Battle of the Boards
Showcasing Ontario’s finest.
by Tariq Sbiet / @tsbiet
If you’re a scout, member of the media or just a passionate high school hoops fan, Ryerson University was the place to be on March 24 where the Gym was gushing with high-caliber players, some of the top prospects in Ontario. There were so many guys to keep track of that I was beginning to get dizzy about half way through, with my eyes gazing as if I was watching a ping pong match in the front row.
The organizer of this great event was Roy Rana, Head Coach of the Ryerson Rams and former coach at Eastern Commerce High School, one of the powerhouse programs in Ontario for the last decade.
“One of the things that I wanted to do, and the university wanted to do was celebrate the kids that are here. A lot of focus has been on the kids that have gone off to the U.S and I think we need to provide better opportunities for our kids here,” said Rana.
“We will continue to build the event, secure more sponsors and build awareness. I don’t think we’re going to expand it into a tournament format (more than one game for each team) because that could jeopardize guy’s eligibility due to the two all-star game NCAA rule.”
Anthony Ottley, one of the top prospects in the province gives his take on what the Battle of the Boards meant to him, “It means a lot because when I came into high school no one really knew who I was, I just played. I didn’t touch a basketball in elementary school, so I worked hard for it.”
Well if you’re a scout, member of the media or just a passionate high school hops fan that missed this showcase, I got you covered. Keep reading and you will identify some of Ontario’s best basketball talent.
Hassan Abdullahi | F | Pope John Paul II | 2012
This kid has grown on me over the season. From the first time I saw him play at the Humber Classic, he stood out, but was probably on the low end of the prospects in that tournament. That was in November, now things have changed tremendously; his confidence has grown and my confidence in him has followed. Hassan got his first opportunity to shine with the stars and proved he belonged sinking four straight triples. I am very optimistic about Hassan, he is very long and lanky which is a plus when it comes to his defense and rebounding. He seems to be showing comfort at both guard positions, handling a lot more. If he can take full time duties at the point next year, look out. At worst, if he’s playing the 2-guard he will still be doing damage. A clear pattern that has developed with respect to his game is that he never takes plays off. Even though it was an all-star game, it looked like he was out there with a purpose, possibly to cement his name among the cream of the crop. It’s officially been cemented.
Keyon Stephenson | 6-4 | Wing | Mother Teresa | 2011
Keyon possesses the makings of an impact wing player. He can shoot the three, create off the dribble and has good enough athleticism and speed to have a solid defensive presence.
Bikram Gill | 6-6 | F | Ascencion | 2011
Gill is a long body on the wing with the ability to hit from deep. He has enough athleticism to make him a scoring threat and has all the tools to be effective anywhere on the floor. However, Gill would benefit from a quicker release, making it awfully difficult to defend against at 6’6. He spends most of his time roaming the perimeter, at least during this game, making him ineffective on the glass. Again, Bikram has the correct formula to be a successful wing at the college level, now all he needs to do is put it all together and be more agressive on both ends of the floor.
Jamal Pryce | 6-0 | PG | St Francis Xavier | 2011
A very quick dribbler that can lose defenders in a heartbeat. However, Pryce can get himself into trouble when he over dribbles, costing him turnovers. If Pryce can stay composed, he is a real threat against opposing guards.
Chris Anderson | 6-4 | Wing | Mt. Carmel | 2010
No, it’s not the birdman, even though he’s got the hops. Anderson has good size for his position and showed a little bit of everything such as handling the ball, passing, rebounding and defending. Anderson came out with a lot of energy and that really distinguished him in this field of players.
Manny Sahota | 6-6 | Wing | D’Youville | 2011
This Cornell Commit will be a great fit for Coach Steve Donahue and the hot shooting Big Red next year. Sahota has a nice stroke from mid-range and can extend to the 3-point line. Manny is patient in the offense whether it’s an all-star game or a league game, he lets the game come to him and takes what the defense gives him instead of forcing difficult shots. I anticipate this patience will be sustained at the college level where he will be solid for his Ivy League squad.
Jahmal Jones | 6-0 | PG | Mississauga | 2010
JJ is a guard with quick feet that stifles opposing lead guards defensively and forces turnovers. Offensively, Jones looked to get teammates involved, especially in transition where he continuously pushed the tempo.
