University of Utah guard Tyler Kepkay has made the Canadian Olympic team. Whether he plays in China this summer is yet to be seen.
Kepkay been named to the 12-man Canadian team along with 10 professional players and one other collegian. He is slotted to play backup point guard behind Jermaine Anderson.
"I'm surprised," Kepkay told the National Post in Canada. "I'm a lot younger than everybody. I came in with no expectations, just to come in and have fun and work hard."
The 21-year-old Kepkay impressed coach Leo Rautins right from the start and beat out Ryan Bell, who had played previously for the national team.
"I think a lot of people have no idea who he is," Rautins said. "I think he has done a great job in this camp. He has really come in, and he's played well. He has established a real presence at the point guard position. The backup point guard is a critical role."
However, in order to play in the Beijing Olympics, the Canadians still have a tough road ahead. They must finish in the top three of a 12-team Olympic qualifying tournament later this month in Greece against teams such as Brazil, Greece, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia and Puerto Rico.
Then, even if the Canadian team does advance, there's a chance NBA star Steve Nash could decide to join the team, which would likely bump Kepkay off the squad.
Of the other 11 players on the team, 10 are professionals, including NBA players Samuel Dalembert of the Philadelphia 76ers and Joel Anthony of the Miami Heat. The other college player is Andy Rautins, a guard for Syracuse University, a son of the Canadian coach.
"I'm excited for him," said Utah coach Jim Boylen. "He's worked very hard at improving his point guard skills and that's what enabled him to make the team."
The Canadian team will play four exhibition games in six days, starting tonight against Lebanon at McMaster University in Hamilton. After the qualifying tournament July 14-20, the Canadians will play the U.S. Olympic team in Las Vegas July 25.The 6-foot Kepkay, a native of Vancouver, averaged 7.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists for the Utes in 2007-08, while starting 26 of 33 games. The year before he was a junior-college all-American for College of Eastern Utah.
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