Monday, February 23rd, 2009 at 11:00 am  |  59 responses

Moderately Talented (and British)? England Wants You!

by Marcel Mutoni

Great Britain is the host of the 2012 Olympics, and as part of their perfectly reasonable effort not to be humiliated in front of the whole world, they’ve mounted an aggressive campaign to find the best athletes to represent them.

The Brits are having a hard time fielding the hoops team. And they want your help. Provided, of course, that you can play a little and have some kind of linkage to England.

From the Boston Globe:

The British are conducting a worldwide search, primarily in the United States, in hopes of improving their national basketball team. Bulls forward Luol Deng and guard Ben Gordon, former NBA player Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Blazers draft pick Joel Freeland, and possibly Golden State guard Kelenna Azubuike will be on the United Kingdom’s national team that hopes to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. The British also have several American college players.

But in hopes of finding more talent, British Basketball is on the lookout for NBA personnel and other talented players born after Jan. 1, 1983, who have at least one parent with a British passport, thus making them eligible for the senior and under-20 teams.

“There are kids in America right now with parents with British passports that can play for our national team or under-20 teams,” said Ron Wuotila, British Basketball’s performance manager and head of basketball operations. “They might not be able to play for USA, but they can play for us.”

Team USA rejects, this is your chance to shine. Hope you like tea and biscuits.

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  • Dennis Wise

    anybody want to learn some boxing?

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBQEmmgDl9I Boing Dynasty

    anyobdy want to learn some fly-fishing?

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ BETCATS

    Barack Obama could play!!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Look at the French-Canadian dude making jokes about stereotypical British food! I trust Mutoni wrote this over a heaping plate of caribou, frog legs and surrender.

  • Andy

    Jones for the win!

  • http://www.fishmcgill.com Fish McGill

    What about that guy who criss-crossed Devin Harris?

  • Andy

    Also, Marcel…you know Great Britain isn’t JUST England, right?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Yeah, I’m pretty proud of that one.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Andy, those f*ckers love to have it both ways on the Great Britain/England thing. GB technically has FOUR teams (I think?) eligible for the World Cup and Euros, but when it comes to the Olympic sports (where they’re not all that good, generally) they team up so they’ve got a bigger talent pool, which leads to unfortunate sights like English and Scottish people having to pretend not to hate each other. Shady, man.

  • Andy

    Tell me about it, Ryan. I’m Scottish, so I have to stop myself from vomiting, every time I hear Andy Murray referred to as “British”.

  • http://allanzuss@yahoo.com Mendel

    Hold on Britain my dads applying for a passport right now. In the mean time I’m working on my halfcourt shot.

  • http://sfjdkldf.com Jukai


  • http://sfjdkldf.com Jukai

    If the dude is still alive, that is.

  • http://www.twitter.com/SeanEMitchell Homie

    Wait a second, Ron Wuotila is the head of basketball operations for GB? The same Ron Wuotila who coached at Mount Royal College in Calgary? Um, ok.

  • Diogo

    @Andy, Murray said it best when he stated “when I was losing, I was Scottish; now, suddenly, I’m British.”

  • http://www.slamonline.com Justin Walsh

    im adopted….i could just act like my real parents were brits…. *innocent face*

  • Keith

    Ryan: The World Cup and Euros are only comprised of one team at the moment really – England. We English would love to have a British football team in the Olympics but the other 3 nations are too busy crying about how they’ll lose their identity.

  • Keith

    Also, this whole story is an embarrassment for many reasons, not least because it means shunning the very players who make up our leagues.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Fair points, Keith. Although, having seen your top league, there’s a reason those players are being shunned. We can agree Luol would average a 40-point triple double in the BBL?

  • http://theghostofroyhobbs.blogspot.com Mo Charlo

    Anybody have Nick Fingleton’s cell phone?

  • Keith

    No we can’t agree. He’d average 60.
    There’s a big difference between Luol Deng being asked to play for us and sending out a hopeful message to anyone wants to check their family tree to see if they might have a tiny bit of British in them.

    If that’s the case, I’ll put my tiny bit of british in Sue Bird’s woo-woo just to get her playing for Team GB.

  • Keith

    DISCLAIMER: Sue Bird ain’t all that hot but it was either her or Mike Miller.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Mo: It’s Neil. And they don’t want it.
    Keith: Sue is cuter in person. I still have a crush on that girl.

