This has been a long time coming for basketball fans in Canada. Basketball is at its pinnacle of
popularity to date in Canada, and came full circle with the Raptors securing their first NBA
championship last week. The sport has grown exponentially in the last decade, and appears to
be poised to challenge hockey as our national past time with its continued growth at all levels
Now that the hype of the Raptors first chip is starting to slow, the focus has shifted to what could
be a historic draft night for Canadian players and Canada Basketball in general. A record
number of players are expected to be drafted tonight at the 2019 NBA draft, with the possibility
of as many as 5 first round selections from our home and native land. From RJ Barrett to Marial
Shayok, the draft is loaded with top notch talent from The North as the golden age of Canadian
Basketball appears to be here. There is over 100 Canadians playing Division 1 basketball last
year, and that number is going to continue to grow as the talent pool has never been deeper in
The likes of RJ Barrett, Brandon Clarke and Nickeil Alexander-Walker appear to be locks to be
taken in the top 20 with Barrett being projected in the top 3. I spoke with Cedric Carter (owner of Galaxy Training For Athletes) who is
renowned for his skill development work in the basketball community and has trained many of
the players heading into the draft. He gave me some insight on some of the players who more
than likely will be selected tonight that are not as well known to most.
Here is a look at his breakdown of these potential NBA players.
Mfiondu Kabengele - Nephew of NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo. He has grown 5 inches
over the last 2 summers and is a load on the block. Kabengele has also improved his perimeter
game which led to him being the leading scorer for Florida State. He did so despite being moved
into a 6 th man role that he took and ran with.
Marial Shayok – From Ottawa, this young man can fill it up plain and simple. His shooting touch
is top notch, and his length/athleticism will allow him to guard multiple positions in the switch
happy NBA. He transferred from Virginia to Iowa State to get more PT and it appears to have
paid off for him big time.
Ignas Brazdeikis – A big time scorer who is not afraid of the moment, Ignas has the potential to
be a big steal for whoever picks him up. He thrives in big moments, and his high IQ and
confidence will allow him to be ready for whatever comes his way. Also has an excellent
shooting touch from all over the court.
Luguentz Dortz – This young man has the body and mentality of a seasoned NBA vet already. Had
some questions about his true position coming into the year, but flourished as a PG for Arizona
State. His shooting touch has drastically improved over the last year. Combine that with his
body and high IQ, and you're looking at a potential late 1st /early 2nd round steal for whoever scoops him up.
Simisola Shittu – A 6’10 stretch 4 type player, Shittu has proved that his torn ACL is not an issue
moving forward despite it causing him to slip on some draft boards. He is a good rebounder
who is able to get it and attack in transition. He is also capable of guarding multiple positions
due to his athleticism. He will end up being a steal for whoever gets him if he ends up slipping
It is a very exciting time for these players as well as others like Lindell Wigginton and Oshae
Brissett, as their dreams of reaching the NBA are within reach. The country has never been
positioned better to infiltrate the league, and has us positioned to be strong medal contenders
in the upcoming World Cup and Olympics. And now, with the Raptors reaching the sports
pinnacle with their championship run, it only projects to get even bigger and better for
Canadian Basketball moving forward. There has never been a more exciting time in Canadian
basketball history, and the crop of players entering this years draft are poised to help lead the
charge for our nation for years to come.