Posts Tagged ‘Khem Birch

Heading to Chi-town for McDonald’s Game

- March 28th, 2011

Check back here and in the Sun throughout the week as I’ll be reporting on the exploits of Myck Kabongo, Khem Birch and Kyle Wiltjer, three of Canada’s brightest hoops prospects.

They will be playing in Wednesday’s McDonald’s All-American Game.

Assorted thoughts: Raptors-Suns and Canadians in NCAA

- October 7th, 2010

Nobody should read too much into a pre-season game, especially considering the tired Suns were playing a back-to-back while the Raptors were letting loose for the first time, but a 51 point blowout win was a positive step for the team.

It is clear Jay Triano, who has preached intensity and defence throughout camp, is getting his message across.

These werent’ your father’s Raptors and seeing a team in Red manning up and playing with intensity was a very strange sight to these eyes. Rare since the inception of the franchise in 1995 have Raptor teams played with heart and defensive fire.

The 1995 group did, the 1999-2001 group did and the Kevin O’Neil, all defence zero offence team had no choice but to play that way.

It is unclear if this will continue, but maybe P.J. Carlesimo’s potential influence was not overstated after all.

Will be interesting to see what the Raptors do with Joey Dorsey who brings a lot of what Reggie Evans does except at a far cheaper price. The roster will have to be pared down at some point, with Ronald Dupree being an obvious cut.

The team almost moved Evans in the Calderon to Charlotte deal, but might hang onto him because he is a ringleader in the fire/defensive departments and provides an obvious spark.

In other news, Holland Landing’s Kevin Pangos – considered one of Canada’s three star-level point guard prospects with Cory Joseph and Myck Kabongo – has decided to commit to Gonzaga.

There he will join Kelly Olynyk, Manny Arop and possibly Robert Sacre (if he returns for his senior season after playing his junior campaign this year).

Kabongo will join Joseph at Texas next year, if Joseph is not a one-and-done player.

Gonzaga, Texas and Syracuse have become the NCAA destinations for Canadians. What is interesting about Pangos to Gonzaga is that the trend has been that West coast kids (like Arop of Edmonton, Olynk of B.C. and formerly Bol Kong of B.C.) go to Gonzaga. Ontario kids have been going elsewhere, but Pangos has bucked that trend.

Toronto-born point guard Junior Cadougan is looking to make some noise at Marquette now that he is finally back to 100% and Pickering’s Devoe Joseph will again play heavy minutes for Minnesota.

The massive Bhullar brothers, currently playing at the Kiski School near Pittsburgh, are being heavily courted by schools like Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

Montreal’s Khem Birch, ranked No. 4 overall in his entire 2012 class has commited to Pittsburgh, while Kyle Wiltjer (son of Canadian Greg Wiltjer) will go to Kentucky after being pursued by Gonzaga.

It is an exciting time for Canadian basketball fans and Canadian NCAA content is only going to increase in the next few years.

On Canada Basketball

- August 30th, 2010

Things are not looking good for the Canadian senior men in Turkey.

Wilting down the stretch in back-to-back games is discouraging for Canadian basketball fans, but the fact is, they just aren’t good enough. A lot of the late woes comes down to being tired because of a lack of depth. There is a lack of depth because most of the bench players should not be playing in a competition of this magnitude. They simply aren’t talented enough.

On the positive side, that should change in the next few years with the brightest class of talent coming up in Canadian history.

Never have so many young Canucks received scholarships from major NCAA powerhouses.

GTA Guards Myck Kabongo (Texas next year) and Cory Joseph (Texas this fall) are both considered elite prospects.

Brampton big man Tristan Thompson (Texas this fall) was once the No. 1 overall prospect for his class and is still considered a future NBAer. Montreal’s Khem Birch is getting considerable buzz as is Kyle Wiltjer, who just commited to one of the biggest schools of them all, Kentucky.

Young Andrew Wiggins is one of the most hyped Canadian prospects ever. He consistently excels against players two to three years older than him.

All are capable of stepping in and giving the national team a massive shot in the arm down the line.

There are also players like Dwight Powell (Stanford), Devoe Joseph (Minnesota), Kris Joseph (Syracuse, though he has had issues with the Canadian program), Robert Sacre (on the current team), Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure), Junior Cadougan (Marquette) and high schooler Kevin Pangos that can significantly improve the talent level of the team. There are others as well that I am not as familiar with, yet.

Not all of these guys will make the team or continue to develop into studs. But I firmly believe enough of them will to make Canada a top 10 team and eventually top 5 in the world within the next four-to-eight years.

27 wins; UK game official; Pangos, Birch, Wiltjer dominating at Nike Global Challenge

- August 9th, 2010

Noticed ESPN has the Raptors finishing last in the East with 27 wins. I think they will overachieve a bit and win 33 or so, but the only team in the NBA I feel certain will be worse than the Raptors is Minnesota.

I think 27 is probably a worst-case number for the Raptors, they won’t be that bad, but they will be one of the three worst teams in the East. Of course, a trade or two will most likely happen before the season starts, so this will all have to be revisited then. Had Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw become Raptors, this would have been a 40-win team, at least.

Of course if you believe as I do that there is no point being simply bad in a cap system (rather you should be truly awful) 27 wins is a very good thing for this franchise. Especially with stud Harrison Barnes and a bumper crop of point guards waiting to be drafted next summer.

The NBA made the two March games in London, England official today. Raptors, Nets, yikes, couldn’t they have found a better matchup? ESPN predicts the Nets and Raptors will be the worst teams in the East. Not exactly the 1927 Yankees storming the UK hoping to win new fans for the NBA.

I continue to be impressed by the crop of Canadian talent coming up. I’ve written a ton about some of the older kids, but defensive beast Khem Birch, point guard Kevin Pangos and big man Kyle Wiltjer deserve way more press than they are getting. I’ll work on it. Here‘s their latest dominating performance.