March 25th, 2021

(Peterborough, ON) On Point Basketball in association with LTD Sports, is proud to introduce the On Point National Hoops Showcase, also known as Show ‘N’ Prove taking place on Victoria Day Weekend from Friday May 21st to Monday May 24th.

The Covid-19 pandemic and halting of basketball gameplay has resulted in limited opportunities for players looking to compete against their peers. Show ‘N’ Prove is here to change that dynamic by providing a high level, exciting and entertaining platform for players to show out and gain exposure, while having fun at the same time. 

Show ‘N’ Prove is like nothing Ontario and Canada has seen before, ” said On Point Basketball founder and CEO & Show ‘N’ Prove Media, Content & Scouting Director , Drew Ebanks. 

“It gives ballers of all ages and skill levels a chance to see how they match up against their basketball peers with divisions for Elementary School, Middle School, Secondary School, as well as Prep, AAU, College /University and Professionals. Looking forward to bringing this exciting new concept of basketball competition to the masses along with LTD Sports.”

As part of the Show ‘N’ Prove movement, a portion of the proceeds from each event will be put back into the local community for initiatives such as gym access for underprivileged youth, underserved community groups and those with special needs. 

The events will continue to champion mentorship in health, wellness & nutrition as well as outdoor court and indoor basketball facility refurbishing.

“A platform now exists where players can not only test their current skill levels in a safe environment, but also have a positive impact on those who are underserved in their community”, states newly appointed Commissioner of Show ‘N’ Prove, Bill Crowdis. 

“This is a great starting point for our return to play initiatives and something that could potentially unite our basketball communities. Every player deserves the opportunity to showcase their skills on a neutralized platform, to see where they stack up against their peers.”

Show ‘N’ Prove is all about STACKING UP against your competition and showcasing your game with the difference makers in youth basketball in attendance.  

Each player will put their shooting, ball handling and passing skills on display in an All-Star Combine formatted competition including a dunkoff, 3 point shootout, free throw competition, skills challenge and more, with results recorded and ranked for players, coaches and scouts to see.

Players will participate in games with their assigned squad to showcase their skills and basketball IQ and see how they STACK UP against the top players in their age group! 

This event is NOT about drills and instruction. It is for players to SHOW OUT, gain exposure, compete, have fun and see where they STACK UP! 

Show ‘N’ Prove Director of Player Identification, Damon Browne reiterates, “This is truly an exciting way to kick off basketball for 2021. Giving the players the option to register as individuals and play in competitions with arbitrarily selected teams, is a unique concept in Canada and will certainly bring a player’s creativity and skills to the forefront! I can’t wait to see the players SHOW OUT and STACK UP!!!”

The first Show ‘N’ Prove session is on the Victoria Day long weekend from Friday May 21st to Sunday May 24th, 2021 at the Playground East in Peterborough, ON. Cost is $100/Player. We look forward to seeing you STACK UP! 

*STRICT COVID PROTOCOLS are in effect based on the guidelines set forth by local health departments as well our provincial and national sports governing bodies. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. 

For more information and to REGISTER TODAY go to www.shownprove.ca 

INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK:

@show_n_prove_canada

CONTACT: 

[email protected]

(905) 419-6666

HASHTAGS: #snownprovecanada #onpointbasketball #letsplay #kawarthabasketball

MEDIA CONTACTS: 

Damon Browne, Player Identification & Team Liaison

[email protected] 

416 684-7592

Bill Crowdis, Commissioner 

[email protected] 

289 314-1152

Drew Ebanks, Media, Content & Scouting Director

[email protected]

647 987-4667

On Point Basketball Inc. is a basketball media, content & lifestyle portal that features prominent basketball personalities from across Canada and around the world. Our mission is to uplift the basketball community both in Canada and abroad through our production of high quality video, written basketball content, social media and basketball circuits & events.

Long Term Development Sports Inc. is an  incorporated non-profit organization. Over the past decade LTD Sports has been actively developing initiatives to help improve the accessibility of quality community sports programs. Our mission is to motivate children and youth to participate in physical activity while promoting the importance of teamwork and healthy living.

(Scarborough, On) The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) has undergone a rapid expansion from its inaugural season, with three new teams added to the league in this season alone – but no team has burst onto the scene with landmark moves like the brand-new Scarborough Shooting Stars have in the last month. 

