TORONTO (FIBA U19 World Championship) - Just days after his name was included in Canada's preliminary squad for the FIBA U19 World Championship, superstar Andrew Wiggins decided to not play in Prague and instead prepare for the start of his college season.
"At 18 years old, Andrew has a long basketball career ahead of him. Andrew's decision to prepare himself this summer for the up-coming season is a decision we acknowledge," said Rowan Barrett, Canada Basketball's executive vice president and senior men's program assistant general manager.
"Our team will miss Andrew this summer, but we remained focused on Andrew's long-term development and our organizational goals for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and beyond."
Wiggins - the expected number one pick in the 2014 NBA Draft - decided in mid-May to attend Kansas University, ending months of speculation about where he would play his likely one season in collegiate hoops.
On June 5, Canada included Wiggins' name in their preliminary squad for the U19 World Championship but he has chosen Kansas over Canada.
Even without the 18-year-old, the Canadians remain a medal contender for the 27 June-7 July tournament in Prague, where the North Americans are drawn into Group A with Spain, Croatia and Korea.
Rana called Wiggins "easily the best athlete in the world at his age group".
But the coach still has an enormously talented trio in 17-year-old power forward Trey Lyles, Florida State shooting guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis,
"Trey Lyles is only beginning to become known on the international scene. But people will remember him quite fondly after this summer. He's a phenomenal talent at 6-foot-10 (2.08m)," said Rana.
"He's got a great skill set for a 6-10 kid. He's a very good athlete. He's quietly one of the best players in his age group at his position. We're going to see a lot from him."
Of Rathan-Mayes, the coach said: "He is a dynamic player with a great skill set. He can score in bunches but he can really pass. He's very talented at getting to the basket."
Rana also had high praise for Ennis: "He's definitely a very, very talented point guard. He's got a great basketball IQ. He's a deceptive athlete. He's got a major chance to have a big impact on the tournament as well."
While fans and observers alike are disappointed that Wiggins will not show up in Prague, they will be able to watch a very talented Canada team.