Above, Cornellians Jonathan Gray (Virgin Islands) and Braxston Bunce (Canada) are representing their countries and Cornell in a pair of FIBA international competitions this week. Below, some news and notes for Monday...
- Cornell incoming freshman, Braxston Bunce (Kelowna Secondary School) Kelowna, BC, Canada, 6-11, C is playing with the Canadian Junior Men's National Team in the FIBA Americas U18 Championships in Brazil. In the opening game on Saturday against Puerto Rico, Canada prevailed 77-51. Bunce started the game, played 15 minutes and recorded 2 points (1/2 FGs), 4 rebounds and 3 assists without a turnover. On Sunday, Canada cruised again with a 98-67 win over Colombia. Bunce played 12 minutes, did not attempt a FG, finished 1/2 at the free throw line for 1 point on the day, also blocked 1 shot and committed a turnover. Canada (2-0) faces Argentina (2-0) today at 4 pm local time. The game will be streamed live on the FIBA Americas website.
- The Province newspaper of Vancouver, Canada profiled Bunce as part of its series, Subway Head of the Class, a listing of the top athletes in British Columbia . The Province writes:
BRAXSTON BUNCE-BASKETBALL, SCHOOL: Kelowna, FRESHMAN'S FUTURE: Cornell
Talk to those closest to Braxston Bunce, and it doesn't take long to realize his greatest gift is the fact that he has never taken his many gifts for granted.
Sure, from a university basketball coach's perspective, it's impossible to look past the 6-foot-11, 245-pound frame without wanting to immediately take your place in line, and this past season, more than 20 NCAA Div. 1 programs let the Kelowna Owls' big man know just how they felt about his substantial basketball future.
Yet Bunce's decision to truly pursue the best of both worlds at an NCAA Div. 1 institution is what drew him to Ithaca, N.Y., and the Ivy League campus of Cornell University, where he will continue to improve his intriguing half-court skill set, in addition to studying towards a business degree.
The dedicated work ethic he showed during sessions in the Lower Mainland with Basketball B.C.'s Centre for Performance earned the praise of top high school coaches associated with the elite training group.
But others also speak to the work ethic Bunce showed in hitting the books as hard as the boards, maintaining a level of excellence in the classroom that allowed him to enter the Ivy League.
And when his future coaches with the Big Red heard about how his grades didn't come easy, but rather through commitment to study and time management, they knew they were getting the kind of player they could build around.
Those traits are now so ingrained, that Bunce never turns them off.
On June 8, after more than a week of tryouts in Toronto, Canada Basketball named him a member of the junior national team which, today, finds itself in Brazil at the FIBA Under-18 Tournament of the Americas where Canada is attempting to earn qualification to next year's Under-19 world championship.
And about taking his physical gifts for granted?
Bunce's Grade 10 year never got off the ground because it was book-ended by early-and late-season surgeries to his right knee - the first to correct an issue that was causing problems around his kneecap, the second to remove painful, lingering bone chips.
What did Bunce do over that period? Just about anything he could that didn't involve the knee, including adding a left-handed shot to his repertoire.
Braxston Bunce has always looked the part for stardom, but ask him and he'll tell you he's always been a character actor.
- In the FIBA Centrobasket Championship for Senior Men, Cornell's Jonathan Gray and the U.S. Virigin Islands open the tournament and face Mexico today in Puerto Rico at 6 p.m. local time. Mexico is led by the New Orleans Hornets' Gustavo Ayon. The NBA theme continues throughout the competition for Gray. On Tuesday, Gray and his USVI team get to match up with Jamaica which features three NBA players: Samardo Samuels, Jerome Jordan and Patrick Ewing Jr. On Wednesday, Gray and USVI face Costa Rica, then conclude the tournament on Friday against Al Horford's Dominican Republic team which also features Franciso Garcia of the Sacramento Kings. Watch the games live on FIBA Americas TV.
- Nets Daily writes of Jeff Foote (Cornell '10) and the Brooklyn Nets, "Other than [Julian] Wight, the only players we know will be on the [Nets'] Summer League Roster are Marshon Brooks, Jordan Williams and Jeff Foote. Dennis Horner had accepted an invitation but broke his foot like any Nets big man should."
- For the second consecutive summer, Foote is playing in the New York City Dyckman/Pro City Summer League hosted by CUNY Baruch College in Manhattan. Playing for Team Dyckman again, Foote commences play on Tuesday evening.
- Jason Hartford (Cornell '08) scored 36 points but his Yamhill Highflyers fell 132-127 to the Nippon (Japan) Tornadoes in the International Basketball League on Friday.
- Always and important date on the calendar, The Cornell Basketball Prospect Camp for elite high school players considering playing at Cornell is scheduled for June 23-24. Cornell coaches direct the camp while several veteran Big Red players serve as counselors. Cornell's incoming committed recruits may also attend.