Like many CEBL teams, the Shooting Stars have quickly become a team for the city, by the city, and from the start, with OVO co-founder and Scarborough native Niko Carino leading the charge with The Playground co-founder Sam Ibrahim. Their early moves included several important figures from Scarborough’s basketball history, including former NBA All-Star and Toronto Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire. 

The Shooting Stars will play their inaugural season home games at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre,

While other teams got started in training camp this week, the Shooting Stars front office was cooking up one of the most intriguing signings in league history ­– rapper, and point guard, J. Cole. The announcement drew attention to the league in ways that few have before, with international coverage picking it up immediately, including NBA insider Shams Charania tweeting the news. 

Cole will command a lot of attention from fans and media but will have a lot to prove in his time with the Shooting Stars. The rapper made his pro debut in 2021 in the Basketball Africa League, where he appeared in three games for the Rwanda Patriots. The CEBL represents a significant step up in talent from the last time we saw Cole on the court, but the guard will have a chance to show what he’s capable of early on with the expansion team. 

They’re also bringing in one of the best Canadian bigs who is currently not signed in the NBA. Kyle Alexander saw time in the NBA with the Miami Heat and the G League’s Sioux Fall’s Skyforce before signing with Spanish club Fuenlabrada in 2020. Alexander has found his groove in the more structured international game – which the CEBL has tried to mold itself after – with impressive showings throughout his time with Fuenlabrada, including a recent 30-point outing against UCAM Murcia in March. 

Danilo Djuricic, who was notably a part of the U19 Canadian team that won the gold medal in 2017, brings an explosive offensive aspect to the Shooting Stars with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and score inside. Djuricic had his collegiate career at Harvard cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic but recently played for Basketball Club Brno in the Czech Republic, where he averaged five points and five rebounds. 

And finally, Olu Famutimi brings a veteran CEBL presence to the team in a way that few can. Famutimi’s pro career started in 2005 with a training camp invite from the Philadelphia 76ers, and he’s remained a fixture of the Canadian pro basketball scene throughout the last decade – including a showing with the Edmonton Stingers in their run in the Basketball Champions League Americas. 

While the Shooting Stars are new to the scene, they’ve brought a sense of excitement to the new season that few could have predicted. The city that was once was the premier battleground for basketball talent in Canada will now have its chance to enter the national conversation through the CEBL and will look to prove that Scarborough hasn’t been passed by with the growth of the game within Canada. 

NOTE: It’s been reported that J Cole will only play in the Shooting Stars first 3 games as he starts his Off–Season tour on July 10th in New York. 

Screening at the 2022 Hot Docs Canadian Festival this May, Handle with Care details the journey of Vancouver streetball legends The Notic. Produced by Ryan Sidhoo and directed by long-time Notic filmmakers Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux and Kirk Thomas, the documentary showcases the rise of the group in the early 2000’s, before detailing The Notic’s disbanding and the individual stories that took place in the time since. The story concludes with the group reuniting 20 years later, to make amends and reflect on the massive impact they carried in street basketball as well as for Canadian hoops in general.    

Opening with crazy scenes from a trip to Asia, Handle with Care quickly introduces the audience to Joel (Joey) Haywood, a now-streetball legend dubbed “King Handles”, and how he went from a talented youngster playing around the Vancouver area to a worldwide streetball legend.   

From there we’re slowly introduced to the rest of the crew, starting with Jonathan (Johnny Blaze) and David Mubanda (David Dazzle): immigrants from Uganda who were still getting used to the differences & challenges of living in Canada.  

Jonathan Mubanda & Joey Haywood (Courtesy The Notic)

For many of the guys in The Notic they struggled to find their place in their youth, not fitting in to any real circles or cliques. The Mubanda’s discuss the difficulties of growing up in Africa and moving to a place where they were some of the only black kids in their school, and how desperate they were for a creative outlet to find a sense of belonging.   

Some of them may have not taken to basketball right away, citing hockey as a passion early on in their lives. Due to high costs though, things eventually shifted to basketball. Sometimes struggling in school and often times struggling to acclimate to their surroundings, the guys found love in the sport of basketball, and began to turn heads in streetball courts across Vancouver.   

Although the talent was undeniable, they played a style of basketball that made old-heads frown. It was flashy, it was extravagant and it was all about embarrassing the man lining up against you. It wasn’t exactly what you’d call team-basketball, and so once again they struggled to fit in. The style wasn’t accepted in high school basketball or in mainstream Vancouver circles, but it was starting to gain traction amongst the underground streetball crowd.   

