"It's grown over the years, but there have always been good players in Canada," said Wiggins, who is from Toronto. "We're finally getting our chance to get exposure and showcase our talent in America for college scouts, international scours and NBA scouts. It's a great opportunity because they didn't focus on Canadian players until a couple years ago."
Canada's Immigration Act in 1976 loosened immigration restrictions and began to welcome more people inside its borders and make popular cities more populated. The NBA added franchises in Vancouver and Toronto in 1995.
The effect that is now unmistakable was once indistinguishable.
"I remember when I played in the NBA going to Toronto or Vancouver and I'd turn on TSN - The Sports Network - and see hockey highlights and soccer highlights and curling highlights," said Iowa State Coach Fred Hoiberg, who played in the NBA from 1995-2005. "They'd come back from commercials show some hockey highlights again and after about 45 minutes you might see a basketball highlight."
After his playing career, Hoiberg worked in the front office for the Minnesota Timberwolves and saw things changing quickly in Canada. The sport was becoming much more popular among young players who were exposed to the NBA and the NCAA Tournament. AAU programs started traveling throughout the United States in the summer, while many players chose to join AAU teams in the U.S. or transfer to high schools in the U.S. to maximize their exposure.
"There are some unbelievably athletic players, and maybe they get that from playing soccer growing up. Maybe they get their toughness because they play hockey," Hoiberg said. "I think their youth programs have been great. Any time you can get it implemented like they have and do it the right way, you'll get some good players."
The senior national team finished 4-4 at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship, but could qualify for the world championship with an invitation as a wild card. The national developmental team, with Heslip and Ejim, was 9-0 in the 2013 Four Nations' International Invitational Tournament in China with a win against the U.S.
The junior team placed sixth in the 2013 FIBA under-19 World Championship, which was the best result for the team, while the cadet team won a bronze medal at the 2013 FIBA under-16 Americas Championship and qualified for next year's FIBA under-17 World Championship.
"One thing Steve told us all summer is a huge part of the international game is international experience," Heslip said. "It's a totally different game knowing when guys are going to flop and knowing how to draw fouls and learning how to do certain things and how to get away with little tricks. It's all something they taught us, but at the same time, you can't just get good at it right away. You have to have experience and I feel like this summer was a great experience for all of our teams for the future."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.