slasher with a pretty tight handle and good attack mentality. Also a good facilitator and passer, showing some live-dribble passes and good feel for the game. He could certainly improve his touch around the rim and the perimeter shooting, while looking decent, yields inconsistent results. If the shooting comes along, I think he’s a strong prospect. He wasn’t invited to the assessment camp, but I’m not sure why. Maybe the coaches prefer the other lead guards right now or maybe there’s another story there that I’m not aware of.

Olivaier Faubert. A 6’10 SF from Ottawa who’s been showing some nice sparks. Versatile, mobile, a decent athlete, and can also shoot, though the shooting form probably needs some work. Didn’t quite put it all together last year, but seems like he’s trending in the right direction and he’s an interesting prospect with his size and skillset.

Arden Begaj. A 6’11 shooting center who’s more on the skinny side and might be redundant with the current roster, but holds some future promise as a stretch big, with excellent perimeter shooting and some nice mobility. Not sure he’s better than any of the bigs on the final roster but another guy to keep an eye for.


BOTTOM LINE: IS CANADA A MEDAL CONTENDER?

Since the inauguration of this tournament, in 2010, Canada has only been on the podium once, a bronze medal in 2010 with a super-talented team that featured two eventual #1 draft picks (Wiggins and Bennett), as well as Kevin Pangos, Dyshawn Pierre, Olivier Hanlan, and Duane Notice. Since then, though, our best achievement was 4th place in 2018. Even another very talented team in 2016, featuring Barrett, Nembhard, Brazdeikis, Shittu, Kirkwood, Guerrier, Akot, and Djuricic, couldn’t make it to the podium. These tournaments can be tough, and most of the other teams are better prepared, with a longer training period and more scrimmages, better trained, and play more team-oriented basketball.

Still, a country that has produced nearly 30 NBA players over the last decade cannot make excuses and has to at least be aiming for a spot on the podium. Eventually, things are likely to come down to a decisive game in the quarter-finals. The rival there would likely be one of the European teams, Argentina, or Australia. That said, if we don’t do well in the group stage and lose to both Serbia and France, we will also have a stronger rival (Lithuania?) in the round of 16.

In short, this is not going to be easy. If I had to guess, the US and Spain are both clearly better teams. Franca, Serbia, Australia, and possibly also Argentina and Slovenia are also all dangerous and are more or less at the same level as Canada. But I think we have a fairly strong and balanced team, with a good mix of shooting, playmaking, and size, which should have a pretty decent shot at a medal (I would maybe put it at around 40%). No doubt that this would be a great achievement if it happens.

FINGERS CROSSED!
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#9 » by TheLP » Sat Jul 2, 2022 12:06 pm

1/15 from 3 in the first half isn't ideal

Nitu looking smooth offensively though
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#10 » by Hair Canada » Sat Jul 2, 2022 1:27 pm

Really very little to take from the game today against NZ (Canada wins 94:46).

The All-Black is a very weak team and whatever worked (or hasn't worked) against them doesn't say much about how things will look like vs. France and Serbia, and then later on in the tournament.

It's also the opening game of the tournaments and, as is usually the case, there were some jitters and we didn't look that good. The shooting was terrible (2 of 23 from 3 for a team where this is supposed to be a dominant area). Shots were just not falling. Obviously, if that continues we're going to struggle mightily, but I expect it will improve (Sharma, Theodosiou, and Milicevic were missing open shots). Also, the coaches were still searching for the right players so everyone got minutes. You'd expect the rotation to tighten a bit later on.

Individually, I'm going to reserve judgment for a more competitive match. Nitu showed some sparks (as well as inexperience), Sharma had a quietly good game, and Okojie looked like the better of our PGs. Osei was efficient in the paint, and Ward showed his athletic prowess in the open court.

But again, there's very little we can learn from this first game. France tomorrow will be a much better indicator of what we have here.
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#11 » by WuTang_OG » Sat Jul 2, 2022 2:32 pm

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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#12 » by TheLP » Sat Jul 2, 2022 3:48 pm

Hair Canada wrote:Really very little to take from the game today against NZ (Canada wins 94:46).

The All-Black is a very weak team and whatever worked (or hasn't worked) against them doesn't say much about how things will look like vs. France and Serbia, and then later on in the tournament.

It's also the opening game of the tournaments and, as is usually the case, there were some jitters and we didn't look that good. The shooting was terrible (2 of 23 from 3 for a team where this is supposed to be a dominant area). Shots were just not falling. Obviously, if that continues we're going to struggle mightily, but I expect it will improve (Sharma, Theodosiou, and Milicevic were missing open shots). Also, the coaches were still searching for the right players so everyone got minutes. You'd expect the rotation to tighten a bit later on.

Individually, I'm going to reserve judgment for a more competitive match. Nitu showed some sparks (as well as inexperience), Sharma had a quietly good game, and Okojie looked like the better of our PGs. Osei was efficient in the paint, and Ward showed his athletic prowess in the open court.

But again, there's very little we can learn from this first game. France tomorrow will be a much better indicator of what we have here.


I hope you're right about tightening the rotation, feels like in previous years they were a bit too slow to do it and always seem to make a few questionable decisions with who they choose to favour.
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#13 » by Hair Canada » Sun Jul 3, 2022 12:08 am

Things just got quite a bit more complicated for the Canadian team after a rather shocking upset in group B, where Lithuania came from behind to beat the Spanish hosts.

France looked great against Serbia today. Lots of size and athleticism. I think they're the clear favorites for our game tomorrow, as Canada is more athletically challenged this year and even had some trouble finishing in the paint against the very limited NZ today. We'll need to play much better and, in particular, shoot much better, to have a shot tomorrow (9:45AM ET).