Especially for Haywood, who was a highly-touted high school prospect, the appeal of street basketball started to outweigh the traditional game. His coaches would often tell him that he needed to switch his style, and multiple times referred to his playing style as being “too black,” The poor-tasted comments and criticism’s only fueled Haywood further, and he continued to work on his craft, embracing the style of basketball he felt he wanted to play.   

Word began to spread around the Vancouver area and a few of the eventual members met for a pick-up game in Burnaby. For the first time for many of them it was the first chance to find people that actually played the same way: it was proper street basketball. Haywood connected with Jermaine Foster (Fresh) and Mohammed Wenn (Goosebumps), as well as the aforementioned Mubanda, and before long they were playing together and creating a brotherhood.  

“Even before the Notic came together I knew a lot of these guys”, said ‘King Handles’ Haywood. “We built a real family bond through streetball. We always kept in touch.” 

Joey Haywood aka ‘King Handles (Courtesy The Notic)

Through the inspiration of Rucker Park and AND1 mixtapes, the guys began to fully understand how talented they were, and how they could create a path for themselves with street basketball.  

From there the documentary moves to a 2001 Hoop It Up event in Vancouver, a 3-on-3 streetball tournament that had several eventual Notic members participate.  

Enter Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux and Kirk Thomas, a pair of recent high school grads with a passion for basketball. Through similar inspiration from AND1 mixtapes, Schaulin-Rioux and Thomas travelled to the Hoop It Up tournament in hopes of getting some footage for their friends.  

The two young filmmakers eventually find Haywood’s team and start filming, sitting in awe at the level of skill and trickery coming from King Handles and his teammates. Seeing as they had nothing to lose, they shyly introduced themselves and asked if they could film a mixtape for them, and that’s when The Notic was born.  

“We were definitely filming before we met those guys for about a year”, said Schaulin-Rioux. “But no one was doing any moves, we’d be excited if we saw a random block. When we got to Hoop it Up and saw Joey’s team we knew these guys were the craziest team we’d ever seen”.  

From the opposite perspective, the players were just excited to have a mixtape created for them, and they happily agreed. 

A little bit down the line the crew’s first mixtape is created: The Notic. The footage wasn’t always the clearest but the talent was undeniable, and the tape began to turn heads within the local streetball community. There wasn’t much infrastructure in Vancouver for street basketball, and so there was opportunity there for The Notic to pioneer the game to new heights.  

Through early internet message boards, Schaulin-Rioux and Thomas spread the tape and it eventually began to make waves worldwide. The Notic quickly became underground celebrities in Vancouver, while making small waves in countries that they could have never even imagined. 

“I was playing street ball for 3 years before the first Notic tape”, said Haywood reflecting. “I was just living in the moment. It was a blessing but I didn’t know it was gonna spread that quick.”

Rory Grace aka Disaster (Courtesy The Notic)

Before long there was even a Junior Notic squad made up of younger players, with one of them being a small white kid from Vancouver: Rory Grace (aka Disaster). He may have been the smallest guy on the court, but Grace had mind-boggling talent, and was able to make his defenders look foolish no matter how bigger or older they were.  

Haywood took him under his wing, and before long Grace become a mainstay member of The Notic.  

From there things started to get more and more surreal for the group, with bigger brands and companies taking notice. AND1 reached out to send them free gear, later leading to a 2002 AND1- sponsored tournament in Seattle where they came in contact with ESPN.  

The hype train continued to roll as they managed to secure that ESPN interview, and followed the televised attention by playing a few games in front of massive crowds. One of the most heartwarming moments of the documentary is where in front of the crazed crowd, the youngster Grace pulls off a series of insane dribble moves to completely embarrass his defender. The crowd swarms the court, and it starts to feel like The Notic is indestructible.  

The bond continues to grow, but back in high school Haywood is being pushed more and more towards the streetball style of play. He was a top recruit and still wanted to attempt playing pro, but coaches were becoming more and more agitated with his flashiness on the court, and this was specifically shown in a high-school all-star game where Haywood was ripped by his coach.  

“Going through that situation on the court helped me”, said Haywood strongly. “I had confidence in my game, but I knew people would always want to put you down. I always believed in myself no matter what. That coach in the all-star game was never gonna stop me.” 


Jermaine Foster aka Fresh (Courtesy Patrick Giang)

With the continued building energy, Haywood returned his focus to streetball where the widespread success of the group led to the creation of The Notic 2. They put more money back into the team with jerseys and branding, and started to become defacto rock stars in the Vancouver area. The Notic 2 eventually releases with a better budget and much better quality, and blows up across the world in streetball communities.  

