NBA: Toronto Raptors chose swingman Terence Ross as they exercised their #8 pick in the NBA Draft. Although a bit of a surprise (fans expected Raptors to choose Austin Rivers, the son of Boston coach Doc Rivers), coach Dwane Casey said, “of all the guys who were still available on the board, he is a kid who can get his shot off in an NBA game today”. He stated that Ross is a better shooter at this time than Rivers. By the time their chance to choose came, their three top prospects, Harrison Barnes (N.Carolina), Damien Lillard (Weber State) and Dion Waiters (Syracuse) were gone. Ross was the next man on their list and they made the choice. Ross shot 46% from the field, averaged 16 ppg last year as a sophomore (2nd year) for the University of Washington, is a good defender and has good speed. Casey said the team needed a shooter and that’s something Ross can do. Raptors also added Quincy Acy, a 6’9” power forward (#37-2nd round) from Baylor, James Johnson was traded to Sacramento for a future draft pick to make cap room. Point Guard Kyle Lowry was acquired from Houston for Gary Forbes and a future 1st round draft pick. Landry Fields was signed to a 3-year contract after the New York Knicks failed to match Toronto’s offer sheet.
Oakland: Mississauga’s Andrew Nicholson sat anxiously with his family and friends waiting to hear his name called in the NBA Draft. They wee in a private room at the Real Sports Bar & Grill in downtown Toronto accompanied by about 120 family and friends. When the moment came Nicholson jumped out of his chair, pumping his fist in the air and letting go a loud victory yell as the room erupted with cheers and congratulations. Nicholson who was a star at St. Bonaventure, was chosen #18 in the first round by the Orlando Magic. He says he is looking forward to playing with the Magic and hopes to learn from star Centre Dwight Howard although rumors of a Howard trade still persist. “The Magic is a good team. I feel great”, he said. He has now signed his contract.
Tough To Beat: Defending Olympic Champs US named their final roster. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbook, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin (who may not be able to play due to a recent injury), Andre Iguodala and James Harden. Injuries to Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh delayed the final selection and opened up spots that were filled by Griffin, Iguodala and Harden.
Track & Field: In a spectacular upset at the Canadian Olympic Trials the 100m hurdles was won by Jessica Zelinka (who also won the heptathlon). Perdita Felicien was DQ’d and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep ran 5th. Felicien and Lopes-Schielp had been considered Canada’s best hopes for a medal in the London Olympics. Both saw their dream die. As did veteran hurdler Angela White who finished 4th. The good news concerns Markham’s Phylicia George and Pickering’s Nikkita Holder. George was 2nd and Holder moved to 3rd because of Felicien’s DQ. Both George and Holder are rising stars on Canada’s sports landscape. Zelinka’s winning time of 12.68 will have to vastly improve for her to medal in London though. She had considered forfeiting her Olympic berth in the hurdles to concentrate on the heptathlon (she broke her own Canadian record at the trials) and hopes to be a medal contender. Had she forfeited Angela Whyte would have moved up to 3rd and that would have punched her ticket to the games.
Smokin’ Hot: Nine year-old Brianna Gayle of Scarborough flew by all comers in the Toronto Star’s 100m Fastest Girl competition at the Toronto International Track & Field Games. Her time of 13.94 was .28 seconds faster than 2nd place Sydney Glayford of Milton, Ontario. Gayle said she has run faster (13.87) and hopes to eventually represent Canada in the Olympics.
Nikkita Holder and finance Justin Warner celebrated together after both won their events at the meet. Holder who was 3rd at the Cdn. Olympic Trials in Calgary confirmed her spot on Canada’s team by defeating Perdita Felicien and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep again and also team mate Phylicia George in a time of 12.83 for the 100m hurdles. Both Holder and Warner will compete for Canada in London.
Soccer: Ashtone Morgan has signed a long-term deal with TFC. Morgan who has been sparking the team with electrifying runs and pinpoint crosses is a grad of TFC Academy.
Horse Racing: Patrick Husbands, 39 year-old native of Bridgetown, Barbados rode Dixie Strike to victory in the $500,000. Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie July 15th. For Husbands, who has been Canada’s top jockey seven times, the win was bittersweet because it will probably be the last time he will cross the finish line as the Prince of Wales Champion. Fort Erie has hosted the race – the 2nd leg in Canada’s Triple Crown – since 1929 but the 115 year-old track is scheduled to close December 31st. Premier Dalton McGinty announced the elimination of the revenue-sharing agreement with racetracks that gives them a cut of the slot profits. Shortly afterwards the OLG (Ontario Lottery & Gaming) announced it was closing slot machines at Fort Erie, Windsor and Sarnia tracks. Without the revenue-sharing program, Fort Erie Racetrack’s Board announced it had to close December 31st. Jockey Husbands who rode Canada’s last Triple Crown winner and twice rode the winner of the 2nd jewel in the crown said the recent win “is another big stepping stone for me as a rider”. He said he “crossed the finish line with a heavy heart because barring a miracle, the track will be closing”. “I just love it here”, he added. Husbands resides in Brampton and says he watches Fort Erie racing on TV on his off days and always tells people Fort Erie “is the best dirt track” he’s ever ridden on.