On Friday morning Canada Basketball officially released their roster for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Of Basketball and unsurprisingly Andrew Nembhard was on the list. If you were able to watch any of Canada’s exhibition games then it will be obviously why he made the cut as his feel for the game, passing, positional size, and a further-developed scoring touch than we saw at Florida last year made him one of the most affective players on the floor in those contests.
The other notable guards that made the team are Cory Joseph (one of 2 NBA talents on the roster), Kevin Pangos (you may remember him from Gonzaga), and Brady Heslip (a sharpshooter that played at Baylor). Past that group there are a few other ball handlers that went to school at Canadian universities and have went on to be pros in europe but Nembhard will likely be ahead of them on the depth chart.
Not only is Nembhard on the squad but he’s going to be relied upon. Canada doesn’t have great size on the perimeter so he’s going to be needed in that area. Coach Nick Nurse was not only using Nembhard as a point guard but as a wing in some rotations and I think that’s going to continue as he tries to get his best players on the floor. They played some good basketball in exhibitions with Nembhard playing next to Kevin Pangos and I’d assume he’d look great next to Cory Joseph who is much more of a scoring guard than a true point. Joseph didn’t play in the exhibition games so it’s not something we’ve seen yet but I’ll predict it’s going to happen.
The FIBA World Cup begins on Sunday in China. There are certain to be some really tough games and Nembhard is going to continue to get valuable experience against seasoned pros. Canada had 7 exhibition games, all against really good programs, and with all the games at the World Cup expected to be tight contests Nembhard is getting a ton of great experience, experience that should be helpful for when the Gators are playing in the heat of the SEC schedule and hopefully deep into March.
For those wondering about the injury Nembhard looked to get in one of the exhibitions against Australia, it looks like he’s totally fine. Although the leg-on-leg contact looked scary, and seeing him helped off the floor looked even scarier, he played an exhibition only a few days later and it was against USA and seeing him play strong D on players like Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell confirmed he must be feeling fine. If there were any concerns moving forward I don’t think he would have stayed in the event so fortunately, I don’t think we need to worry.
There will be some other Gator content in the World Cup as Scottie Wilbekin will be playing for Turkey and Nick Calathes will compete for Greece. Since their time at Florida both have done the work to make sure they could compete internationally for those countries and their stellar play has made them valuable pieces of their national programs. Calathes might especially be one to watch as the Greek team is a lot of people’s picks to upset USA and win the tournament. Whatever happens, there should be some good basketball played at the event and you’ll be able to see some Gators sprinkled throughout.