The Notic were called by EA Sports and brought in to help with hit video game NBA Street Vol. 2, where a large number of their signature moves were put into the game.  

After that, The Notic got a call that every hooper dreams about getting: they were going to be in SLAM Magazine 

“I grew up reading SLAM, SLAM is like the bible of basketball”, said Haywood with joy. “For all of us to be in there it was an absolute blessing”. 

Not only were the players in the final cut, but the two filmmakers Schaulin-Rioux and Thomas made it as well, which was something they couldn’t believe until they actually saw it.  

“I remember me and Kirk couldn’t believe that SLAM was happening”, said Schaulin-Rioux with a laugh. “Kirk kept emailing the lady at SLAM and saying ‘but wait are we in it? Are the two white guys in hoodies in it?’ And they told us yes but we still didn’t believe it.  The idea that Kirk and I, a pair of amateur hoop heads made it was unfathomable”. 

The momentum continued to build in terms of attention, but there wasn’t any real cashflow coming back to the players. The crew was young, and there wasn’t much of a plan on how to develop their brand and make money in the long-term.  

As time went on and they started working on The Notic 3, things began to get increasingly difficult. Some players had graduated and moved away, and others just didn’t have the time anymore to make the necessary commitment, especially considering being in the crew wasn’t paying the bills.  

A few of the players became disgruntled with Schaulin-Rioux and Thomas, feeling as if they were keeping the revenue from the mixtapes for themselves and not splitting it amongst the group.  

Still though, there were transparency issues with more than just money. The documentary details the moment when original Notic member Foster was left out of a SLAM shoot, something that still stuck to him today. He plainly tells Schaulin-Rioux and Thomas while filming Handle with Care years later, just how much that moment hurt him. 

Kirk Thomas & Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux (Courtesy Patrick Giang)

Things came crashing down quickly, and before anyone could blink The Notic crew disbanded, with The Notic 3 never being finished.  

The guys all went their separate ways, with Haywood being the only one to try and continue his basketball dreams. Haywood was a high caliber player, but he realized there wasn’t much money or mainstream notoriety in streetball, and so he tried to transition back into the organized game.  

After competing in a streetball tournament in Halifax, Haywood was offered a scholarship to Saint Mary’s University. He averaged an eye-opening 28.8 PPG and proved that he could dominate in the organized basketball scene, but he was older than much of his university counterparts at the time.  

Still though, Haywood had the opportunity to play oversees and in the NBL Canada for six years, something that he’ll always be thankful for.  

“I would never change my professional basketball experience”, said Haywood proudly. “I got to travel the world, it made me a better basketball player and a better person. It was also nice to prove to myself that I can play at a very high level. I did well, not just okay, so for myself that gave me a lot of confidence”. 

Other members of The Notic struggled without the crew, specifically the young phenom ‘Disaster’ Grace. He ran into some trouble with the law and addiction, and the documentary does an incredible job of detailing his struggles but also showing how he overcame them to gain custody of his children again. It was a standout moment.  

The Notic  Crew Then (Courtesy The Notic)

Flash forward to almost 20 years later and The Notic crew finally re-unite. Apologies are said and burnt bridges are rebuilt, as the entire team comes together to reminisce and appreciate the old days.  

On top of that, SLAM magazine asked to do a reunion piece, and this time the previously absent Foster was included. 

“You really never get to fix a mistake or get a second chance, it’s really rare”, said Schaulin-Rioux on Foster being included the second time around. “So the fact the fact that we got the whole crew together again for SLAM felt like a small miracle. It felt like a dream come true, we got to screen The Notic 3. It’s rare when everyone grows up and you still love all these people; where they all grew up in different ways but everyone is the same. It was magical, I guess I’m gushing but it was special.” 

Schaulin-Rioux mentions The Notic 3, one of the most significant things to happen over the course of the reunion. So many years after the mixtape was unfinished, they were able to dig through the tapes and put it together to have a screening as a group.   

“I never thought Notic 3 would happen”, said Schaulin-Rioux. “Many times, we’d get on the phone and say we would but it felt like it would always be a ‘what if’. I remember at one point going on Instagram and seeing some new streetballers and wondering if the footage would hold up. Then I popped in the old Notic tapes and was like yeah this is still incredible. There’s still so many moves and styles that nobody has done 20 years later.”

The Notic 3 surely holds up, and Schaulin-Rioux says it’s something they’re hoping to officially release this summer.   

