Team Canada’s young guns ready for world

Saskatoon native Trey Lyles is considered a top-10 high school prospect. (Kelly Kline/Getty Images)

It was revealed late Saturday night that Andrew Wiggins would not be suiting up for Canada at the FIBA U19 World Championships later this summer.

Although not shocking, this announcement still came as a disappointment to Canadian basketball fans particularly because the announced tryout roster for the Junior Men’s National Team looked strong with Wiggins on it.

However, with the kid being dubbed “Maple Jordan” now officially off the squad it will be up to the other players to make up for the large hole he leaves behind.

Luckily, the training camp roster looks solid, even without Wiggins, and it will be up to head coach Roy Rana to cut down the list of 21 young men invited into a workable unit that will look to compete for gold in Prague.

The following is a list of 10 players who will likely make the team and whose basketball careers should be watched with interest going forward.

Name: Trey Lyles
Position: Power forward
Height: 6’9″
Hometown: Saskatoon
Collegiate commitment: Undeclared

The Skinny: If this is the first time you’re reading about Lyles expect to see a whole lot more in the coming months. Lyles is currently ranked as a top-10 prospect for the 2014 high school class and, along with Wiggins, he was named to the World Select Team at this year’s Nike Hoop Summit.

As for his game, Lyles is an extremely skilled power forward with offensive maneuvers that have scouts comparing him to Tim Duncan as he’s very smooth in the post with a number of countermoves at his disposal whenever his initial one gets stopped.

Lyles might be the most important player for Team Canada. If he can get his game going early, it should open things up for everyone else. Because of how much Lyles can do, Rana will be able to use him creatively. For example, as a stretch four because of his good mid-range shot. Or even post-ups at the free-throw line, a la Dirk Nowitzki, because he can face up and put on the ball on the floor when needed.

Name: Tyler Ennis
Position: Point guard
Height: 6’2″
Hometown: Brampton, Ont.
Collegiate commitment: Syracuse

The Skinny: Ennis is the best Canadian basketball prospect entering college next season not named Andrew Wiggins. Ennis is a deadly passer with great court vision and an ambidexterity that a lot of NBA point guards wish they had. He won’t wow you with athleticism the way other guards will but he’s crafty and knows how to change speed and direction to get to spots on the floor that will enable both himself and his teammates to succeed.

His role on the team will be as the lead offensive initiator and facilitator.

Name: Xavier Rathan-Mayes
Position: Shooting guard
Height: 6’3″
Hometown: Toronto
Collegiate commitment: Florida State

The Skinny: Rathan-Mayes probably boasts the best shooting touch on the Canadian junior team. He already has NBA range and that, coupled with a decent handle, allows him to knife into the lane and elude defenders where he can pull up in the mid-range with nice touch or finish at the rim.

Rathan-Mayes will be integral to the success of Canada at the World Championships because he will be one of the few players that will be able to spread the floor because of his deep threat.

Name: Kevin Zabo
Position: Point guard
Height: 6’2″
Hometown: Gatineau, Que.
Collegiate commitment: Undeclared

The Skinny: Kevin Zabo plays a very similar game to Ennis in that he looks to facilitate more than look for his own offence. He’s very adept at the drive-and-kick and more often than not will make the proper decision.

Zabo will be a good back-up point guard to Ennis because of the similarities in their games. He isn’t the shooter that Ennis is, but the same plays and actions should be able to be run regardless of the point guard on the floor.

Name: Duane Notice
Position: Point guard/shooting guard
Height: 6’3″
Hometown: Toronto, Ont.
Collegiate commitment: South Carolina

The Skinny: A classic combo guard. Notice has a college-ready body with speed and finishing ability that makes him extremely difficult to stop in the open court. He’s at his best when he’s on the fast break or cutting to the hoop where his physical gifts truly shine.

Expect to see Notice in lineups when Ennis, Zabo or when both of them are off as he has experience manning both guard positions.

Of note, unlike many of the other players on the junior roster, Notice spent the majority of his high school career in Canada where he developed something of a rivalry with now-Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Kevin Pangos. He played his final year of high school in the United States.

Name: Mikyle McIntosh
Position: Small forward/power forward
Height: 6’6″
Hometown: Pickering, Ont.
Collegiate commitment: Illinois State

The Skinny: The words rugged, athletic and – unfortunately – undersized are the three best to describe McIntosh. Strength along with blessed leaping ability and a nose for the ball around the basket are all qualities you love to see in a power forward. McIntosh possesses all of these but his height lends him to being more of a combo forward than a pure four.

Look for Rana to put him into spots where he will receive the ball in movement such as off cuts or in the pick-and-roll as opposed to down in the block. With his strength and athletic ability the result should either end in a big dunk or a trip to the free-throw line. He may also see some pick-and-pop action come his way as he’s developed a semi-consistent mid-range jumper.

Name: Justin Jackson
Position: Small forward
Height: 6’7″
Hometown: Ajax, Ont.
Collegiate commitment: Undeclared

The Skinny: At only 16 years old, Justin Jackson is the youngest player invited to training camp. Basketball recruiting website Future150 lists Jackson as the 16th-best player in the class of 2016. At such a young age, Jackson already has tremendous physical attributes on his side and he uses them to get to the rim with relative ease and finish with force.

Jackson is likely the only player on this list who has a high chance of being cut simply because of his age. Playing in the Red and White game on Tuesday will serve as a good learning experience for him as he doesn’t often get to play with and against players at the same athletic level that he’s at.

If he does make the team, however, he’ll likely be on it as a secondary or tertiary scoring option as he’s shown an affinity as a scorer early in his basketball career.

Name: Chris Egi
Position: Power forward
Height: 6’8″
Hometown: Markham, Ont.
Collegiate commitment: Undeclared

The Skinny: Chris Egi is another 16-year-old that’s been invited to training camp but, because his birthday is in September he is the running for the class of 2015.

Egi is a physical specimen and seems destined to become Canada’s rim protector. He has long arms, a strong body, is very athletic and has a knack for shot-blocking timing.
Despite his age, Canada would be remiss to keep him off the team as Egi’s defensive instincts and tenacity, combined with his shot-blocking ability will go a long way to shore up the team’s second unit.

As an aside, Egi is also an outstanding student, sporting a 95 per cent academic average and is currently being recruited by Harvard.

Name: Jamal Reynolds
Position: Shooting guard/small forward
Height: 6’5″
Hometown: Pickering, Ont.
Collegiate commitment: Undeclared

The Skinny: Jamal Reynolds can flat-out score the basketball. Capable of using an array of dribble-drive moves along with smart screen usage and a streaky jumper, Reynolds can get hot in a hurry and has the explosive ability to bury a team.

In a tournament in environment a player like Reynolds can singlehandedly win you games.

Name: Matthew Atewe
Position: Centre
Height: 6’9″
Hometown: Toronto, Ont.
Collegiate commitment: Auburn

The Skinny: Matthew Atewe has a big, strong body, has good mobility and developing shot-blocking instincts.

He’ll be valuable on the team not only as an interior defender but also as a finisher in the pick-and-roll. He has good hands that can catch the ball in traffic and a nice soft touch that lets him finish around the basket.

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