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31 October 2014 | in Summer Universiade, Basketball

From FISU to NBA


 Brady Heslip in action vs Brazil at the 2013 Kazan Universiade

ONTARIO - They shot, they passed, they ran and they dribbled. But in the end of the 2013 FISU Summer Games, the Canadian men’s basketball team lost the final battle for the bronze medal against Serbia in Kazan, Russia.

But a couple of the red and white team’s players haven’t done much losing since then.

Just over a year later, they are sporting the jerseys of their new NBA (National Basketball Association) teams.

Brady Heslip and Dwight Powell made the jump from university student-athletes, to players in part of the highest paid, most respected basketball league in the world.

Heslip, who led the Canadian team in points in 2013 averaging close to 22 points per game, now resides on the Minnesota Timberwolves; a team far below the league’s average 3-point-percentage.

That’s where shooting-star Heslip comes in. A spot-up shooter from Ontario, Canada – he was known at his school, Baylor University, for launching the ball from deep beyond the arch.

“Every opportunity I get to play is a blessing,” said Heslip back in 2013, of the international experience he gained in Russia. “Especially when I can represent my country, it makes you proud.”

Now, after playing in the NBA’s prestigious summer league, Heslip sticks with his word and tells NBA.com reporters, “This is a great opportunity for me, number one to get better as a player and number two just move closer to my dream of playing in the NBA.”

Dwight Powell blocking a shot from a Russian opponent at the 2013 Kazan Universiade

As for Stanford graduate Powell, his dreams are becoming a star-spanned reality.

He spent the summer of 2013 averaging almost 12 rebounds per game for Canada. But the summer of 2014 was a completely different ball game for him.

He was picked up in the second round of the NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and later traded to the Boston Celtics, the 2008 league champions, with two other Canadian natives, Kelly Olynyk and Joel Anthony.

On October 8, 2014 Powell made his first on-court appearance as part of the green squad.

“Every game is a big game for [me],” he said in an interview in Russia after defeating Brazil in the semi-finals.

And of course, his feeling remain the same; stepping onto his first NBA court as a rookie was, probably, the beginning of the most important game of his life.

While both former FISU players move on from university sport, the experiences and lessons learned on the competition platform of FISU will always be a teaching tool to further themselves in the future.

Stay tuned this season to see more NBA updates of the former FISU athletes!


Kelcey Wright, FISU U-Media Reporter (CAN)