Jordan Clennon | 6-2 | PG | Campion | 2010
Clennon has the ability to light it up from deep but needs to improve his shot selection. He can be a deadly offensive weapon if he gets himself going early but needs to involve himself more in the offense as a passer, especially at the next level. This would make him a complete point guard. Also, Clennon will definitely need to put on some muscle this summer if he plans on sustaining any kind of success playing college ball.
Andrew Howell-Stephenson | 6-2 | SG | Brampton Centennial | 2011
Stephenson is a very athletic wing that did all the right things when faced up against his fellow all-stars. Stephenson showcased every part of his game including his pull-up from mid-range, 3-point shot as well as his penetration. This leaper uses his springs to attack the basket and draw contact in mid air. On a baseline drive, Andrew got off the ground on one side of the rim and then creatively finished with a smooth, defended reverse layup, landing on the other side. His jumping ability was also evident when he got up for rebounds, snatching the ball close to its peak. Andrew not only finishes above the rim, but crams with authority as he had his own mini dunking showcase near the end of the game with a gorgeous windmill dunk, and a one hander cocked all the way back.
Natiel McKenzie | 5-9 | PG | Pickering | 2010
This kid has seen it all at Pickering High. He was there with Cory (Findlay Prep) and Devoe Joseph (University of Minnesota). He was there with Dwayne Smith (George Washington U). He was there with Jonathan Tull (Central Conn. State). He was an OFSAA champion. Mckenzie has been solid throughout his whole high school career at Pickering High. He won’t light up the scoreboard, but he’ll provide what you need at the point; leadership and consistency. Something I hadn’t seen from him prior to this year was his surprising leaping ability. At only 5’9, Natiel is able to throw it down cleanly. Defensively, he is tough and usually picks up his man full court. This kid has been a pleasure to watch, as solid as a rock and poised throughout all his years. If anyone deserves recognition, it’s him.
MiKyle McIntosh | 6-7 | F | Pickering | 2013
When put up against older competition, Big Mac’s youth was evident. McIntosh didn’t have trouble getting to the right spots, in scoring position, but struggled to finish against bigger bodies when he got off the ground, particularly on the interior. But Mikyle was impressive on the perimeter, hitting elbow jump shots and even showing potential to move down to a wing with more development in his dribbling.
Aaron Redpath | 6-4 | G | JC Richardson | 2011
Just don’t leave this guy open; he’ll drain it 9 out of 10 times. I’m probably exaggerating, but you get the point. Redpath still hesitates to penetrate aggressively, which is an aspect of his game that was absent in this game. Currently, he tends to kill his dribble after one attempt at beating the defense. If Aaron could develop more confidence and consistency in his dribbling and penetration, he would be one dangerous player, given that his shot is extremely efficient; both midrange and from deep.
Tyrell Samuels | 6-0 | PG | J. Clarke | 2011
This rail thin PG will need to get stronger in order to begin drawing more contact in his penetration. Right now, he depends on his signature floater in the middle of the lane but that shot will become tougher against bigger teams. Samuels plays with passion at all times and is a good leader. He can hit short jumpers but should extend his range.
Kevin Pangos | 6-1 | PG | Dr. J.M. Denison | 2012
I would have to say that Pangos was the top prospect in this event and arguably in the country. This floor general makes everything look very easy and natural, frequently being compared to Steve Nash. It was the first time in over a year that I got to witness KP in action. He has put on muscle mass and has good size. Pangos has a great understanding of the game and analyzes the floor extremely well. He picks his spots and is patient, rarely turning over the ball which is very impressive considering the fact that he looks to push it every chance he gets. I can’t imagine any of his teammates being dissatisfied when Kevin is on the floor as he gets the ball to where it needs to be, moving very vast with the rock in his hands and basically coasting by the defense time after time. Pangos has also improved defensively showing that he can pick up his man full court on several possessions. I can go on and on about KP but I must save some room for the rest of these prospects. Almost forgot to mention, Pangos dished out at least 10 assists in this game.
Stefan Nastic | 6-11 | PF/C | Thornhill | 2010
This Stanford commit was also very impressive at the showcase easily being the tallest in the gym. On one play, Nastic was at the top of the 3-point line where he pump faked, took one dribble and flushed it at the rim displaying his length and ability to put the ball on the floor; a huge asset for any team. Another bright spot was his outlet passes…each time he grabbed a rebound, he immediately looked for Pangos to hit him and start the break. Stefan also showed his post development with a couple strong moves inside. On the flipside, he also shied away from contact a few times where he could have went up strong to draw a foul. Besides his height, Nastic has a massive wingspan which makes him intimidating on defense. He is not much of a defensive player yet, but the potential is there.
