North Pole Heating Up
The top Canadian juniors and seniors.
With the abundance of Canadian talent showcased over recent years to the U.S. and the rest of the world, it is evident that Canadian basketball has stepped up in a big way. With several players cracking the top rankings and holding it down on the prep scene, look only for an increase in major talent from the North. While you may have heard or seen some of the players on this list playing prep ball in the U.S., here’s an exclusive look at the hidden gems scattered across Canada.
***Prospects currently playing prep in Canada are reclassified (I.e. 2010 player is classified as 2011).***
Class of 2010
Tristan Thompson | 6-10 | PF | Grassroots Canada Elite/Findlay Prep. (NV via Brampton, ON)
You should already be familiar with this Canadian. The Texas commit is a continuous work in progress, which is what makes him so valuable. Thompson’s potential is out the roof and will have one more year at Findlay prep to develop his game. After a busy summer juggling camps, national team games and AAU basketball, Tristan will get back to the drawing board to put on weight, improve his dribbling ability and polish up his post moves before suiting up for the Longhorns.
Cory Joseph | 6-3 | Point Guard | Grassroots Canada Elite/Findlay Prep. (NV via Ajax, ON)
Partner in crime to Thompson, Cory Joseph is the floor general for Findlay. With the departure of Avery Bradley to Texas, look for Joseph to carry more of a load for his squad. His summer hasn’t been a walk in the park either; Cory has been busy patenting his name at several prestigious events including the adidas Nations tourney and international games for Canada overseas. Already a top prospect in North America, CJ will need to continue the transition into a true PG to reach his plateau (If he has one).
Emerson Murray | 6-3 | PG | Drive Basketball/St. George (Vancouver, BC)
The Canadian clone of John Wall. Now that we have your attention, this might be a slight exaggeration; however Murray possesses similar tools to resemble the top point guard of the ’09 class. Emerson can get up with the best of them, his speed and quickness are clearly above average and his leadership skills are second to none. He’s also a solid passer but will need to perk up this area of his game to draw a better resemblance to Mr. Wall. Emerson Murray is arguably the top PG that the Class of 2010 has to offer from North of the border.
Marvin Binney | 6-1 | PG | Progressive Christian Academy (MD via Toronto, ON)
Fresh off leading Canada’s top team to a provincial championship, Binney will now set foot on American soil for a year of prep basketball. Binney is among the top point guards in his class and will look to take his game to another level while at PCA. Binney is a very quick guard with great handle to blow by defenders and finish strong at the cup. Defensively, Marvin gets at it with his long arms and high intensity.
Ashton Khan | 6-1 | PG | Team Takeover/Brewster Academy (NH via Scarborough, ON)
A lightning-quick guard with the ability to create for his teammates consistently. Khan is very dangerous with the rock in his hands. He can take it straight to the cup or dish it off to an open teammate. Your best bet would be to back off him and tempt him to shoot. Ashton is still progressing with his shooting ability. He currently is able to knock down the short jumper but will need to develop consistency as well as add some range.
Maurice Walker | 6-10 | C | Team Takeover/Brewster Academy (NH via Scarborough, ON)
Accompanying Ashton Khan this September at Brewster Academy is Maurice Walker A.K.A “BIG MO.” Walker could be considered a traditional center in that he uses the hook shot quite effectively and positions himself in the paint successfully to erase any athletic advantage over his opposition. He has boosted his stock tremendously over the AAU summer festivities, and will continue to rise in his first and last year at Brewster. He will look to add some more post moves to his game and work on his conditioning to begin running with the “big boys” of America.
Matthew Wright | 6-3 PG/SG | Scadding Court/Martingrove (Toronto, ON)
A smooth guard with great fundamental skills and a high basketball IQ. Wright has an arsenal of offensive moves including a great pull up jumper; he really takes what the defence gives him, making him a very poised player. He’s often compared to Anthony Parker with the way he carries himself on the court. Although methodical in his play, Wright will need to add more speed to further develop his already polished skill set.
