Top pick Bennett heralds rise of Canadian basketball

Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:58pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - Canada is famed as a hotbed of hockey, but basketball dominated headlines in the Great White North after Anthony Bennett became the first Canadian to be taken first overall in the NBA Draft.

With more Canadian talent on the way, Bennett's selection by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday could serve as a red-letter moment in a golden era for Canadian basketball.

Even Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, an avid hockey fan, took to Twitter, writing "Congrats to @AnthonyBennett for being the first Cdn ever drafted #1 overall in the NBA draft. Good luck in Cleveland, we're all behind you."

Bennett will have Canadian company on the Cavs, joining compatriot Tristan Thompson, who had held the distinction of being the highest-drafted player from Canada when he was taken fourth overall last year by Cleveland.

The team's newest forward, who entered the draft out of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, following his freshman year, left New York after the draft to meet reporters in Cleveland.

Bennett thought a moment when asked if there was anything special about his day of non-stop activities. "Yeah, the private jet that I flew in on this morning," he told Reuters with a chuckle in a telephone interview on Friday.

"It's not really something I do, but I can get used to it."

As for reaction from back home, the versatile forward said: "Just been getting a lot of love."   Continued...

Anthony Bennett from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) reacts after being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft in Brooklyn, New York, June 27, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar