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Michigan Wolverines guard Nik Stauskas celebrates scoring over the Florida Gators in their South Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Arlington, Texas March 31, 2013. (JIM YOUNG/REUTERS)
Michigan Wolverines guard Nik Stauskas celebrates scoring over the Florida Gators in their South Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Arlington, Texas March 31, 2013. (JIM YOUNG/REUTERS)

Stauskas part of growing crop of Canadian stars set to make mark at combine Add to ...

Rowan Barrett, the assistant GM of Canada’s men’s basketball program, saw Stauskas play in high school when he was a 15-year-old at Mississauga’s Loyola Catholic School.

“It was clear that there was talent, there was ability,” Barrett said. “The keys you wanted to know were: What was his mind like? And how much would he be willing to work at it? The great thing is he is excellent in both of those areas. Tremendous work ethic and definitely has the mind of a winner. You put those things together with size and length and skill, and you can find yourself a pretty good basketball player.

“I’m very excited for him.”

Wiggins, Ennis and Stauskas are all projected lottery picks, which would make this year’s draft the most successful, in terms of numbers, in Canadian history. Anthony Bennett became the first Canadian to be picked No. 1 overall when he went to Cleveland last year. Canadian Kelly Olynyk (Boston Celtics) was the 13th pick last year.

Barrett, 41, said the Canadian growth in the game is a product of opportunities and exposure that weren’t there when he was growing up in Toronto.

“Night and day,” Barrett said comparing the generations.

Wiggins, Stauskas and Ennis grew up watching the Raptors. Barrett aspired to be a track and field athlete.

“I played many of the sports but at that time in Canada, you just had some tremendous athletes in track and field who were bringing home medals from Olympics Games. So those athletes were the ones you wanted to emulate,” Barrett said. “But a funny thing happened, I kept growing.

“It’s a tremendous environment right now for these kids.”

The 60 participants in this week’s NBA combine will be tested on skills such as vertical leap, shooting, lane agility, and speed. Each team is also allotted a half-hour interview with 18 players of their choosing.

12:09ET 14-05-14

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