June 24, 2011

Clarke Makes U-19 Canadian National Team; Heads to Europe for FIBA World Championship

 Bronco basketball Freshman-redshirt Julian Clarke (JC) learned early this week that he made the Under-19 Canadian National Men's Basketball Team.  The team will travel to Latvia to compete in the 2011 FIBA World Championship.  Click here for more information on the FIBAs.
 

Below Clarke talked about how he got there, what he wants to do and how proud he is to wear the Canadian jersey.  Clarke is the second Bronco in the last four years to play on the team as senior Marc Trasolini has also played on the U-19 team and continues to be active with the Canadian National Team.  Trasolini started and played on U-19 Canadian Team that finished seventh at 2009 World U-19 Championships in New Zealand with an 82-74 win over France in . Trasolini battled back from a spring illness to average 7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, shooting 51.3 percent from the field during the tournament.

SCU: What team is this, what was involved in the tryout/selection process, and when did you find out that you definitely made the team?

JC: I am playing on the Under-19 Canadian Junior Men's National Basketball Team. Last year we played well enough in the FIBA Americas Tournament to win the Bronze medal and qualify for this year's FIBA World Championships in Riga and Liepaja, Latvia. The first tryout camp was held at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario June 10-12. From there, 13 athletes were brought into training camp beginning June 18, and the final roster was selected the morning of June 22 before we began our 3 week Euro trip.

SCU: Congratulations Julian! Must be very exciting for you personally and also as a Bronco! What's on tap first?

JC: We have three games in Panevezys, Lithuania, in the Global Games Exhibition Tournament.  We will play Latvia, Australia, and Brazil starting on Saturday. After that, we will head to the U19 World Championships held in Riga and Liepaja, two cities in Latvia. We are here to win basketball games and gain back the respect that basketball in Canada rightfully deserves!

SCU: How has Canada done in previous tournaments and how do you predict Canada fare this time?

JC: The highest Canada has ever finished in the U19 Championships is sixth; we finished seventh the last time around in New Zealand (the team Trasolini played on). However, we feel that we have great team chemistry and a very trustworthy and experienced group of coaches; and that we all mesh together. Combining those assets with the talent we have, we are looking to make a major push and surprise many of the teams that are in this tournament, starting with pool play against Korea, Lithuania and Croatia.

SCU: You were redshirted your freshman year at Santa Clara due to a foot injury, but you are now healthy and heading into your redshirt freshman season. How healthy is the foot and how will this tournament help you prepare for the upcoming season here at Santa Clara?

JC:  The foot is virtually 100% and I am raring to go! I think this tournament can really jump-start my freshman year.  Getting on the court and playing will definitely get me in the right mindset for a long season.  There is nothing like playing in front of the entire world. I am hoping that this gets me on the right track and that I continue to move forward to help the Broncos in our preseason tournament in Vancouver and throughout the year.

SCU: Do you know the players on your team and other countries in this tournament?

JC: We have Kevin Pangos who will be beginning his freshman year at Gonzaga this coming year. Phil Scrubb, a Canadian national championship winner and rookie of the year at Carleton University in Ottawa.  Negus Webster-Chan, a versatile guard who recently won the MVP in the Canadian version of the McDonald's All-American Game, the All Canada Classic.  Sim Bhullar, the 7'5" Xavier commit with a 7'9 wingspan who is looking to make a huge impact for us with his size and added touch over the past year. There are a host of other talented players from the USA (Austin Rivers, I think, is making the trip as he did last year), Brazil (7'2" Lucas "Bebe" Nogueira is long and talented) and other teams and we will definitely have to bring our A game each and every day.

SCU: How excited is your family as your Dad played on the Canadian National Team in his younger days as well?

JC:  Very. My younger brother Brody is in Mexico with the U-16 Canadian team and my parents and my sister Rachel are proud of us both. They are rooting for both of us back home and we are rooting for each other from different continents. It's a very special time for our family and I am very honored to wear Canada on my chest and have everyone back home cheering me on.

SCU: What kinds of advice have the National Team coaches, and the Santa Clara coaches, given you for the tournament?

JC:  The National Team coaches really want me to communicate more than ever, as I am a second-year Junior National Team player and understand all the systems and rotations. They have really stressed me having a leadership role on defense along with scoring. I have also spoken to both Coach Keating and Coach Kerns since my trip began and they have stressed the importance of rebounding, competing and providing toughness so that it can carry over into a good redshirt freshman year. I am looking forward to it.

SCU: What are your personal and team goals for this trip?

JC:  Team-wise, re-establishing Canada as a considerable world basketball contender would be great (big smile). We have a lot of work to do in order to achieve that but if we band together and play as a team, working harder than the rest, then we will surprise a lot of people. Personally, I want to enjoy this trip as much as possible both on and off the court because this is a great life opportunity. On the basketball court, I want to emerge more as a leader and head back to Santa Clara with renewed confidence and ready to help us win basketball games.

SCU: Is there anything else important or interesting we should know about this trip?

JC: Well right now in Lithuania, it is the summer solstice, and there will be only about 4-5 hours of darkness tonight. The people of Panevezys have had bonfires, music and parties all day and are continuing well into the night. As well, we are 10 hours ahead of Santa Clara, so while I am about to go to bed, most of you are just starting your afternoon activities. Hopefully we'll be able to adapt to the time change from Toronto (approximately 7 hours) and play a great first game on Saturday.

Thanks and Go Broncos!