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Anthony Bennett leads foreign boom
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On June 28, 2013 @ 11:59 pm In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK — Anthony Bennett broke new ground for Canadians in going No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Thursday’s NBA draft.
When Gonzaga center Kelly Olynyk went No. 13 and ended up with the Boston Celtics, it marked the first time two Canadians were selected in the lottery of the same draft. Maryland center Alex Len, selected fifth by the Phoenix Suns, is the highest Ukrainian player selected, and Pittsburgh center Steven Adams (No. 12 to the Oklahoma City Thunder) became the first lottery pick from New Zealand.
“In terms of the basketball (in New Zealand), I’m hoping that will skyrocket,” Adams said. “Right now that’s the main plan. Everybody’s focused on rugby. They now have a different path to take and accomplish their goals, whether it be the NBA or whatever.”
International players rebounded in the 2013 draft. An NBA-record 12 foreign-born players were selected in the first round on Thursday, surpassing the 10 selected in the 2011 draft. Four foreign-born players were selected in the first round last season.
The depth from overseas comes in cycles. This turned out to be a good year for international players, and a few teams have said already they don’t plan to stash players in Europe and wait for them to develop.
Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond wants 18-year-old Greek small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo to play in the NBA next season, and the Cavs are hoping the same for 19-year-old Russian swingman Sergey Karasev. The Atlanta Hawks plan on 19-year-old German point guard Dennis Schroeder contributing next season, too.
Canadian basketball is starting to gain a stronghold. Cavs forward Tristan Thompson, drafted in 2011, Kris Joseph, who is headed to the Boston Celtics as part of the blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets, Spurs guard Cory Joseph and Orlando Magic forward Andrew Nicholson are among the young NBA players from Canada.
Andrew Wiggins, the top high school player in the country, who will play at Kansas this season, also is from Canada and is expected to be the top pick in the 2014 NBA draft.
“Canada basketball is on the rise,” Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant … [For more on NBA draft notebook: Anthony Bennett leads foreign boom, click here.]
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