And here comes the wrinkle: If we don't beat France tomorrow (and then ALSO beat Serbia on Tuesday), we're very likely headed for one of the following two unpleasant scenarios:

1. A really tough game against hosts Spain in the round of 16.
2. A meeting with the all-time unbeaten Americans in the QF.

In other words, to get to the SF and be able to contend for a medal, it is very likely that we'll need to beat at least one of the top-5 (arguably top-3) teams in this tournament.
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#14 » by TheLP » Sun Jul 3, 2022 2:05 pm

This might be the most embarassing quarter of basketball I've seen from a Canadian junior team

How is Nitu not on the court for the entire 1st quarter? I'm officially on the Patrick Tatham hate train
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#15 » by TheFutureMM » Sun Jul 3, 2022 2:08 pm

Yikes - I tuned in for the 1st quarter of France vs Canada.

Might be one of the worst quarters I've ever seen from our boys teams. Not to dive too deep into it but the offence is non-existent. Lots of 1v1 action from our guys and France easily squashes it. Just feels like their wings are bigger/stronger than ours. 3-ball hasn't been hitting - Sharma and Milicevic have both missed a couple (with Tyne contributing with a contested 3 off the dribble)... On the fast-break side Tyne blew a relatively open lay-up summing up the quarter in my head. The only highlight was Rioux with a turnaround hook off a post-up that went in.

Defence, were getting nuked on fast-break opportunities, France has been able to convert. We also weren't closing out on their shooters which lead to a quick 10-0 lead.
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#16 » by TheLP » Sun Jul 3, 2022 2:25 pm

Nitu gets on the court for 3:30, drops 4 quick points... immediately yoinked
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#17 » by Hair Canada » Sun Jul 3, 2022 4:31 pm

Well... That was brutal. Watching yesterday's games, it was clear that the French are a better, more talented, and much more athletic team, but this was quite a beatdown (55:87). As futureMM said, this is probably the worst I've seen a Canadian junior team play in quite a while.

It starts with the shooting. I wrote before the tournament that this is a strong shooting team. Well, so far in two games they are a meager 6 of 46 from 3-point range. The 3 guys who were supposed to bring it most -- Milicevic, Sharma, and Theodosiou -- are 3 of 24... Some of these were wide-open shots. So France is not only more athletic, it also shot 38% from 3 to Canada's 17%.

But it's not just the shooting. The team has more TOs than assists, and it shows. The ball sticks, and the passes are slow and telegraphed. today against a long athletic team it looked especially bad, with 19 TOs, many of them live balls that led to easy French fastbreaks.

I wrote before the start of the tournament about the lack of athletic wings on this team, mentioning, in particular, Oliogu and Dunkley-Distant. Well, today was the game where it really showed. I don't think there was a single position on the court at any given time where we had an athletic advantage...

Like the game yesterday, there's not much we can learn from this game individually. The only guy who managed to get into the teeth of the defense and make things happen a bit was Okojie, but he was also quite inconsistent, with too many TOs (5) and misses (2 of 11).

I do agree that I would have liked to see Nitu play more (he was actually +7 in 12 minutes of action) as one of the guys with the higher ceilings on this team. He's still very raw on both ends of the floor, but in a game like this you might as well give him big minutes.

I think Tuesday against Serbia, another good and well-coached team, it's going to be rough again and they will come as the favorites. They're not as athletic though, so if we can start making some shots maybe we can stay in it.
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#18 » by TheLP » Sun Jul 3, 2022 4:37 pm

It feels like we're getting worse n worse as a team every year despite having more n more D1 college players.

These club players over in Europe always seem so much more polished within a system. We look like we have absolute tunnel vision which is pretty much all AAU ball is.
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#19 » by TheFutureMM » Sun Jul 3, 2022 4:51 pm

Hair Canada wrote:I do agree that I would have liked to see Nitu play more (he was actually +7 in 12 minutes of action) as one of the guys with the higher ceilings on this team. He's still very raw on both ends of the floor, but in a game like this you might as well give him big minutes.


Full transparency, I didn't watch the second half, but what I did see from Nitu on his one drive + finish to the rim and the jump shot - it looked decent. My only concern is that he plays WAY smaller than 6'10 on defence. Felt like France didn't even notice him out there. Again, I know he's 16, and super under-developed physically, but I'm pretty sure that's why he wasn't getting the minutes.

Summing up my take on the game, it felt like it was France's U18 team vs our U16 team physically, and that the cohesion + coaching were in different leagues as well.
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Re: TEAM CANADA AT THE U17 WC 

Post#20 » by TheLP » Sun Jul 3, 2022 5:02 pm

TheFutureMM wrote:
Hair Canada wrote:I do agree that I would have liked to see Nitu play more (he was actually +7 in 12 minutes of action) as one of the guys with the higher ceilings on this team. He's still very raw on both ends of the floor, but in a game like this you might as well give him big minutes.


Full transparency, I didn't watch the second half, but what I did see from Nitu on his one drive + finish to the rim and the jump shot - it looked decent. My only concern is that he plays WAY smaller than 6'10 on defence. Felt like France didn't even notice him out there. Again, I know he's 16, and super under-developed physically, but I'm pretty sure that's why he wasn't getting the minutes.

Summing up my take on the game, it felt like it was France's U18 team vs our U16 team physically, and that the cohesion + coaching were in different leagues as well.


I know a lot of that is true about Nitu, but we have size elsewhere. Why not play him as a 3 with 2 bigger bigs to handle the paint (that you can camp in FIBA) and let him get after it offensively. There are some empty jerseys getting cooked in his place, it's not like he's replacing superstars if he plays more minutes

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