Toronto Raptors

The Harvey's Canadian Report: A busy summer for Canadian hoops

Harvey's

July and August are often touted as the "dog days of summer", but whoever came up with the expression wasn't a basketball fan.

The summer is when big trades shake things up, rookies try to make their mark and let's not forget the women hit the court too.

And this summer has been a big one for hoops diehards north of the border.

Boucher becomes a Raptor

In an extremely busy summer for Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster, among the moves they made was the signing of Montrealer Chris Boucher to a non-guaranteed contract. On the same day as the Boucher announcement, the Raptors also announced the signing of G League MVP Lorenzo Brown.

Boucher was signed to the Raptors' Summer League roster, and he didn't let the opportunity slip away. The 25-year-old power forward/centre averaged 20 minutes per game with just under 11 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in four games. And, he shot 50 percent from the field.

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The seven-foot Saint Lucia native, who got into one game with the NBA-champion Golden State Warriors last season, averaged 11.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game with Santa Cruz last year in the G-League.

Showtime for Shai in Vegas

Rewind to the start of July when the MGM Resorts Las Vegas Summer League tipped off. Eleven Canadians were expected to see court time; a handful made a significant splash.

This year's top Canadian draft pick, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, put on a show in Las Vegas. The No. 11 overall pick looked like the best point guard in Vegas, averaging 19 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block per game.

Here are some other highlights:

Xavier Rathan Mayes - The Markham, Ont., guard averaged 9.6 points over six games for the LA Lakers.

Olivier Hanlan - The 42nd overall pick in the 2015 Draft was quiet in his first two games, registering only three and two points respectively. But the Aylmer, Que., native exploded for 11 and 18 points to close out his Summer League showing.

Naz Mitrou Long - The Mississauga, Ont., guard averaged 8.8 points per game in five appearances for the Utah Jazz.

Brooks comes up big in Crown League:

Not only did the Summer League showcase Canadian talent, but a Toronto-based pro-am tournament did too.

For four years now, Nike's Crown League has been a platform for professionals and university players to showcase their talents, sharpen their skills and "claim royalty" over a five-week period.

The league is a who's-who of Canadian basketball talent, as it fields six teams consisting of NBA players, European professionals and stars from U SPORTS and the NCAA.

This year's finals pitted Brady Heslip and Dillon Brooks's 1Love T.O. team against the M.A.D.E., unit that featured former Ryerson All-Star and Raptors 905 guard Aaron Best.

Brooks was named the MVP of the game after scoring 19 points in 32 minutes. Another Crown League notable were Rathan-Mayes, fresh off his stint at summer league, who dropped 43 points for his CIA Bounce team in Week 4.

Canadian women breaking records:

There are only three Canadian women playing in the WNBA this season, but the impact of their play has been felt throughout the league.

Ontario natives Kia Nurse (New York Liberty) and Natalie Achonwa (Indiana Fever) have been putting on record-setting performances this summer.

On August 4, Achonwa recorded her sixth double-double of the season to set a new single-season record by a Canadian WNBA player. The 25-year-old topped the old record that had been held by Tammy Sutton-Brown, with five, since 2008.

She also became just the second Canadian to record three 20-plus point games in a single season, joining Stacey Dales (2002).

It wasn't long before Nurse joined that list after knocking down 20 points in her first career start on August 7 - her third 20-plus point game this season.

As a WNBA rookie, Nurse already has two of the top-five highest-scoring games by a Canadian in the league, and Achonwa has cracked that list this summer, too.

1. Kia Nurse - 34 points (2018)

2. Stacey Dales - 26 (2002)

3. Tammy Sutton-Brown - 26 (2008)

4. Natalie Achonwa - 26 (2018)

5. Kia Nurse - 25 points (2018)

Raptors players join Ujiri for Giants of Africa:

Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri hosted his third-ever NBA Africa game in South Africa. The game was aired live on NBA TV Canada and featuring Team Africa versus Team World.

Current Raptors Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka along with former Toronto fan favourite Bismack Biyombo suited up for Team Africa. Team World led the game from start to finish and won 96-92 for their third straight NBA Africa Game victory.

The game tipped off following the 16th annual Basketball Without Borders Africa event and was played in support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Ujiri's Giants of Africa charity is also staging youth basketball camps in seven countries during the month of August.

Breakdown and Warriors off to Jr. NBA World Championships:

Two Ontario teams clinched spots in the inaugural Jr. NBA World Championships that tipped off on August 7 in Orlando, Fla. The Welland Warriors and Brampton Breakdown claimed their berths earlier this summer by capturing the girls and boys' titles respectively at the Jr. NBA Canada qualifying tournament.

The Breakdown and Warriors will play teams from across the globe at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

To read about out how the two teams qualified click here.

DeMar DeRozan won't forget Toronto:

DeMar DeRozan once called himself Toronto. Many Canadian basketball fans would suggest he was selling himself short.

The NBA world was shaken up on July 18 when the news came out that DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl had been dealt to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. In Leonard, the Raptors get a former NBA Finals MVP, a two-time NBA defensive player of the year and two-time NBA All-Star.

To get Leonard, however, Canada's team was forced to give up its all-time leader in points scored, games played, and a catalyst in the Raptors' record 59-win regular season in 2017-18. For DeRozan, he is leaving a city and country which embraced a California kid who was drafted as a 19-year-old. . . . who become a man that felt exactly the same way about his adopted city and country.

Words could never express what you've meant to me. I was just a 19 year old kid from Compton when we first met, but you took me in and embraced me as one of your own. I am so grateful for the Love and Passion that you've given me over the past 9 years. All I ever wanted to do was duplicate it 10x over just to show my appreciation. Thank you Toronto, thank you Canada. #Comp10 #ProveEm

A post shared by DeMar DeRozan (@demar_derozan) on

DeRozan told ESPN's Chris Haynes shortly after the trade: "I was so mentally in this being my home. I took pride in the community. I took pride in everything when it came to Canada. Not even just Toronto, everything that came with Canada, wearing that Toronto Raptors jersey. That's why it was so tough and emotional for me when I first heard (the trade) because everybody knows what type of guy I am. It showed when I went out there and played."

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