Former University of New Mexico Lobo Cameron Bairstow on Sunday evening (Monday morning in Australia) was named to the final 12-man Australian national team to compete in next month’s FIBA world championships in Spain.
The 6-foot-9 Bairstow last week signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Bulls after being selected in the second round by the organization in last month’s NBA Draft.
The team was initially cut to 17 players two weeks ago while Bairstow was still in Las Vegas, Nev., participating in the NBA Summer League with the Bulls.
The FIBA Basketball World Cup begins Aug. 30 with the championship game being played Sept. 14. The Boomers travel to Europe on Aug. 5 for a nine-game pre-FIBA exhibition tour.
Bairstow isn’t the first former Lobo, or Chicago Bull for that matter, to play for the Aussie Boomers. Former UNM Lobo and Chicago Bull Luc Longley was a staple with the Boomers for years and is now an assistant coach on the team.
Longley told Lee Gaskin of the Sydney Morning Herald in an article published Saturday that Bairstow’s rise to his current level of prominence over the past year, when he average better than 20 points a game for the 27-win Lobos as a senior, was a bit of a surprise.
“This time last year, I thought he would struggle to get drafted,” Longley told the newspaper. “He would’ve said the same. He would’ve laughed and would’ve said, ‘I don’t think so.'”
As for his place among the best in Australian basketball today, however, Longley is a beleiver.
“He’s certainly assertive on the court,” Longley told the Sydney Morning Herald. “He’s put on a lot of strength and competes with an intensity and a ferocity that guys don’t like to compete against. My personal theory is he grew up a lot into his game in that period, took that back to college and dominated.”
Said Bairstow of following in Longley’s footsteps in Chicago, “There’s a bit of an Australian reputation there and it’s always good to have someone who paved the way. He was the first Aussie to have a big impact in the NBA.”
The final Boomers roster includes four current NBA players in Bairstow, Aron Baynes (San Antonio Spurs), Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Dante Exum (Utah Jazz).
To read the full Sydney Morning Herald article on Bairstow and Longley, CLICK HERE.