Shayok Shayok | 6-6 | SG/SF | Ottawa Guardsmen/St. Patrick’s (Ottawa, ON)
It is not a typo; you’ll have to say it twice. Shayok-squared is also among the top seniors in Canada. Coaches and recruits may not know much about this hidden gem, but they will soon enough. His game is maturing by the day as he is being assimilated into a guard, and possibly a point guard according to the St. Pat’s staff. If this goal is successfully attained, Shayok will be causing some excitement for many division one programs. If not, he’ll still be one heck of a wing with the ability to score, pass, rebound and defend.
Dwight Powell | 6-9 | PF | Grassroots Canada Elite/IMG Basketball Academy (FL via Toronto, ON)
If you’ve been regularly visiting Slamonline, you would know that Dwight Powell is one of the top prospects in America. Although he will need to bulk up this upcoming season, Powell has all the tools needed and is a legit D-1 prospect. His length and versatility at the forward spot allows him to take advantage of most bigs that attempt to defend him.
Braedon Anderson | 6-8 | SF/PF | Calgary Elite/Foothills Composite (Okotoks, AB)
An aggressive athlete that looks to play above the rim every chance he gets. Anderson has a good body at roughly 230 pounds and a developing perimeter game. He has a soft shooting touch but will need to further develop his face-up jump shot. A consistent part of his game is in the rebounding department as he has the physical ability and desire to gobble up every loose ball.
Laurent Rivard | 6-5 | SF | Expressions Elite/Northfield-Mt. Hermon (MA via Saint-Bruno, QC)
Originally from Saint-Bruno, Quebec, Rivard has made significant strides in his overall game at Northfield. With his combination of solid athletic ability and strength, he is able to hold his own at the forward spot. Rivard carries heavy artillery with his sniper; he has the ability to knock down NBA range threes with ease. His biggest weapon however is his understanding of the game. You will always find Laurent making the right plays whether it is scoring or creating for his teammates. Overall, a great asset to any team.
Kadeem Green | 6-8 | PF | Team Takeover/United Faith Christian Academy (NC via Toronto, ON)
An athlete in every sense of the word. This highly recruited stud is on ESPNU’s 150 watch list and is yet to scratch the surface on his potential. Kadeem can run the floor with the best of them and is sure to finish above the rim every time. His springs help him on both ends of the floor with inside scoring as well as rebounding. However, he can sometimes depend too much on his leaping ability; he will need to add some more post moves and increase consistency in his shot. With a year left in his high school career, don’t be surprised if he ends up in the top 50 in the Class of 2010.
James Johnson | 6-9 | PF | Calgary Elite-California Supreme/Samuel Morse HS (CA via Lethbridge, AB)
This high major recruit is actually a San Diego native that spent nine years in Canada before moving back to end his high school career in the sunshine state. Johnson was ineligible for his junior year due to transfer rules and as a result, is a late bloomer. JJ’s stock rose significantly this spring as he has impressed at several camps including the Pango’s All-American. He is everything that a college coach looks for in a post presence. Athleticism, strength, post game, rebounding; he’s got it all.
Melvin Ejim | 6-6 | SG/SF | Team Takeover/Brewster Academy (NH via Brampton, ON)
An athletic winger, Ejim is able to defend multiple positions, run the floor efficiently and finish strong. What impresses me most about Ejim is his combination of body control and strength to take hits and finish plays. He is a poised, young talent with high potential to make an immediate impact for the college of his choice. With the additions of Maurice Walker and Ashton Khan (and Oklahoma commit Richard Peters — transfer from Sagemont), this Canadian quadruple threat will look to make Brewster Academy extremely tough to match up against this September.