  • Keith

    Ryan: She doesn’t read SLAM so you don’t have to pretend.

  • Sean

    Pat Burke plays for Ireland fool…..Bit of a difference…

  • Phil B

    I can’t imagine that you could even put me in the same sentence as the word “talented”, but I’ve played on a rec team before and I used to live in England. Heck, I even played basketball yesterday and hit a whole bunch of threes. I’ll convert to being British to play ball on their national team. Look me up Britain!!

  • http://theghostofroyhobbs.blogspot.com Mo Charlo

    Ryan, thanks, I was torn between Neil/Nick. And you’re right, nobody wants that phone number.

  • Milan

    “the United Kingdom’s national team that hopes to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.” Aren’t they qualified directly as the hosts anyway?

  • Erik

    JOHN AMAECHI !!! If he still got some game in him, i think he would be a perfect fit. At 6’10 270 , an quick feet, i think he would def give international competition some problems.

    At 38 he might be a lil old , but is there any other better British centers with his skill an experience?

  • http://www.myspace.com/everybodylovesmush Mush

    Yes Erik, there are many people better than Amaechi.

    Are any of you gonna keep coverage of GB in Eurobasket 2009 in Poland?

  • http://slamonline.com/online/nba/2009/02/moderately-talented-and-british-england-want-you/# Jax Lord

    Oh my god, the writer obviously has no brain. Point number 1 the current Gb team are mainly 30+ basketball has only became known in the 90′s + in Gb. So unfortunately we have to get dual nationality players. Point 2 french are all gays and Canadians just eat bacon all day. Point 3 you have not been to Gb to see the standard of youth basketball. Point 4 Its America s most popular sport ours is football (grimmons) so well kick your ass at that. Lastly Gb is better than the french and Canada so you kinda fail with this argument. Lol.

  • luke

    Lol there is no way on god’s green earth that John Amaechi would still pose some problems for teams like the US and Argentina/Spain etc.Being English,and having moved to Florida a year and a half ago,I hope to be playing for GB by the time 2016 rolls around! @Keith…….why was it between Sue Bird and MIKE MILLER?!Seeing as most Americans think i’m actually Australian over here,how about trying to pass off Lauren Jackson as British??She’d pose more of a problem down low than Mr Amaechi!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Milan: You are correct.
    Erik: You are crazy. John’s days at or near (even remotely) the top of international basketball are long behind him.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBQEmmgDl9I Boing Dynasty

    Besides the fact that hes a retard, i love the fact that Jax’s link is to the exact page that hes commenting on.

  • https://twitter.com/Neuronautuk mat smith

    look out for some of the biters from camden, and some mancunian kids, it wont be so bad.

  • Harlem_World

    I still live between the states and england, so am pretty up on this. There are more than enough legitimate GB players to rule out any YMCA level players from this ‘search’. They have a pool of players of NCAA1 and NBA level experience to choose from – but lack guards mostly. They going after Ben Gordon hard as his pops still live in London, I think. Gordon was born in London, so I’m told. Also, I’ve witnessed first hand the pro league in England…now if you’re a ymca guy and you wanted to play pro over there, then you might have a case…

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    all yall Angelo Saxons are the same to me

  • Danny W

    Meech likes watching the game these days, and even a little TV work. He neber loved the game they way most NBA ballers do, so he has no reason or motivation to get suited up just yet. I agree he would struggle against most other centres, however I think if he walked onto the team today, he’d still be the best British big man. By far. We need Steve Bucknall back.

  • Harlem_World

    Jax, England is better than France at basketball? What? Damn, who was that who just rushed out the door? Oh, ok, it was just your credibility.

  • http://www.basketball247.co.uk Tanman

    Stop hating!!

    Greg Tanner
    (Brother of the guy who played Devin Harris in that one-on-one)

  • AMac

    Dear God…I almost cried reading this. I’m English and I love basketball. I’m also proud of my country-however, I’d gladly have Team GB in all sports-it’s just that Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland cry to buggery about losing their “Sense of identity”. We’ve got enough as it is from college kids coming through to current pros to qualify for the Olympics-let’s not get China syndrome and think we’re going for a medal now? Yes, Ron Wuotila is the head of basketball operations for GB. Our head coach also coaches Iowa Energy in the D-League-but this is what you get when your governing body goes bankrupt and they have to form a new one at short notice with no funds…sub-standard higher-ups. Please…no more begging for whatever And1 f*cktard’s dad might’ve been from England-no more delusions of grandeur-just play hard, and see what happens with what we got already.