Handle with Care ends with the players enjoying The Notic 3 and reflecting on how the crew changed their life. There’s also excerpts included from basketball players around the world speaking on how The Notic influenced them and it crafts the perfect image on just how worldwide the reach was for a group of street basketball players from Vancouver.  

The documentary has a cheerful close, but the real happy ending to the story of The Notic is that the doc happened in the first place. From minimal contact for almost two decades to the creation of The Notic 3 and Handle with Care, there is finally the perfect level of closure for the best streetball players this country has ever seen.   

“[Producer] Ryan Sidhoo pitched the idea about 4 or 5 years ago to do a doc on The Notic”, said Haywood. “He was really the one that made it happen. He hit me up one day and said SLAM wants to be involved, making it 3 times for us. That’s a major accomplishment. To see everyone together again was so special.” 

“It was like déjà vu, it really felt like back in the day again. Now we’re just a little bit older.”

T

The Notic Crew Now (Courtesy Patrick Giang)

19 ATHLETES INVITED TO ATTEND U18 MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM TRAINING CAMP

Canada Basketball announced Wednesday the 19 players invited to attend training camp at Humber College from May 23-June 3, 2022 ahead of the FIBA U18 Men’s Americas Championship 2022.

The FIBA U18 Men’s Americas Championship 2022 will be held June 6-12, 2022 at the Zonkeys Auditorium in Tijuana, Mexico and fans can catch all the action streaming live on Sportsnet Now.

Head Coach Patrick Tatham will lead Canada alongside assistant coaches Shawn Swords and Justin Serresse, who coached alongside him at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2021, as well as a new addition to the staff, Nathan Grant.

“We’re excited to welcome 19 athletes from across the country to Toronto next week to compete for one of the twelve final spots on our team,” said Tatham.  “This training camp will be yet another important step in our journey together as a team as we continue to work together to achieve our goal to win while developing these young men.”

“To be selected to represent your country on the international stage is one of the greatest honours in sport and after a four year hiatus for the U18 age-group due to COVID, we’re looking forward to getting back on the court as we pursue a place on the podium and a berth in the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2023.”

Canada is in Group A along with the hosts Mexico (June 6, time TBD), Argentina (June 7, time TBD) and Brazil (June 8, time TBD).

The top four teams from the FIBA U18 Americas Championship will qualify for the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2023.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be the first FIBA U18 Men’s Americas Championship since Canada hosted the event in 2018 in St. Catharines and captured silver.

Players selected to attend training camp attended a Canada Basketball Men’s High Performance National Team Age-Group Assessment Camp last month.

Canada is currently ranked 4th overall in the FIBA men’s age-group rankings, presented by Nike.

PLAYER INVITES

Vasean Allette

Brendan Amoyaw

Matai Baptiste

Bubu Benjamin

Jordann Dumont

Michael Evbagharu

Elijah Fisher

Dylan Grant

TJ Hurley

KC Ibekwe

Marquese Josephs

Braeden MacVicar

Mathieu Nader-Kolombo

Thomas Ndong

Michael Nwoko

Dante Oliver

David Simon

Koat Thomas

Mikkel Tyne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mississauga, Ontario native has taken the OUA & U SPORTS by storm in his rookie season.   

Rhooms was awarded U SPORTS and the OUA Rookie of the Year for 2021-2022 and selected 20th overall in the CEBL draftby the Scarborough Shooting Stars. Averaging 20 points and 8 rebounds per game last season, he played an integral role in the Ryerson men’s basketball team clinching a playoff berth. Rhooms averaged 31 minutes per game in his rookie season and has already emerged as one of Coach David DeAveiro’s most trusted players. Rhooms made the most of his minutes by making significant impact in games and was rightfully awarded OUA Rookie of the Year.  I asked Rhooms in a recent interview what it meant to him winning the rookie of the year award, he responded, “It was a huge moment for my family and I, it really validated the years of work that my family and I have put in, not only to develop me as a basketball player but as the man that I am today.” 

Rhooms, like many Greater Toronto Area (GTA) kids, picked up a basketball at a young age. Inspired by his father Ronald Rhooms who played basketball at Martin Grove Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke. The younger Rhooms said that his dad taught him everything he knows about basketball. His journey started with a local Oakville AAU team around the age of nine and led to Rhooms being a member of Uplay Canada which is one of the top AAU programs in Canadian basketball.  