Jordan Clennon | 6-2 | PG | Team Takeover/St. Edmund Campion (Brampton, ON)
A slithery guard that gets into the gaps of the defence at will to either hit his very efficient floater or spoon feed his post players. Clennon is a very good playmaker but can also get his when he wants to. A tough task for opposing guards as he can break down his opponents and create his own offense with his shifty ball handling and great shooting stroke. On the defensive end, when Clennon is aggressive, he can be a pest, using his long arms to pick pocket his opposition. His confidence is growing in unison with his leadership and it will be interesting to see his progress by June.
Elijah Mara | 6-4 | PG | One Pass Ahead/White Rock Christian Academy (White Rock, BC)
Here is an overlooked point guard who has proven his dominance in British Columbia. Undoubtedly a top point guard in the province, and arguably a top-10 prospect in the country. Mara takes after his role model Derrick Rose, with great athletic ability at the point, complimented with crafty play making and strength. On the defensive end, Mara has a knack for getting into the passing lanes and finishing with authority. He tends to freeze opponents with his signature cross-over and pull up jumper but could still add speed to take his game to another level. Currently looks like a mid-major talent but that could change by the spring of ‘09.
Shamar Bennett | 6-4 | PG/SG | Grassroots Canada Elite/Eastern Commerce (Toronto, ON)
With the departure of the big three: Alwayne Bigby, (Northeastern) Marvin Binney, (Progressive Christian academy) and Jerome Brown; (Panola) Shamar will get a significant increase in minutes and be able to showcase his true abilities. Bennett showed glimpses of his skill set last season for the power house Eastern Commerce Saints as he was the leading scorer in the AAAA provincial championships.
Yann Charles | 6-5 | SF | Champlain-St. Lambert (Longueuil, QC)
Charles has a strong body and can finish with contact, but will need to take it to the hole much more often instead of settling for jump shots. He has solid speed and athleticism which helps him slow down quick guards. He is able to hit the mid-range shot and extend to the three-point line but will need to improve his dribbling ability significantly in order to create his own shot. Yann is currently receiving interest from a couple of schools including Notre Dame, but will look to attract more programs this season.
Theon Reefer | 6-6 | SF | Grassroots Canada Elite/Father Henry Carr (Toronto, ON)
An explosive athlete that has shown great progress over the past year. Reefer went from exclusively running the floor and banging inside to adding another crucial facet to his game. Reefer now has the ability to handle the rock on the wing, making him a bigger threat against taller forwards, but there is still room for improvement in his dribbling. The passion he displays on every possession is quite refreshing and is a very attractive aspect of his repertoire. From the looks of it, Reefer still has an inch or two in him which would catapult his game yet again. Regardless, Theon is undoubtedly a top prospect in Canada.
Kevin Thomas | 6-8 | SF/PF | Grassroots Canada Elite/ Pickering High (Ajax, ON)
Many underestimate Kevin at first glance due to his wiry frame but when the whistle is blown it works to his advantage. But he will definitely need to put on weight before he enters his college career. His long arms and decent leaping ability allow him to snatch rebounds out of the air before opposing players get a chance to leave their feet. He has also shown great footwork in the post and a multitude of moves. His perimeter game is evolving as well with his ability to stick the mid-range shot and occasionally step behind the arc. As he puts on weight and continues to improve his perimeter game, KT could turn into a deadly inside-outside presence.
Colby Maier | 6-4 | SG/SF | Kelowna Kings/Kelowna Christian (Kelowna, BC)
Colby will need to speed up his entire game to be a part of the upper echelon. He has excellent fundamentals and footwork that allow him to get away with this slow motion type of basketball but that will not cut it at the collegiate level. He has the potential to improve in this area as you can tell by his athleticism. He really excels in the transition game as he runs the floor very well and gets open for alley oops and easy buckets. His handles could also use some work; he has shown the ability to beat opponents off the dribble but again the speed factor is what will elevate his game to new heights. Overall, Colby is a versatile wing that can score from anywhere on the floor.
