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Why Basketball Canada is rooting for Philip Scrubb
REGENSBURG (David Hein’s Eye on the Future) – There has been plenty written about the health of basketball in Canada – also here in this column. Of course, the land of the Maple Leaf is producing some great talent – such as Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Ennis, Kelly Olynyk and many others.
Why then are millions and millions of basketball enthusiasts in Canada putting so much hope in Philip Scrubb, who at 21 years old is actually older than many of the Canadian youngsters now entering the NBA?
Because unlike Wiggins, Ennis, Olynyk and all the other Canadian players in the NBA, Scrubb has a realistic chance to reach the NBA from college in Canada – whereas his compatriots all went to colleges in the United States.
Scrubb is a native of Richmond, British Columbia who has helped Canadian Interuniversity Sport powers Carleton University to four straight CIS titles. And he and his 23-year-old brother Thomas are two big reasons Carleton is the heavy favorite for a fifth consecutive crown this season – what would be their 11th in the last 13 years.
Scrubb has averaged at least 17 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game over the last three CIS seasons. He also has excelled in Carleton exhibition games against NCAA teams. Since 2011, he has torched University of California at Santa Barbara, Villanova, Wisconsin and Memphis twice with at least 30 points. He scored at least 19 points in all but two of the 13 exhibition games.
In 2013, Scrubb had 14 points, six assists and three rebounds in a 69-65 overtime loss to Syracuse. And then on November 2, 2014, he struggled from the field hitting just 3-of-11 shots – and 1-of-8 threes – in collecting 10 points, eight assists and two rebounds in a 76-68 loss to Syracuse, failing to hold a 15-point lead.
Scrubb has shown without a doubt that he can play and hold his own against the best in NCAA basketball. But the question is if the NBA has taken notice and will give him a shot. Most observers don’t expect Scrubb to be drafted but believe he will be invited to an NBA team camp to at least have a chance to make a team.
And then it’s up to how Scrubb performs, if he can convince the team – or another NBA club – that he deserves a spot.
Should that happen, it would have a huge impact on the CIS back in Canada. Scrubb would become the first CIS graduate to reach the NBA since Jim Zoet in 1982. The only other CIS player to play in an NBA game was American-born Brian Heaney in 1970. They played a combined total of 27 regular season and playoff games.
Two CIS players were sort of close as Will Njoku was drafted out of Saint Mary's CA in the second round by Indiana in 1994 and Warren Ward was invited to the NBA Combine out of the University of Ottawa in 2013.
Players from the CIS have had – and are having – successful careers in Europe, including Canadian international Aaron Doornekamp, Jeanty Osvaldo, Tyson Hinz, Willy Manigat and Terry Thomas among others.
But that NBA hurdle needs to be broken. That would legitimize the improved work that the CIS is doing because the level of college basketball in Canada is improving across the board. And that’s being recognized elsewhere in the United States, if not yet by the NBA.
Ta’Quan Zimmerman is an American who went to Thompson Rivers University in Canada for one season before declaring for the 2014 NBA Draft, where he went undrafted.
The state of Michigan’s leading scorer in high school Brett Stockton declared that the will be playing in the CIS and not the NCAA, signing with Carleton.
When asked why Canada, Stockton said: “I thought it would be pretty cool to play for a team that wins the national championship every year. It would be nice to get some rings.”
The 1.85m Stockton averaged 34.1 points per game for Owendale Gagetown High School but could not garner interest from Americans colleges, deciding instead to head to the land of the Maple Leaf.
And he’s heading to Carleton where they and the rest of Canadian basketball fans are hoping Scrubb can be a trailblazer.
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