It is a dream come true for Jadon Cohee.
Cohee is set to suit up for Canada’s U19 national team at the FIBA world championships in Greece.
“I am honoured,” he said on Wednesday afternoon from Toronto, following a short practice.
“It truly is a blessing to be able to represent my country, to wear that Canadian uniform.
“It is something that I have dreamed about.”
Cohee, who is from Langley and starred at Walnut Grove, was one of 19 players who took part in the team’s training camp from June 6 to 10. From that list, a dozen players were chosen.
“He came in a lot more confident and he backed it up with his game,” said Canadian coach Roy Rana.
“He was very, very good from start to finish and earned his way onto the team.”
Cohee also tried out for the team last year but failed to make the final roster.
“You could have argued he could have made it last year, but there were a lot of guys at that position and we had to make some tough choices,” Rana said. “This year, he clearly separated himself.”
The team leaves for Europe on June 11 in preparation for the world championships, which begin June 27 in Heraklion, Greece.
Prior to that, the team will head to Spain for some exhibition games.
The six-foot-four guard who turns 19 later this month played this past season with the Seattle University Redhawks.
And Cohee said he learned a lot in his freshman year.
“When I got (to Seattle), I used to get killed every day; I just wasn’t good enough,” he said.
Up until that point, Cohee admitted he had primarily gotten by on his one-on-one skills and his superior athleticism compared to the competition.
But the Seattle coaching staff worked him hard every day and the improvement showed.
“I learned how to run the pick-and-roll, when to shoot, when not to shoot, how to make reads, how to defend,” Cohee said.
“I just got a lot better (and) as the season wore on, I started to get more minutes.”
That was another adjustment as it had been a long time since Cohee didn’t play a starring role on his team.
Growing up, he played up an age group at the club level and then in Grade 10 played on the senior squad for Walnut Grove where the Gators made provincials all three years, finishing second in 2012 and winning the title in 2013. He finished as the third all-time leading scorer at the B.C. provincial high school championships.
“(This) was the first time I was ever on a team where I wasn’t the go-to-guy,” Cohee said.
“But it’s basketball and you want to win, so you have to do what you have to do (to help the team).”
“It’s not like I didn’t get my shots, I just didn’t shoot in volume like I would (before),” he added.
Cohee started six, but primarily played the sixth man role for the Redhawks over the team’s 34 games.
He finished the season averaging 18.4 minutes per game while averaging 5.7 points and 1.6 rebounds.
But while it may have been an adjustment, Cohee said he figured out pretty early that he had the talent to play at the Division 1 level.
And it was this experience which helped him crack the Canadian roster.
“I knew coming in after a year of playing Division 1, that I had an advantage because I had been playing against great players all year,” Cohee said.
“Before I went (to the Canadian camp), I told my parents and my (Seattle) coach that I would make the team.”
“I think a year of college ball certainly helped him mature both physically and mentally,” Rana said, adding that Cohee brings versatility in his ability to play either guard position.
“He can shoot the ball, he is unselfish, good length defensively. He has bought in and is only going to make us better,” Rana said.
Canada is ranked third in the FIBA men’s age-group rankings and are in a group with Australia, Tunisia and Italy.
There are 16 countries competing at the championships, which run until July 5.
Following that Cohee will return home and then begin preparation for his sophomore season in Seattle.
He hopes to crack the starting rotation next season for the Redhawks as well as become one of the top players in the conference.