Riley Barker | 6-10 | PF | Basketball BC-One Pass Ahead/White Rock Christian Academy (White Rock, BC)
With a 7-0 wingspan, Riley Barker is a swat machine, averaging 4 bpg last season. His strengths are strictly on the defensive end with his rebounding, blocking and clogging up the paint. However, he’ll definitely need to enhance his offense in order to make it to the next level. Presently, he generates most of his points off of put-backs and alley-oops.
The selection process wasn’t easy for the juniors as this class is loaded with promising talent and rising stars waiting to burst on to the scene. Again, some of these players are already on prep teams, some just entered and others are taking the traditional route by staying in Canada. With no further ado, here are 20 top Canadian juniors…
Class of 2011
Myck Kabongo | 6-1 | PG | Grassroots Elite Canada/St. Benedict’s ( NJ Via Toronto, ON)
An absolute nightmare in the open court, Kabongo has the ball speed and great court vision to create scoring opportunities for his team whether it’s a crisp 20-foot bounce pass or tossing up a deep lob. He has also shown his ability to lead a cohesive unit by getting everyone involved. Kabongo excels in the transition game where you will find him giving up dime after dime or if need be, take it to the tin and finish while absorbing contact. He will need to improve his left hand in order to be a bigger scoring threat. Myck’s offensive game still needs development including consistency on his shot; he has the capabilities of sinking the mid range and even from deep but to make an immediate impact for the Texas Longhorns in ‘11-12, he will need the total package. Not very far off though!
Kevin Pangos | 6-1 | PG | York Avengers/Dr. Denison (Holland, ON)
This young gun has been making noise for quite some time here in Canada but seems to be disregarded. Pangos is arguably the most complete point guard in the 2011 class. Pangos’ game is interestingly molded around Canadian native, Steve Nash. The most eye catching aspect of Kevin’s game is his intelligence on the floor, he is an extension of his coaching staff as he is constantly poised and patient. When the ball is in his hands, expect production.
Kemy Osse | 6-1 | SG | DC Assault/Archbishop Carroll (DC via Montreal, QC)
Kemy’s perimeter game is probably more developed than anyone else on this list. Although undersized at the shooting guard position, his speed and great ball handling make up for it. Kemy does most of his damage off the dribble, where he freezes opponents then drills jumpers in their face. He is a tough match up as he keeps defenders off balance and creates space for his shots. Defensively, although it may sound silly to say, (due to his height) Kemy is a great help defender thanks to his long arms. He can also be devastating at times as an on ball defender with his foot speed, but he will need to assert himself in this area. Kemy still has two years left to grow a couple of inches and if he does, this will be a bonus and he will be a definite high-major prospect.
Wells Davis | 6-5 | SG/SF | Team Takeover Canada/Culver Military Academy (IN via Mississauga, ON)
This kid has a great bounce to his step and is a quick leaper. He can grab rebounds and go coast to coast but improving his left hand will make him much more dangerous in the open court. With his size and length, Davis could be a great lock down perimeter defender.
Khem Birch | 6-8 | C | Brookwood Elite/Winchendon(MA via Montreal, QC)
With a wingspan over 7-1, this lanky big man uses his length at both ends of the floor, but will need to get a lot stronger to get position in the paint. On offense, he is consistently playing above the rim and already boasts a couple of post moves. Only in his fifth year playing basketball, Birch is gradually seeing improvement in his game and as he fills in his thin frame, he will be a serious force inside. Birch is a blocking machine (averaged 5 bpg last season) with upside to drool over. You will definitely hear more about this prospect in the near future!
Kenny Fred Cherry | 6-0 | PG/SG | PX Knights/Archbishop Carroll (DC via Parc Ex, QC)
Kenny A.K.A Make it Rain has been making it rain for some time now. Cherry brings great energy and is a prolific scorer usually beating defenders with his quick first step. He is able to score in various ways from anywhere on the court but could still benefit from a more consistent trey ball. Cherry erases his average athleticism with good body strength and basketball IQ. He too will enter his first prep year looking to attract some D1 interest.
