Every third Thursday in June has been a dream come true for a Canadian youth who have dreamed of playing professional basketball at the highest level for almost twenty years.
2023 will continue that trend.
Canadian youth basketball has been on a hot streak as of late. There has been at least one Canadian National Basketball Association (NBA) draft pick for ten straight years. That streak ended in 2020 but restarted a year later. In each of the last two drafts, two Canadians were selected in the first fourteen picks. This is impressive.
In 2021, Joshua Primo, from Toronto, was selected 12th overall by the San Antonio Spurs. One pick later, the Indian Pacers chose Chris Duarte, who was born in the Dominican Republic and has Canadian citizenship through his father.
The back-to-back Canadian selection trend continued in 2022 when the Indiana Pacers added to their Canadian backcourt by choosing Bennedict Mathurin sixth over, followed by the Portland Trailblazers’ selection of Shaedon Sharpe.
On the 22nd, at least two, perhaps up to four, Canadian-born hoopsters are projected to have their names called in the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) annual draft.
Scarborough, Ontario native Leonard Miller is projected to be the first Canadian chosen in this year’s draft. The 19-year-old Miller played high school basketball for Thornlea Secondary School in Thornhill, Ontario, before heading south to face stronger competition.
Measuring 6-foot-10 with a lean 211-pound frame and an impressive 7-foot-2 wingspan, Miller is seen as a big man with guard skills still growing into his body.
Miller averaged 18 points per game and eleven rebounds in a breakout year with the G League’s developmental squad, the Ignite. The forward has also played for various Canadian youth national teams.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper is a second Canadian who has quietly moved his name up the 2023 draft board. The Montreal native has risen from a relatively unknown prospect to a draft commodity after a strong showing at the recent combine in Chicago.
The 6-foot-8 with a lean 212-pound Marquette wing tested well, showcasing a 40.5-inch max vertical jump, and shot 64% in the 3-point star drill. He ranked high on agility and speed drills, including the lane agility test (10.59 seconds), shuttle run (3 seconds) and three-quarter sprint (3.21 seconds).
During the first day of scrimmages, Prosper, who boasts a 7-foot-1 wingspan, scored 21 points on 11 shot attempts and 7 rebounds in 22 minutes.
“I just wanted to come out here and play with great energy, go make hustle plays, and really impact the game in multiple ways,” Prosper, who averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds this past season, said after the game.
Ranked by Ringer.com as the 24th best prospect, Prosper is projected as a “Tenacious, disruptive defender with an effective, no-frills offensive game.”
Two other Canadians have a shot at having their name called.
Brampton Ontarios’ own Charles Bediako, a center that played at the University of Alabama, hopes to have his name called. The seven-foot second-year center played a crucial role in helping Alabama capture both the 2022-23 SEC regular season and tournament titles.
He averaged 6.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game while shooting an impressive 65.9% percent (108-164) from the field.
Charles had pre-draft workouts with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Charlotte Hornets, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers and his hometown Toronto Raptors.
Bediako hopes his potential as a shot blocker and defensive stopper entices an NBA team to draft him.
Mississauga’s Nick Ongenda is the final Canadian hoping to get drafted.
The six-foot-eleven forward from DePaul University in Chicago was one of the premier shot blockers in college basketball. Ongenda missed the first 25 games this past season with a broken wrist, but in only eight games, he had an astonishing 35 blocked shots and averaged 12.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game.
The 22-year-old defensive wizard worked out for the Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets and the Utah Jazz in the lead up to the draft.
The NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 22, 2023, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Whether drafted in the first or second round or undrafted, these Canadian prospects have a chance to increase the numbers of True North ballers in the world’s best basketball league.