Be Like Myck
Canada’s next point guard prodigy.
The city of Toronto has become a breeding ground for elite level point guards. Not known in the past for producing top tier prospects, Toronto has now produced three straight floor generals ranked among the best in North America. Junior Cadougan and Cory Joseph changed the perception of Toronto’s talent and paved the way for guys younger than them to walk into the limelight. So who’s stepped up?
Let me introduce Myck Kabongo. Toronto’s next great prodigy and a future ambassador for Canadian basketball. Not only a lightning quick offensive orchestrator with supreme talent, but also a young man who cares about his neighborhood and the well being of future prospects blessed to be in a similar position.
File the name, get comfortable, and read on, as SLAMonline takes you through the story of St. Benedict’s star, Myck Kabongo.
Myck gained a reputation as a player to be reckoned with at an early age. In just the 4th grade he was already competing against 8th graders. A regular at Eastview Neighborhood Community Center, Myck used basketball as a way to stay out of trouble. “I grew up in Regent Park which isn’t the best of places, but it made me tough and I owe it to that area for making me what I am. It was a tough place to grow up and I knew I had to stay out of trouble. That’s how I found the game of basketball,” said Myck.
As he got older, Myck cemented his reputation as one of the cities best young guards. It was than that coach Ro Russell invited Myck to join his highly respected AAU club, Grassroots Canada. Only problem was that at the time, Coach Russell never had a team for 6th graders.
The way Coach remembers it, “I learned about Myck through Junior Cadougan. At the time I never had a team for his age group, so when Myck came around he played with Junior, Alwayne Bigby, and all the great players a few years ahead of him. He always had that mindset, even as a young kid that he wanted to play with the older guys. There just wasn’t enough challenge for him to play with his peers. He was incredibly advanced.”
Although Myck didn’t play much at first out on the circuit, it was an incredible learning experience for him. “I didn’t play much when I first started to play for coach Ro, but he had Junior and growing up in Toronto everyone looked up to Junior. Just sitting and learning from him, and seeing how he played out on the court was a great learning experience. I was just honored to play for Grassroots Canada,” said Myck.
Myck took what he learned in the summers from Junior and Coach Ro to Toronto powerhouse, Eastern Commerce. Although he played just one year, it was an important one in his development. “I knew I always wanted to play in America. I was only going to be there one year, so I maxed out the one year I was there. It really helped me get ready to come to prep school. I worked everyday, put in extra hours, got in a lot of training, and the coaches worked with me personally to help me get better. It was a great experience.”
Myck used his experience with Grassroots and Eastern Commerce to open the eyes of people outside of Toronto. He followed his dream, packed his bags, and embarked on a journey to Newark’s St.Benedict’s Prep. Now able to play against some of the best players in the United States, Myck embraces the challenge. Always a talented young player, what separates Myck is his cut throat competitive spirit. “Whoever’s on the court and bringing the ball up, I have to rip them. I have to take that name off their back. I don’t care who it is. It could be Cory Joseph, it could be Kyrie Irving, it could be anyone. I love competition and I love to win,” proclaims Myck.
Winning is exactly what Myck has been able to accomplish since arriving in New Jersey. Last season, Myck led St. Benedict’s to a 24-3 record and a trip to the semi finals of the ESPN Rise High School Basketball Invitational.
It didn’t stop there. With the season over, Myck rejoined Grassroots Canada on the AAU circuit, this time as one of the key guys. Playing with childhood friends Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, Grassroots was once again one of the best teams on the circuit. What did Myck bring to the team? “He sort of has that Sebastian Telfair-esque craftiness to his game. Change of speeds, change of movement, change of direction. He’s great at getting people off-balance and keeping everybody guessing. He just has that god given ability on the basketball court to be creative. It’s kind of like he’s painting a picture out there,” says a proud Ro Russell.
Now back at St.Benedict’s for his second season, Myck has aspirations of leading the Gray Bees all the way to the Chip. “Right now we’re the No. 4 team in the country (according to ESPN Rise). I told the guys, no one remembers the team that finishes fourth, only the team who finishes first. We’re in the gym sweating and working hard every day. Hopefully it will help us reach our goal of being No. 1.”
Myck is a guy who doesn’t really spend too much time thinking about the future. He likes to live in the present and control the things he can control. That being said, Myck has already committed to playing his collegiate basketball at the University of Texas. Known for having smaller guards who are lightning quick and excellent in pick and roll situations, Myck should fit right in and continue the legacy started by TJ Ford and DJ Augustine. Both players were lottery picks and achieved enormous success in Austin by pushing the tempo and orchestrating easy offense for their teammates.
Will Myck look to mimic the things that made those guys so special? “I talk to DJ Augustine a lot. He always tells me, there’s nothing wrong with emulating us, but you’ve got to do what you do best. Obviously I’m going to take some of the things that they’ve done, but I’m going to try and do it my way when I get to Texas,” says Myck, clearly excited about the future. “When kids younger than me are coming up and thinking about going to Texas, I want them to be thinking…I want to go to Texas because I saw what Myck Kabongo did when he was there.”
If Myck reaches his goals, it won’t just be the kids in Austin looking up to him. He’ll have an entire country behind him showing their support. That’s not something Myck takes for granted. “Doing it for your country, that’s everything. If we make it one day, it will give the country hope that we can develop the type of guys that will play in the NBA. That’s why I go so hard when I’m on the court. It’s bigger than me now. I’ve got a whole country on my back that I would love to succeed for. We’re trying to grow the game of basketball in Canada.”
Myck got his first taste of representing Canada this summer, when he was the youngest player on the Men’s National Team which travelled to Spain. According to Head Coach Leo Rautins: “I thoroughly enjoyed coaching Myck this past summer. He is a sponge — he soaks up anything he can to improve his game. He plays with enthusiasm and heart…and takes criticism in the way it is intended — to make him better. If Myck stays focused and keeps his attitude and work ethic, he has a chance to be really, really good. I’m excited about his future for him…and for Canada.”
As you can see, the future of Canadian basketball is as bright as it’s ever been. Myck’s story is one that will hopefully inspire younger players to work hard, and pursue their dreams. Myck doesn’t take this responsibility for granted and hopes to make a difference in his community. “I just want to show kids in Canada, in Toronto, and in my neighborhood that you can make it out. A lot of guys have dreams but just don’t feel like they can reach them. If they have someone like me that’s from Toronto and come to the United States and proved they can play at the highest level, they can do it too. I want to be someone people can look up to, someone who came from nothing to something. That’s my story.”
Nolan Shulman is the North American Recruiting Analyst for Flagrant Fouls. He provides an in-depth look at standout prospects and programs from Toronto to California.