Rhooms played his high school basketball at St. Martin Catholic Secondary School under Head Coaches Dr. Brendan Maloney (Grades 9 & 12), Howard Nañes (Grades 10 & 11) and Assistant Coach Errol Patterson throughout his St. Martin career. During his time at St. Martin, he achieved All-Catholic MVP as the best player performing player in this school division. His favorite memory was playing the in the ROPSAA finals in his grade 10 year against St. Marguerite d’Youville Secondary School. Rhooms is a testament to the fact that there is overlooked talent still in the ROPSAA and OFSAA systems. I asked Rhooms why he didn’t transfer early on, as many kids of his talent level do, and he replied “I had a really good situation at St. Martin, I had confidence in my talent and that I could get the exposure that I needed.”

Rhooms’ father was especially proud of him being awarded a ROPSSAA Academic Award (2017-18), which showed Rhooms’ commitment to the classroom as well as to basketball. Unfortunately and sadly, Rhooms’ father Ronald passed away in March 2020 at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rhooms has credited his Dad for his play on the basketball court up to this point and will continue to be inspired & driven by him in the future as his career progresses. 

Later on, he was recruited while playing for Uplay at Nike Tournament by Lincoln Prep Basketball an emerging prep school. Lincoln Prep is coached by Zach Angelini and has had players move on to NCAA Division 1 schools including Jefferson Koulibaly who plays for the Washington State Cougars. Rhooms made the decision to transfer to test his talent against OSBA competition before attending University. Unfortunately, Rhooms was never able to compete in his final year at Lincoln Prep as the season was curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic.  

I first watched Rhooms at the University level when I attended a game at Ryerson University vs. the Queen’s Gaels back in the fall of 2021. Ryerson had a tough set that weekend and would drop both games, however Rhooms’ poise and leadership presence stood out. I assumed he was a transfer from another school because of his build and playing style, only to learn that he was a true first year freshman playing beyond his years. Ryerson has consistently had a top national basketball program for male and female athletes, and it’s clear that Aaron was brought in with the long term forecast in mind. I spoke to Ryerson Men’s Basketball Head Coach DeAveiro after that game and he commented that this Ryerson team was in transition, with a lot of rookies and players coming off of injury and would need a few months or even a full season to develop a rhythm. 

Rhooms was a big part of the team finding that rhythm late, he said that he hit his stride coming out of the pandemic break and really took his game to a new level. Rhooms is currently preparing for the upcoming CEBL season with the Shooting Stars in Toronto’s east end. Rhooms’ faith and family values are very important to him, and evident in the way he conducts himself on and off the court. He is very disciplined with his workout and diet regimen and is expecting good things coming out of the summer. Rhooms is a great ambassador of Canadian basketball with his talent and maturity and looks to inspire youth in the Toronto area. 

As Canada basketball enters the post pandemic phase the home-grown talent has begun to surface again. With U sports players and OSBA players declaring for the upcoming NBA Draft it seems we have really hit a stride as a basketball community. This speaks to not only the hard work that players like Rhooms are putting in, but also the coaches and surrounding basketball community. 

Aaon Rhooms vs. UofT (Photos Courtesy Jason Seto)

Special editorial by Arjun Ram for On Point Basketball

What a season it was — and what a way to end it off. 

Just when you thought Game 7 of the Raptors-Philadelphia series was going to be a tight one, the 76ers assumed control and steamrolled their way to the next round.

It was such a drastic shift of momentum. Suddenly, a season full of success closed so sourly.

But hey, there’s still a lot to reflect on. Although our guys may be sent home early, this year deserves to be looked back on. 

With that being said, here’s what I can take away from the Raptors’ 27th NBA season. 

Scottie Barnes is the future of this team:

Let’s start on a high note: Scottie Barnes is next up. 

I approached the decision to select Barnes in the NBA Draft with trepidation. I believed Masai Ujiri was going to pick former Gonzaga star Jalen Suggs.

 But it was evident from the start that Ujiri made the right decision. Barnes was drafted fourth overall by Toronto, and from the moment he stepped foot on the court, he engulfed the fanbase with promise, doing everything from scoring, assisting, and even making an effort on the defensive end.

Barnes averaged 15 points per game during the season, eventually being rewarded with the Rookie of the Year. 

His ankle injury that persisted throughout the first round of the playoffs was nerve-racking, but it was promising to see his determination. Scottie played most of the games and exuded confidence with his leadership. 

While there is room for improvement, like ameliorating his shooting, Barnes has time to develop and shine amongst a younger core. 

His electric personality – and joyous smile – tells me he enjoys being here. It won’t be long before our team will revolve around his leadership and skill – something to look forward to.

