Andrew Nembhard’s summer just got a lot busier as he was named to the Canadian Senior Men’s National Team training camp, acknowledged as one of the 29 best players from the country who will hopefully help the team place well enough in the FIBA Basketball World Cup to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
This won’t be Nembhard’s first taste of international basketball as he played for a number of Canadian national teams as a teenager and last summer he attended the senior men’s camp. He turned some heads with his performance and with a year of basketball with the Gators under his belt he’s sure to impress even more.
Nembhard, should he accept the invitation (he’s expected to) will have this schedule:
First, the training camp will take place from August 4-6 in Toronto. Then, they’ll play two exhibition games in Canada on August 7 and 9 versus Nigeria. They’ll be a bit of a break followed by exhibitions against Australia (August 16 and 17 in Australia), New Zealand (August 20 and 21), and USA (August 26). If Nembhard were to make the team he’d head to China for the first week and change of September for the FIBA World Cup. It’s not clear if he’s looking to make the big squad and go to China given the time, and there’s a chance he’s just going to be there for the training camp and some of the exhibition games.
In terms of making the team, he’ll have his hands full competing with some NBA talent. The backcourt include Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Cory Joseph, Luguentz Dort, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Brady Heslip, Jamal Murray, and others. While there is lots of guard talent at the camp there aren’t a lot of floor generals with a pure passing game like Nembhard’s and that could be a niche role he could fill.
Another notable thing about Nembhard’s invitation to the camp is that he was the only NCAA player that got the call. There were a handful of players from this year’s draft class, one that Nembhard could have declared for, but Nembhard is the only player about to play college hoops that Canada Basketball deemed worthy of a look.
I talked to some sources within Canada Basketball and the program is extremely high on Nembhard, an opinion that was formed early as he was playing for Canada’s Cadet team and was enforced with his play at Canada’s camp last summer as well as his stellar freshman campaign for Florida. He stands to represent the red and white a lot throughout his career and while he may not make the team this year he almost certainly will in the future.
Even if he doesn’t make the squad the opportunity to compete at the camp and maybe take part in some of the exhibitions will be fantastic. First of all, he’ll get to play with NBA players like Dwight Powell, Kelly Olynyk, Jamal Murray, Cory Joseph, Tristan Thompson, and more (including all the players from this year’s draft class). Getting used to playing with great talent should really help Nembhard before he comes to play with Florida’s tremendous roster and this will be one heck of an offseason workout. Nigeria, Australia, and New Zealand all have strong international programs (as well as USA, obviously) and if he gets into the games he’ll be playing against proven talent.
Additionally, playing international basketball will give Nembhard a chance to play high-level basketball on a court with the 3-point line the distance the NCAA is adapting. This will give him a chance to get used to what spacing is like with the arc being that distance and that should help him even more when he comes back to Florida.
FIBA basketball also played with a 24 second shot that resets to 14 on offensive rebounds. That makes the game significantly faster than the college product and fans looking to see the Gators play faster should be happy to see Nembhard getting experience with a faster game. Getting the tempo up with Team Canada should certainly help with the speed Coach White wants to play with and the experience could be extremely valuable.
All in all, I think this is great for Nembhard and I think it will help him hit the ground running when Florida’s 2019-20 season begins. He’s poised to have a tremendous sophomore season and if that’s the case his experience this summer with Team Canada could be one of the factors we point to.