Dinjyl Walker | 6-1 | PG/SG | Vaughan | 2012
The York Region All-star team was loaded with PG presence in Kevin Pangos, Brandon Bos and Carlos Isit; Walker needed to bring something else to the table, which is what he did. Dinjyl came out aggressive on offense looking to score in a variety of ways. He shot off of curls, pulled up for jumpers, step backs and scored a lot of set shots off Pangos’ dimes. This kid has really blossomed and is already a solid prospect. After increasing speed on both ends of the floor combined with working on his handles, Dinjyl will become a special player next year.
Jordan Catterall | 6-1 | PG/SG | Holy Trinity | 2011
Lightning quick guard both with the ball and without, which makes sense considering he is a gifted wide receiver for Holy Trinity in Oakville. This speedster loves to penetrate and attack the rim but should invest some time working on his outside shot. Defensively, his quick feet give him an upper hand. No pun intended. He is able to get defensive position, setting up opponents for offensive fouls, even though not many were called due to the nature of All-star games.
Brandon Bos | 6-1 | PG/SG | Markham | 2011
Bos carries a score-first guard mentality but at the same time can get his teammates involved when necessary. However, B-squared seemed to be overshadowed in this particular game by an imposing Kevin Pangos. Bos has a clean pull-up jumper that he can get off the dribble when he wants and can finish with either hand on his penetration.
Mike Lafricain | 6-0 | PG | Loyola (Oakville) | 2011
This point knows how to lead a team. He has a nice touch on his shot and good range. He is able to get by defenders and set up his guys. Overall, a solid prospect.
Julian Clarke | 6-3 | G | Oakwood | 2010
This sharpshooting combo didn’t perform at his usual rate, not being able to find his shooting stroke, but showed a little bit more penetration than usual. Clarke looks to be leaning toward Santa Clara next year.
Daniel Mullings | 6-3 | PG | Sir Wilfred Laurier CI | 2010
As Rick James would put it, “He’s a superfreak.” If he’s not tamed, he will simply jump out of the gym. The good thing is that athleticism isn’t all he can offer. Mullings has good court vision and when frequently drawing double teams, he dishes it off to teammates for easy layups. He uses his leaping ability to attack the rim hard, drawing a lot of contact to put him on the line. On defense, Mullings can frustrate opposing guards with his length and quickness. Daniel has tremendous upside, especially for his position. Developing consistency in his shot will take him to another stratosphere.
Anthony Ottley | 6-6 | Wing | Emery CI | 2010
Ottley is arguably the most polished player offensively in this showcase. He has good strength and athleticism and knows how to put the ball in the hoop. He can score in a variety of ways; whether it’s inside or out, it doesn’t matter. Fade away jumpers in the post, transition baskets, step-back jumpers, punishing the rim, etc. The areas of improvement will be in his consistency shooting from long range as well as his defense. He has good size but not quick enough feet to guard all perimeter positions yet. Overall, I think Ottley is a top-five prospect in Ontario.
Kavon Parchment | 6-2 | PG/SG | West Hill CI | 2011
It was refreshing to watch Parchment soak in the fun of such an event as he was all smiles throughout the game, raising his hands in the air, thumbs overlapped to form wings after every three-point shot that he hit. Parchment is long and wiry and would benefit from some time in the weight room as was the case for many of these players.
Matthew Wright | 6-3 | PG/SG | Martingrove | 2010
If you follow any Canadian high school hoops then you know about “Mr Wright.” He’s a smart and smooth player that can fill up the basket. When he gets hot from deep, the only thing you can do is sit back and enjoy. He owns one of the best pull up jumpers in the nation and did I mention he was smooth? Even his dunks are graceful as he showed during this game. Wright is currently being recruited by Xavier, Maine, Western Carolina and Brown to name a few.
Justin Edwards | 6-1 | PG/SG | Anderson | 2012
Edwards must work on his point guard game if he would like to be successful at the college level. He coughed up the ball on several possessions after being stifled and trapped by bigger guards. However, Edwards did show some promise, with some good moves on the wing. One particular play saw him posting up, faking one way then turning for a fade-away bank shot, and yes he called it!