The centre position may require changes:

 The centre position has been one of difficulty for the Toronto Raptors over the last few years. We had our run in 2019 with two reliable, experienced big-men in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.

Fast forward three seasons later, and our centres are mostly young. The veteran is Khem Birch, whom we acquired halfway through last year.

Yes, Chris Boucher has been a part of this organization for years, but his inconsistency throughout the season has raised an integral question: should the Raptors develop their centres or acquire a more prominent one.

I’m not forgetting Precious Achiuwa. While his offensive game is polarizing, his interior defence is not to reckon with.

But I can’t help but wonder how the organization is going to tackle the centre position. 

On one hand, you can continue to develop the younger big men you have. Achiuwa averaged 10 points during the playoffs, and this was his first season. 

But on the other hand, the Toronto Raptors can enter themselves into the market. It was rumoured in early April that the Raptors and Dallas Mavericks were interested in three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner and All-Star Rudy Gobert if Utah would make him available this summer.

Other centres available include Mitchell Robinson of the Knicks; Jusif Nurkic of the Blazers; and Ivica Zubac of the Clippers, who’s on a Team Option.

It wouldn’t hurt if the organization had a peek at what’s available. This offseason will be an interesting one.

The Raptors won the Gary Trent. Jr – Norman Powell trade

Gary Trent  Jr. is just a cool guy. 

It’s like he’s always exhibiting swagger, whether he just hit an elusive shot over a defender or crossed his opponent for an easy layup.

Trent Jr. was traded at the deadline last year. The Raptors gave away fan-favourite Norman Powell to the Blazers to acquire him. 

At first, there was a lot of speculation on whether they made the right decision. Trent Jr. didn’t play much in Portland, nor had he assumed an integral role for any team.

But the Raptors quickly changed that, implementing his quickness, and scoring capabilities into a youthful lineup. This past season, Trent. Jr averaged 18.3 points per game — a career-best. 

In the playoffs, he was resilient, combating a sickness in the first game and eventually contributing to a few major wins.

He can only get better from here, and I for one am excited to see what his future holds. 

OG Anunoby has risen to his potential

The regular season is where you build up your legacy. The playoffs are where you certify it. 

OG Anunoby had a great regular season but enhanced his play as the playoffs arrived. 

While he may seem mellow and shy, he is nothing but aggressive and tenacious on the court. OG can do everything from hit clutch threes or slam it home and capitalize on the win.

Anunoby averaged 17 points per game through the Philadelphia series and made his presence felt on the defensive end. 

It was only his second playoffs, and with how the team is currently trending, it won’t be his last. 

He signed a four-year, 72-million-dollar contract, officially enacted this past season.

The Raptor fan base remains undefeated

Okay, this is a personal takeaway.

As Game 6 drew close and Nick Nurse began emptying his bench, the crowd did the opposite of what Philadelphia fans did after Game 5: They cheered.

It was reminiscent of Game 6 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. As the Cavs began celebrating their Eastern Conference Finals win, the Toronto crowd passionately rallied behind the home team.

The fans have been through a lot. Last year, they were unable to watch the Raptors play at home. But this season was a reward, and the fans showed up. 

Their energy was unmatched throughout the season; the Raptors benefited from the fandom.

We The North forever.

New documentary short film traces high school basketball star’s 
return to the court after life-saving heart transplant  
Toronto, ON (April 29th, 2022) – Today marks the launch of Heart and Sole: The Dylan Kalambay Story, directed by Michael Hamilton (Anyone’s Game docu series about high school basketball powerhouse Orangeville Prep; Nash about two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash) produced by Game Seven Media  and presented by Canadian Blood Services, in association with Ridley College.
In November of 2020, Toronto high school basketball star Dylan Kalambay’s world turned upside down. He experienced heart failure at the young age of 16. Over the next six months he had open heart surgery and not long after, thanks to the generosity of an organ donor and their family, Dylan received a life-saving heart transplant. In September of 2021, after a long and challenging recovery, Dylan stepped back onto the court in his last year of high school at Ridley College to pursue his dream of obtaining an NCAA Division 1 basketball scholarship and becoming the first player ever to do so with a donated heart.
As Dylan pursues his dreams on the court, off of it, he continues to try and comprehend his second chance at life, his new identity as a basketball player and transplant recipient, and a desire to connect with his donor family and to learn more about the person that lost their life in order for him to continue his. “I thought it would be inspiring to share my journey with those who might be going through challenges or going through the same thing as me,” says the 6’9 Toronto-born basketball star of Congolese descent, who’s played for Canada Basketball’s U16 national team and for highly ranked AAU basketball club Canada Elite.
“I think this film might connect with people coming from all different walks of life, demographics and cultures, who might not know about the heart transplant process.” Ridley College’s Assistant Head of School Jay Tredway adds that “watching an elite student athlete like Dylan endure this unimaginable illness and surgery and then demonstrate the determination and pure will he has shown to get back to competition has been truly inspiring. Dylan’s experience is real life. I would hope that seeing his story and learning about the good that can come from being a donor will stir more people to register and save lives.”