  • ballllin*

    we have no chance

    tanner can’t play because he has a heart condition

  • http://www.basketball247.co.uk Tanman

    lol – Stu ain’t got a heart condition. He’s nowhere near good enough to play for the national team anyway!

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqkMfToY9Pk&eurl=http://www.infowars.com/keyes-stop-obama-or-us-will-cease-to-exist/ Tarzan Cooper


  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Tarzan’s so subtle.

  • ballllin*

    lol..well i read a very false article

  • CP34MVP

    Yeah, Like BETCATS said. lets get Obama to play

  • sam chadwick

    hi im from england and weve actually got a couple of good youth programmes over here, you did a story on everyton a few ish back i think you should try the solent kestrels or ill write it and send it in, we were started by jimmie guymon ex nba but left after an injury hes been coaching here for like 25 years im serious and he coached joel freeland into the nba and he only started playing basketball at 17 and by the age of 19 he was drafted, england should be fine when the olympics come around

    peace out

    Sam chadwick

  • sab

    Harlem_world – Team GB have qualified for EuroBasket, France haven’t. Just sayin’…
    I’m planning to go to EuroBasket to watch Team GB, if y’all need a liveblog for the Spain-GB game, just let me know yeah……..!!

  • Jack

    As far as GB having to qualify, it is true. Even though they are hosts, they had to qualify into a certain bracket. I don’t know specifics but they had to become an A bracket team (I do remember reading what it meant but I forgot and it’s not too important). But basically, if they do that, they’ll play in the Olympics, and if they don’t, they’ll be regarded as not good enough to be a serious competitor and will not play. It might already be sorted, I’m not sure.

  • sab

    as it stands, because we qualified for EuroBasket, we’re seen as “good enough” for now… if we’re rubbish at EuroBasket AND don’t qualify for the next one in 2011, i think FIBA might get a bit irritated by us…

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Andy Posted: Feb.23 at 11:12 am
    Also, Marcel…you know Great Britain isn’t JUST England, right?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jack

    Well seeing as I’m Australian, that probably means I can in some way play. I’d only go to watch LeBron, Kobe and Melo absolutely kill us when we played them haha!

  • Harlem_World

    Sab, I don’t know all the eurobaskets stuff, but i do know Tony Parker is french and so is Boris Diaw and Ronny Turiaf and Pietrus from Golden State and that new kid up in Portland. THeres at least 5 current nba players, one a definite all star and finals MVP who would run england/gb whatever, into the ground. No disrespect to Deng and Mensah Bonsu (who is killin in the D-league right now), but 2 players are not enough to run with a french team with everyone available. I’m just sayin…

  • Sean

    How retarded do you have to be to think that Ireland is part of Great Britain?
    Don’t they teach you history in your country?

    Anyway, I wouldn’t write Team GB off like this. They played well in the European qualifiers. They have some good young players and if everything goes to plan will have a few NBA veterans. They won’t compete with the likes of Spain, China, Argentina and USA but I wouldn’t be suprised to see them win at least one or two games.

  • Airnest


  • sab

    Harlem_World – check Sean’s post – we’re not too bad, play good team ball. France have never got that team together that you mentioned, and fact is, we qualified to that tournament on merit and France didn’t (or haven’t, yet). so i think it’s fair to say we’re the better team at the moment…

  • Sean

    I see what your getting at…I like alot of players on Team GB….But I dunno if you guys would beat France. 4 of their starting 5 will be NBA players by the time the Olympics come around, they might not of got together yet but theres time stil…and they’ll have other NBA or former NBA players aswell….
    I’m a Bulls fan, I love Luol. I don’t think he fits with the Bulls at the moment, hes better than his stats this year show tho…but lets be realistic here, you can’t compare his overall contribution to that of Tony Parker.

  • vinyljunkie

    How embarrassing for British basketball. The idea is good as attracting young people away from the glamour of football but it is pitch in such a poor way.

    If you want to follow British basketball more closely go to: