BROOKLYN, NEW YORK (June 20, 2018) – Six Canadians were selected in the 2019 NBA Draft on Thursday night, not only surpassing the previous record of four Canadians picked in the 2014 NBA Draft but also setting the record for most draftees from a non-U.S. country in one draft. In addition, four Canadian first-round selections also established a new record for the country.
There has been at least one Canadian player taken in the past ten drafts and this is the sixth time in the last seven years that a Canadian has been drafted in the first round.
Since 1983, a total of 33 Canadian players have been picked in the NBA Draft, with 24 being chosen in the past decade. For the third time in history, Canada once again became the only country outside the U.S. to have two players drafted in the lottery in the same draft.
R.J. Barrett was the first Canadian to hear is name called when he was selected third overall by the New York Knicks.
Barrett, a 6-foot-7, 202-pound small forward, was named a first-team All-ACC selection, a consensus first-team All-American, and the USA Today National Player of the Year after averaging 22.6 points per game this season with the Duke Blue Devils. Starting all 38 games during his freshman season, the Mississauga, Ont. native also averaged 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Barrett established new Duke and ACC freshman scoring records with 860 points, the second most points by a Duke player in a single season.
Barrett becomes the highest drafted Canadian player since Andrew Wiggins, who was drafted 1st overall in 2014 and third-highest-drafted player ever from Canada after Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, who was drafted 1st overall in 2013.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker was the second Canadian off the board when he was selected 17th overall by the Brooklyn Nets. However, he is expected to dealt to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Alexander-Walker, a 6-foot-4, 204-pound shooting guard, played a major role this season for the Virginia Tech Hokies, averaging career highs in both points (16.2) and rebounds (4.1). The Toronto, Ont. native earned Third-Team All-ACC honours after leading Virginia Tech in total assists (113) and steals (56).
Brandon Clarke became the next Canadian to be drafted, when he was taken with the 21st overall pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Like Alexander-Walker, Clarke also appears to be on the move as indications are he’ll be traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Clarke averaged 16.9 points per game last season with Gonzaga and ranked fourth nationally with a .687 field goal percentage. After missing last season transferring from San Jose State, Clarke, a 6-foot-7, 207-pound power forward, was a Naismith Defensive Player of the Year finalist after averaging 3.1 blocks per game.
The previous Canadian first round record of three selections was broken when Mfiondu Kabengele was drafted by the Brooklyn Nets 27thoverall. According to reports, Kabengele will be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kabengele earned an All-ACC Honorable Mention and was named the ACC Sixth Man of the Year and to the ACC All-Tournament First Team with the Florida State Seminoles. The Burlington, Ont. native averaged a career-high and team-leading 13.2 points and 5.9 rebounds as a redshirt sophomore during the 2018-19 season. Kabengele, a 6-foot-8, 256-pound centre, is also the nephew of former NBA standout and NBA Hall of Famer, Dikembe Mutombo.
History was made when Ignas Brazdeikis became the fifth Canadian drafted when he was selected 47th overall by the Sacramento Kings. Brazdeikis is expected to be traded to the New York Knicks where he join fellow Canadian draftee R.J. Barrett. Barrett and Brazdeikis both represented Canada at the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship.
Brazdeikis turned heads in his freshman season with the Michigan Wolverines as the he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. Brazdeikis, a 6-foot-6, 221-pound small forward, was also made an All-Big Ten Second Team selection after averaging 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds this season for the Wolverines.
Canada set the record for most draftees from a non-U.S. country in one draft when Ottawa native Marial Shayok was picked 54th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. This broke the previous record established by France with five selections in the 2016 Draft.
Shayok started in 34 games this season for the Cyclones and was an Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention selection and a Julius Erving Award Finalist (Small Forward of the Year). After leading his team in scoring and finishing second in the Big 12 Conference, averaging 18.7 points per game, Shayok was named an All-Big 12 First-Team selection. He also averaged 4.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists
Last year at the 2018 NBA Draft, Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Hamilton, Ont.) was drafted 11th by the Charlotte Hornets and later traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, while Maryland forward Justin Jackson (Toronto, Ont.) was drafted 43rd by the Denver Nuggets and traded to the Orlando Magic.
“I’d like to congratulate all our Canadian players on achieving their dreams after being selected during tonight’s NBA Draft. As a country, Canada continues to produce some of the top basketball talent in the world as a Canadian has now been selected in each of the last ten NBA drafts. On the women’s side, earlier this year Bridget Carleton became the latest Canadian picked in the WNBA Draft making it four consecutive years a Canadian has been chosen. The game has never been stronger in our country and if everyone in the basketball community continues to work together and align their efforts, basketball will continue to experience sustained growth for years to come.” – Glen Grunwald, President & CEO
“Today is a momentous day for all our Canadian players drafted into the NBA. With a record number of Canadians selected in the 2019 NBA Draft, this exemplifies our players reaching for the highest levels in the sport. This growth has not happened overnight and is result of many years of planning, programming and winning. In addition, recognition needs to be shown to all the coaches within the provincial/territorial sport organizations, clubs and national team programs for providing these athletes with an opportunity to develop their talent and skills for this moment. As we look at these athletes and those coming behind them, it is exciting to know that our Olympic teams will be well positioned to compete over the next three cycles.” – Rowan Barrett, General Manager, Senior Men’s National Team