Q&A: Olynyk dishes out praise to CIS cagers ahead of Final 8

 

 
 
 
 
Kamloops native and Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk chats in Richmond on Wednesday, where he was helping promote this year’s CIS men’s basketball Final 8 championship at UBC.
 

Kamloops native and Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk chats in Richmond on Wednesday, where he was helping promote this year’s CIS men’s basketball Final 8 championship at UBC.

In lieu of a giant marketing budget, the University of B.C. Thunderbirds brought an actual super-sized human to a news conference Wednesday to publicize the CIS Final 8 men’s basketball tournament at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.

Seven-footer Kelly Olynyk, the Boston Celtics and Canadian national team centre, was introduced as the official ambassador for the March 17-20 national university championship, to be played at UBC for the first time in 44 years.

Olynyk didn’t play basketball in Canada beyond South Kamloops Secondary. UBC head coach and recruiter Kevin Hanson lost him to the NCAA (Gonzaga) after Kelly had a seven-inch growth spurt in Grade 11.

But Olynyk’s dad Ken, now the athletic director at Thompson Rivers University, coached the University of Toronto men’s team from 1989 to 2002, during which Kelly glimpsed the highly competitive level of CIS basketball.

Q. Why are you taking time to do this? The Celtics have games in Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia scheduled at the time of the CIS Final 8.

A. I want to do anything I can to promote the tournament, to get the word out and get people excited. It’s great basketball — a high level right in your backyard. I grew up watching the CIS. I never watched the NCAA. Like, zero. The CIS definitely has a special place in my heart.

Phil Scrubb (Vancouver College, Carleton) is the first CIS player to be on a (NBA) Summer League roster. What do you see as the growing potential of Canadian university basketball?

If you play well in the Summer League, you’re going to get a camp invite. After that, anything can happen. You’re going to see a lot more CIS players in the Summer League. The next step is to get drafted. The talent here is growing by the second.

You were at the NBA all-star weekend in Toronto a few days ago for treatment (Olynyk has a shoulder issue). What was it like?

I wanted to soak it all in, to participate in any way I could in terms of festivities and fan interaction. It was pretty special to see the world’s best talent assembled in the town where I was born.

You’re on your way to Los Angeles to have your shoulder examined. What’s the nature of the injury?

It’s a sprain (reports have suggested it’s a separated shoulder). I just want to have it doubly checked by a specialist. I want to get back to playing as soon as I can.

Canada hasn’t won an Olympic medal in basketball in 80 years or made an appearance in the Games since 2000. What chance do you have at the last-chance qualifying tournament in Manila in July?

It’s going to be tough to do, against Turkey, France. France (the world No. 5) is a great team. They have numerous NBA players. But so do we. We just need to go out there and make some noise.

mbeamish@postmedia.com

twitter.com/sixbeamers

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
Kamloops native and Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk chats in Richmond on Wednesday, where he was helping promote this year’s CIS men’s basketball Final 8 championship at UBC.
 

Kamloops native and Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk chats in Richmond on Wednesday, where he was helping promote this year’s CIS men’s basketball Final 8 championship at UBC.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. We are using Facebook commenting. Visit our FAQ page for more information.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your voice