A crushing buzzer-beating loss to the Czech Republic at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria, British Columbia caused Team Canada to miss the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but there's no denying the bright future that Canada Basketball possesses.
Missing key players like Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kelly Olynyk, Dillon Brooks and Tristan Thompson at the Olympic Qualifiers left Canada shorthanded in its pursuit for a 2020 Olympic bid, but when the nation is at full strength, it should have one of the best rosters in the world.
Although cracking that roster will be very challenging when everyone is healthy, there's a young Canadian guard who has already made promising improvements this offseason and hopes to work his way onto the Senior Men's National Team by the time the next Olympic cycle rolls around.
In an interview with NBA.com's Gilbert McGregor, San Antonio Spurs rookie Joshua Primo - a Toronto, Ontario native and the No. 12 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft - says making Team Canada is a goal he is working toward ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
"Absolutely, that's the goal," he told NBA.com of playing for Canada. "Olympics 2024, that's what I hope. I hope Nick Nurse is still there and that I can be on that team. That'll be fun."
Primo burst onto the scene this offseason with a handful of stellar workouts at the NBA Draft Combine, working his way from a relatively unknown prospect, to a sure-fire first-rounder, to a lottery selection by the highly-renowned Spurs organization within a matter of weeks.
MORE: Primo is ready to get to work in San Antonio | What does Primo bring to the Spurs?
The 6-foot-5 combo guard caught the eyes of scouts with his plus size and length for his position, but Primo will also be the youngest player in the NBA this season, as he doesn't turn 19 until Christmas Eve. That youth and untapped potential, mixed with the history of San Antonio's player development, should bode well for the Alabama product.
With three years until the next Olympics, Primo will have to work relentlessly to earn a spot on the roster, but he's already fostering relationships with some of his potential teammates to learn the steps he needs to take to achieve his goal.
"The good thing about Canada Basketball is that it's a real close-knit group. So, once people know that there's another Canadian kid coming up, they all kind of reach out," he told NBA.com.
"I've been able to talk a lot to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a little bit to RJ Barrett, guys like that, and they just helped me kind of just go through this process and not go through it blindly," Primo continued. "Just being able to go into it confidently, telling me what to expect. And I think it's helped greatly, especially being in the position that I'm at, so, I'll be continuing to reach out to them in the coming years."
That group of young Canadian NBA players like Gilgeous-Alexander, Barrett, Murray, Brooks, Luguentz Dort and Nickeil Alexander-Walker represent the most recent splash of talent among Canada's Basketball prospects. But aside from Dort (22), they're all 23 or older, and have already established themselves in the NBA and with the Senior Men's National Team.
At 18, it's reasonable to think of Primo as a player who is ushering the next crop of Canada Basketball stars.
He's the first of that group to reach the NBA after forgoing his remaining eligibility following one season at Alabama, and there are plenty of Canadians coming through the college ranks to get excited about.
Players like Arizona sophomore guard Benedict Mathurin, Purdue sophomore center Zach Edey and Kentucky commit - and No. 1 player in the Class of 2022 - Shaedon Sharpe, will all make some noise at the NCAA level this upcoming season.
Including Primo, will any of them be ready enough to compete for Team Canada at the FIBA World Cup in 2023? It's more likely they'll have to wait their turn, but invites to training camp can always be seen as a sign of things to come.
One year later, when Canada Basketball looks to shape its roster for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, Primo will have three NBA seasons under his belt, and it's likely that Mathurin, Edey and Sharpe also have a season or two of professional experience as well.
If enough work is put in, don't be surprised to see this foursome receive some consideration for an opportunity to compete for the Senior Men's National Team.
Primo has already stated it's a goal of his, so let's see what the future holds for one of Canada's most promising young basketball prospects.
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