David Wagner | 6-8 | PF | South Kamloops (South Kamloops, BC)
Wagner brings a steady developing low post game, after picking up some tips from former teammate and Gonzaga commit, Kelly Olynyk. Wagner displays some solid footwork and positioning in the low post to get the ball where he wants it. However, he will need to add more strength for the collegiate level. David also has shown some consistency in his mid-range jumper which catches defenders by surprise. His weak spot lies in his lateral speed, which he will need to improve to increase his mobility and beat taller defenders off the elbow. Adding a face up game will also benefit his game tremendously.
Negus Webster-Chan | 6-6 | SG/SF | Pope John Paul II (Scarborough, ON)
Negus is a very lanky player with all the tools of a mid major/high major prospect. His solid handle complimented with good jumping ability is an antidote for a promising wing. Negus is able to hit the mid-range and extend to the three-point line but still could improve on creating for himself. On the defensive end, his size is proven to be disruptive when locked in. His long arms and size for position serve him well on both ends of the floor. Already with a year of varsity experience under his belt, Webster –Chan is on the verge of taking the ‘09-10 high school season by storm.
Jonathan Tshibuy | 6-5 | SG/SF | PX Knights/Archbishop Carroll (DC via Montreal, QC)
With good size and length for his position, Tshibuy continues to improve his guard skills. He is an aggressive player that knows how to score inside but will need to speed up his dribbling to become an effective slasher at the next level. Jonathan is also the prototype of a lock-down defender with his long arms; and as he improves on his foot speed, he should develop into a solid perimeter defender.
Kurtis Ethier | 6-1 | PG | Grassroots Canada Elite/Jean Vanier (Toronto, ON)
With a basic approach to the game, Ethier always manages to stay consistent and on point. However, he will definitely elevate his game by adding more speed and strength while sustaining his fundamental skills. Ethier is a threat from deep which keeps opposing guards honest but adding speed to his solid ball handling will enable him to be more of a threat offensively. Overall, a smart player with great confidence and leadership skills.
Stefan Jankovic | 6-9 | F | Grassroots Canada Elite/St Francis Xavier (Mississauga, ON)
Stefan uses his versatility as a major weapon against opposing bigs. He will not hesitate to step behind the three-point line and launch, keeping defenders off balance. Jankovic also has solid dribbling skills for his height but will need to use this attribute to his advantage by being more aggressive to the hoop. He will need to add muscle mass to his thin frame in order to play this brand of basketball. At 6-9, Stefan must improve his traffic rebounding and be a force on the glass to become a complete player.
Kevin Thomas | 6-8 | F | Team Takeover Canada/Saint John’s Catholic Prep (MD via Toronto, ON)
A great rebounder with height and good leaping ability. Kevin possesses a variety of post moves combined with the ability to put the ball on the floor. However, he will need to throw on some muscle and increase his strength to become an elite player in this class. Overall, Thomas has great upside and should continue to rise in the rankings this year.
Grandy Glaze | 6-6 | PF | Team Takeover Canada/Saint John’s Catholic Prep (MD via Brampton, ON)
Not your typical power forward, Glaze not only has a cool name but also maximizes the intangibles to dominate the floor. He is not overly athletic nor is he a speedster but what he does bring is constant energy, hustle, communication, smarts and basic fundamental skills. He already has a couple of solid post moves and can rebound well despite his lack of height at power forward. He runs the floor as if someone is chasing him and is able to finish plays. His perimeter game has also developed over the past year, and with some more improvement in his dribbling, Glaze could bring a new element to his game and ultimately boost his stock significantly.
Nick Lewis | 6-1 | PG/SG | Pope John Paul II (Scarborough, ON)
With his quick first step, Lewis is able to drive by opponents with ease and finish above the rim or create for his teammates. With his added strength over the summer, Nick will look to test his skills at the varsity level where he will join Negus Webster-Chan to make a deadly duo. As a floor general, Lewis will need to learn how to lead his team and communicate on both ends of the floor. This upcoming season will be a good indication of what type of player he could be.
