NEW YORK — If Canada qualifies for next summer’s FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Spain, their roster could be loaded.
Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Tyler Ennis and Kelly Olynyk are all expected to join the squad if they qualify at this weekend’s FIBA Americas Championship in Venezuela, CIA Bounce coach Tony McIntyre told SNY.tv during an interview Saturday.
“I think it’s more than likely that [Wiggins] will,” said McIntyre, who has coached Wiggins, Bennett and Ennis, his son and a freshman point guard at Syracuse, with the CIA Bounce AAU team.
“This year was just a case of him wanting to get ready for college [ at Kansas].”
A year from now, Wiggins will likely be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft — following fellow Canadian Bennett in back-to-back years. Although Wiggins would be getting ready to join an NBA team in the fall of 2014, he would have time next summer to play in the World Cup.
That could set up the delicious possibility of Wiggins leading a Canadian team against an American team featuring Kevin Durant, who has committed to playing for the USA in the event.
“This year was just a case of him wanting to get ready for college,” McIntyre said of Wiggins. “Preparing for the NBA, I think when you’re able to be around other NBA players and go through training camp and bring your own trainer if indeed he has one by then, I think it’s a perfect situation to get ready for the NBA.”
The World Cup is slated to run Aug. 30-Sept 14 2014, while NBA training camps don’t open until late September and early October.
“I think it will match up well,” McIntrye said. “I think you’re seeing it right now with Cory [Joseph], Tristan [Thompson], Andrew Nicholson, Joel Anthony, all those guys are committing to it in terms of their time and it has no conflict with the NBA season.”
How good could Canada be with Wiggins and the others?
“I think it could be really good,” McIntyre said. “I think it’s a potential medal team. I think they’e working out some kinks right now in terms of figuring out how to play together and what works. They looked pretty good [Friday in a win over Jamaica].
“Certain guys are going to have to step up, but I think putting those guys into the mix next year it just adds a whole other level of athleticism and more guys you gotta worry about coming off the bench and in the games for the other teams.”
Although an under-23 format is unlikely for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Wiggins told SNY.tv last summer that a Canadian team could dominate such an event.
“We can win it all,” Wiggins said then.
Asked specifically about a U23 matchup with the U.S., Wiggins was confident.
“I think our talent can match their talent,” Wiggins said of the U.S. “I think it would be a well-fought game, close game. I don’t think anyone can really say that one team’s better than the other.”
In addition to Wiggins, McIntyre expects Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Olynyk, the No. 13 pick of the Celtics, and Ennis, the Syracuse floor general, to all play for Canada next summer. Bennett and Olynyk are both dealing with injuries.
“I think [Ennis] will be there with Wiggins and a healthy Bennett,” McIntyre said of his son, who helped Syracuse go 4-0 on its recent Canadian swing.
“I think if he has a great season this year [enabling him to go to the NBA in 2014} and I think no matter what, he would be out at the Team Canada camp. He's basically got a spot there in terms of being able to contribute to Team Canada. He's got a good relationship with [Canadian head coach] Jay Triano, who’s been checking in on him all the way through the championships and into this season.”
McIntyre believes the Canadians could be loaded in the backcourt going forward with Ennis, Joseph and other young guards coming up.
“They’re going to have some difficult decisions and not to mention all the other point guards that Canada has right now,” he said. “Myck Kabongo, who I think is really going to benefit from this year and develop. Kevin Pangos out at Gonzaga has had a pretty good career so far. Olivier Hanlan at Boston College, who did amazing in the ACC this year. So there’s a lot of guys that can play the 1-2 combo there, which is what they need, guys to get into the paint, guys to be able to score the ball as well.
“All these point guards are great distributors but they need guys to put numbers up, too.”
**For more stories on Andrew Wiggins, click here.