Sports

Axton named to Canadian national team

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Marc Axton is having quite a summer vacation.

The Federal Way resident, who will be a senior at Eastern Washington University in the fall, will be spending it playing on the Canadian Senior National Basketball Team. Canadian basketball officials announced the 12-player roster Monday. Axton was originally one of 25 players invited to the preseason training camp for Canada.

“It doesn’t get any more prestigious than to be selected to a national team,” Eastern head coach Mike Burns said. “It’s a great opportunity and a great honor and speaks volumes about Ax as a player and person. The experience he gets competing internationally against players like (Houston Rockets center and China’s) Yao Ming in invaluable.”

Axton, who graduated from Tacoma’s Foss High School in 2001, gained Canadian citizenship because his mother is from Canada. Axton’s father, Mike, is a paster at Federal Way’s Brooklake Community Church.

Team Canada departed for The Four Nations Tournament in China Monday. The event, hosted by China’s Olympic Men’s National Team, will also feature Team Brazil and Croatia. Canada will play a total of six games in the Chinese cities of Bejing and Urumuqui. Team Canada won’t be playing at the Summer Olympic Games in Athens next month. The team lost its final two games at last year’s FIBA Americas Olympic Qualification Tournament, failing to grab one of the three qualifying positions.

“Our focus for this training camp was to bring together some of the top young talent that we have in this country and work on developing skills in these players that will help them at both the international and professional level”, said Team Canada coach Jay Triano, also an assistant with the Toronto Raptors.

Axton, a 6-foot-7 forward, was the second-leading scorer during the 2003-04 season at Eastern. As a junior, he averaged 12.9 points, five rebounds and three assists a game and started all 30 of the Eagles’ games. His 111 career 3-pointers already ranks third in school history, and his 293 attempts are fourth.

Axton was a first team All-Big Sky Conference selection in both his sophomore and junior seasons and the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2001-02. Eastern finished last season with a 17-13 record and won the Big Sky Conference title. The Eagles lost to Oklahoma State 75-56 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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