Shy Day-Wilson is missing a few days of her Duke Blue Devils training camp this week.
But the 19-year-old from Toronto wasn’t going to pass up a chance to play for Canada, and in front of a hometown crowd for the first time in years.
Day-Wilson had 18 points and seven assists to lift Canada’s women’s under-23 basketball team to an 85-60 victory over the United States on Saturday, and into Sunday’s gold-medal game of the inaugural Globl Jam tournament.
“Man, it’s a good feeling,” she said. “It just feels really good to be back home playing in front of my fans and supporters … I hadn’t done that since like four years ago. I love every moment of it.”
Merissah Russell and Sarah Te-Biasu scored 13 points apiece, while Aaliyah Edwards finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, and Yvonne Ejim hauled down a game-high 13 boards for the Canadians, who led by as many as 30 points.
Canada will face France in Sunday’s final, after France outlasted Belgium 74-73 in the day’s first semi-final.
Canada’s men’s team clawed back from a 17-point deficit, but still came up on the short end of a 93-87 decision to the U.S. Emanuel Miller led the Canadians with 25 points, while 18-year-old Keyonte George, a consensus five-star recruit, topped the U.S. with a game-high 37 points. The Americans will play Brazil, who beat Italy 79-56 earlier in the day, in Sunday’s final.
Day-Wilson, who lost a year of high school basketball because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is coming off a spectacular rookie season with Duke, leading the Blue Devils in points, assists, field goals made, free throws made and attempted, and minutes played this past season, earning her the ACC Freshman of the Year.
She said while she’s missing Duke’s camp, she’s getting the same sort of development playing with Canada’s U-23 team.
“I’m a gym rat. I stay in the gym every single day. So I mean, I’m missing a lot, but I’m not really missing a lot, because I’m still in the gym getting my own work in,” she said.
Day-Wilson’s sizzling rookie season also caught the attention of Drake, who dubbed the five-foot-six point guard “Yellow Tape Shy.” The Toronto recording artist invited Day-Wilson to play one-on-one in the indoor court in his house. The video went viral.
“He’s a good guy,” Day-Wilson said.
Day-Wilson was impressive in her national team debut with Canada’s under-19 team at last summer’s World Cup in Hungary, averaging 18.1 points a game. She dreams of playing for Canada’s senior team, and with senior coach Victor Lapena sitting courtside on Saturday, her performance surely didn’t hurt her chances.
“Everyone sees it and I kind of see it too, I’m kind of ready for the next level,” she said. “So I’m going to just keep taking it step by step. And when that time comes, I’m going to be ready.”
The U.S. led 22-19 after one quarter, but the Canadians went up by eight with a 14-6 run midway through the second. Canada headed into the halftime break up 46-37 in front of a Mattamy Athletic Centre crowd that included swimming star Penny Oleksiak, Canada’s most decorated Olympian.
The Canadian women, who had defeated the U.S. 78-69 in preliminary-round action earlier in the week, continued to pull away in the third, and when Edwards drove to the hoop for a layup late in the quarter, it put the Canadians up by 19. Day-Wilson hit a three-pointer with 51 seconds left in the frame, sending Canada into the fourth quarter up 69-46.
The Canadian men, meanwhile, trailed the U.S. by 17 points in the second quarter, and were down 58-46 at halftime. But Miller’s layup late in the third capped Canada’s 18-6 run that tied the game. The U.S. led 68-66 to start the fourth quarter.
The Canadians were within a point late in the game, but George had two straight buckets and a steal to put the Americans ahead by five with 2:03 to play.
The Globl Jam tournament was created to bridge the gap between the under-19 and the senior programs, and saw four countries on each of the men’s and women’s sides compete.
Canada Basketball envisions the event blossoming into basketball’s version of the hugely popular world junior hockey championship.
“Wouldn’t that be great?” said Mike Bartlett, Canada Basketball’s CEO. “Long-range, it’d be great if it starts to mirror what the world juniors have become, but it took 20, 25 years for that thing to be what it is today.
“I’m hoping it doesn’t take as long for us but the feedback again, we’re getting from everybody we’re talking to is: ‘you’ve got something here.’”
The Canadian 3x3 championships, which drew a large crowd at nearby Yonge-Dundas square on Saturday, is being held as part of the Globl Jam festivities.