Last night I watched the much talked about Fab 5 documentary. Their impact on college basketball was massive and it impacted on the game of basketball. If it ever does make it to air in Canada you owe it to yourself to watch it. Something is happening with three Canadians in Texas that might have an impact on Canada in the NCAA that could be remembered 20 years later. The Texas Longhorns have Tristan Thompson and Cory Joesph who will be representing Canada in Longhorn burnt orange in March Madness. We have had Myck Kabongo in this blog who will be joining his fellow Canadians at Texas next season. These three young Canadians might not be as brash as the Fab 5 were, but their impact on kids in this country could be pretty big. Thompson and Joesph have already opened up eyes in their rookie year at Texas. Both start for Texas and were battling in the Big 12 tournament this past weekend making it to the Final and falling to Kansas who they beat earlier in the season. They enter March Madness as the 4th seed in the West and are in the same bracket as the defending champion Duke Blue Devils.
We have spoke often in this blog about the chances of these 3 kids taking there talent to the NBA level. Earlier in the season when Oklahoma City rolled through Toronto, Kevin Durant spoke about these kids in glowing terms. He compared Tristan and Cory to himself and D.J Augustin who scored 23 vs the Raptors yesterday. He also spoke in the same glowing terms of Myck Kabongo as well. He talked about a pick-up game down in Texas in which Myck and Cory were on the floor playing against some Texas Alum in T.J Ford and others on the floor. He suggested that they more than held their own on the court. Here is what K.D had to say back in December.
T.J Ford is a former Raptor and Longhorn and was in town this past Friday. Ford has had his struggles this year with the Pacers being pushed to the background in favour of youth. He will be a free agent this summer and hopefully finds a home where he can revitalize his career. T.J was misrepresented in his time here in Toronto as a bad guy. The reality could not be further from the truth. He has always been a guy that has helped others coming up especially those that come from Texas. D.J Augustin benefited from that and now so are Cory Joesph and Myck Kabongo. T.J's passion for his former school has always been great and he, Kevin Durant, Lamarcus Aldridge and other former Longhorns have always given back to the program even after they have come to the NBA. Durant earlier in the interview above talked about Texas as a real family and spoke with some praise and respect for Coach Barnes and the program as you just heard. When you consider he only was there a season, it speaks to how much an impact the program had on him. Ford who led the Longhorns to Final Four also has much love for Barnes, the program and the new Canadian additions to the mix. Here is T.J speaking with me on Texas and it's Canadian kids.
I saw Myck Kabongo playing for Canada in the summer in San Antonio. He blew me away and caused me to reach out to him. He has been in the blog on several occasions and when I started getting the pieces to put this thing together I was able to talk with him back at the start of 2011 to get his thoughts for this feature. We start by talking about that visit that Kevin Durant referenced above. Where Myck and Cory were on the floor with T.J Ford, D.J Augustin and others. We go on to talk about his thoughts about going to Texas and there was a brief point where he was not committed to Texas. He explains about that and how his game was coming along at the time, as well as his thoughts on how Cory and Tristan were doing earlier in the season.
Myck before he goes to Texas will be taking part in the McDonald's High School All American Game at the end of the month in Chicago. We had a interview with him around the All-Star Break in the NBA just after he was named to participate in this game. If you missed that interview here is a link to check that out. While Cory and Tristan's first March Madness will begin at 12:15 on Friday kicking off CBS/TSN coverage taking on Oakland. Texas is the West Region and will be playing in Tulsa on Friday and Sunday. Their bracket includes last year's champion Duke, Former Coach of the Fab 5 Steve Fisher and surprising San Diego State, The UConn Huskies and Kemba Walker who won 5 games to win the Big East Title and Arizona who would be a potential 2nd round opponent for Texas. Others in this bracket include Michigan, Penn State, Cincinnati. It will be interesting to see how they do as Texas had a bit of a slide late in the season but did make it all the way to the Big 12 final before falling to Kansas who they beat earlier in the season.
We have talked a lot about the prospects of all three of these kids not just making the NBA but the chances they could be Raptors in this blog. As well as Tristan and Cory have done, this may just be the start of something big. Both Kevin and T.J really thought of the 3 players Myck potentially could be the best of this trio. When you look at the potential of an NBA work stoppage next season basketball fans could be desperate for some hoops to watch. These 3 kids, should both Tristan and Cory remain at Texas, which with the lockout looming is more likely. It could make their profiles grow by leaps and bounds in Canada with no NBA potentially.
In a world of Big 3's it might just be the start of Canada's Big 3. I have got to speak with Myck on several occasions and he is one of the nicest young men I have ever come across. He is humble and respectful but still very confident and highly skilled. The same can be said for his fellow Canadians at Texas. They are just 3 examples of the growing amount of Canadian Talent that has invaded the NCAA. But these 3 represent a chance for something that has never happened. A Canadian that could be good enough to be a lottery pick in the NBA. Regardless of that it seems they all have NBA in their future if you listen to all the experts and guys around the league that know them.
March Madness is starting to mean more than just your office pool if you are a fan of basketball in this country. If you are a fan of the NBA in Canada it makes you hopefully that the NBA will have more than just Steve Nash to be proud of. If you are a Raptor fan you hope that all 3 of these Toronto based guys can be as good as advertised and some day come home to Toronto and the Raptors. There is still work for them to do but these kids work hard and play just as hard. They are young men that if you love the sport of basketball and are Canadian you can be proud of.