Matej Delinac | 6-2 | PG/SG | Team Takeover Canada/Saint John’s Catholic Prep (MD via Brampton, ON)
Matej Delinac knows a thing or two about putting the ball in the hoop. He can penetrate and finish, or consistently make shots from anywhere on the court. Matej also runs the floor well and has good size, compared by his AAU coach as “a throwback to Pistol Pete.” An overstatement? Yes, but to even draw such comparisons to the basketball legend speaks volumes.
Mitch Jacobsen | 6-7 | SF | Sir Winston Churchill (Calgary, Alberta)
The key word here is potential. Jacobsen is still a work in progress but is a willing learner and has the apparatus to dominate. He has good size and a growing perimeter game; with added foot speed, Jacobsen could take his game to new heights. After sitting out a year due to transfer rules, Jacobsen is ready to blossom at the varsity level. Keep an eye on him as he is far from reaching his plateau.
Shaquile Woodcock | 5-10 | PG | Scarborough Blues/Father Henry Carr (Toronto, ON)
It always seems like the smallest guys on the court have something to prove. Watching Woodcock, his feistiness is evident as he plays with a chip on his shoulder. He is very quick and knows how to push the ball and create inside, with either a bucket or a trip to the free throw line. Shaquile channels this same energy to get after it defensively and pester opposing guards. If he sustains this hunger, Woodcock will be a problem for years to come.
Kevin Blake | 6-2 | G | Toronto BJCC/Oakwood (Toronto, ON)
Blake is a natural athlete with a very smooth approach to the game. He always seems to be making the right decisions within the flow of the game. Kevin has a great mid-range shot and will need to add consistency behind the arc, but is a good fit for the wing given he adds a few inches. In the meantime, KB should focus on getting his guard game right to maximize his potential. With his current skill set and body, he is able to play both ends of the floor efficiently and with his steady progress, Blake will be sure to attract more interest from the States.
Jarryn Skeete | 6-1 | PG | Mississauga Wolverines/Cardinal Leger (Brampton, ON)
Skeete is a crafty point guard that can carry a team in a variety of ways. His court vision is superb and at times it seems as if the ball is attached to his hand due to his great handle. Skeete is also a proven threat from around the elbow. With decent length at the guard spot, he is able to get into the passing lanes and play solid one-on-one defence. Overall, a complete point guard, among the top of his class.
Niko Plastich | 6-4 | SF | Toronto BJCC/St. Marcellinus (Mississauga, ON)
Niko is an intelligent player that plays with passion and intensity at all times. His strong frame allows him to overpower defenders inside while maintaining his body control. On the flipside, he will need to improve his mobility and athleticism to sustain dominance in his class. He should also develop his dribbling ability and avoid killing his dribble, which would make him more of a well-rounded threat. Plastich also possesses a nice shooting touch, especially from the mid-range. As he continues to polish up his missing elements, Plastich should begin to attract some schools this year on both sides of the boarder.
This couldn’t end without some shout outs to the promising players entering the NCAA, looking to make an instant impact for their respective teams.
Class of 2009
Mangisto Arop | 6-6 | SG | Edmonton, AB/NEDA | Gonzaga
Mark Few nabbed an absolute stud; Arop will continue to shine bright as a Bulldog for years to come.
Alwayne Bigby | 6-4 | SG | Toronto, ON/Eastern Commerce | Northeastern
As his name suggests, Bigby will be a big piece of the Northeastern puzzle as they look to rebuild.
Junior Cadougan | 6-1 | PG | Toronto, ON/Christian Life Center Prep | Marquette
SLAM’s preached the word of Cadougan for years now, and the time has finally come for this Canadian prodigy to rise to the challenge that we call the NCAA.
Kelly Olynyk | 6-10 | SF | Kamloops, BC/South Kamloops | Gonzaga
Olynyk has potential written all over him. Playing the point for his high school squad, Olynyk has all the tools (and more) to become the Canadian version of Dirk Nowitzki!