Watch: Heart and Sole-The Dylan Kalambay Story HERE

Thanks to the generosity of an organ donor and their family, Dylan received a life-saving heart transplant. In September of 2021, after a long and challenging recovery, Dylan stepped back onto the court in his last year of high school at Ridley College to pursue his dream of obtaining a Division 1 scholarship and becoming the first player ever to do so with a donated heart. Canadian Blood Services is grateful to Dylan and his family for sharing their journey and ultimately for recognizing the great need for raising awareness about the powerful impact of organ donation and encouraging families to learn about and talk about this life-saving gift. Produced by Game Seven Media in association with Ridley College.

About Game Seven Media: 

Game Seven Media (G7M) is a creative production company that develops and produces sport-centric and athlete driven content. Drawing from the unique sports and production experience of its founders Kyle McCutcheon and Chris Koras, G7M connects viewers to the world of sport through authentic storytelling and character driven narratives.  Kyle and Chris left Canada on NCAA hockey scholarships and even played against each other, but later partnered to pursue sports content opportunities. After working in Los Angeles for a few years, Kyle returned to Toronto to begin producing. After completing a law degree, Chris remained in California, where he currently helms G7M’s Los Angeles based operation in addition to running one of the largest baseball player agencies in sports, REP1. G7M’s previous credits include The Northern Touch for TSN, about the intense fan culture of Toronto FC of the MLS Soccer League, and the Canadian Screen Awards nominated Anyone’s Game for CBC, about the hugely successful high school basketball program at Orangeville Prep, that counts NBA basketball star and Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray as alumni. Game Seven Media is currently in post-production on an unscripted series with Netflix US.

About Canadian Blood Services: 

Canadian Blood Services operates with a national scope and infrastructure that makes it unique within the Canadian health care system. In the domain of organs and tissues Canadian Blood Services manages programs that facilitate interprovincial organ sharing and works in collaboration with provincial programs and partners to improve the organ donation and transplantation system. Initiatives led by Canadian Blood Services include the development of leading practices, professional education, public and professional awareness campaigns, and system performance data collection, analysis and reporting. Learn more about organ and tissue donation in Canada at blood.ca/organs-tissues. For more information email: [email protected] or call 1-877-709-7773.

About Ridley College:

Ridley College is a private boarding and day university-preparatory school located in St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada, 20 miles from Niagara Falls. The school confers the OSSD (Ontario Secondary School Diploma) and the IB (International Baccalaureate) diploma programme. Ridley is one of the oldest private schools in Canada, and has the largest boarding program in Ontario, with students representing over 61 countries.

Media Contact 

Dalton Higgins

[email protected]

437 256 2576

@daltonhiggins5

The Toronto Raptors season came to a screeching halt on Thursday night at Scotiabank Arena in a blowout 132-97 loss.  

Even though they trailed the series 3-0, back-to-back wins in Games 4 & 5 gave fans hope that the team would be able to accomplish the impossible, but the climb proved to be to steep.  

The loss is disappointing, especially considering it came to a now-fierce rival in the Philadelphia 76ers. Led by Joel Embiid and recent playoff drama, it’s become very apparent that these two teams and fanbases particularly are not fond of each other, and so this elimination is certainly tough to swallow.  

Still, the team deserves a lot of credit for even taking it to a Game 6. Only 14 teams in NBA history have forced six games after falling behind 3-0, and it would’ve been incredibly easy for the Raptors to just mail it in and start booking the flights to Cancun. The one guarantee with this Toronto team under Nick Nurse is that you’re going to get effort, and that’s exactly what they provided, the skill and talent on the other side was just too much to overcome.  

The Raptors were a trendy upset pick sure, but the reality is that the two organizations are in very different places. This season is a complete failure for Philadelphia if they don’t reach the Conference Finals, whereas no one even expected the Raptors to make the playoffs. 

Luckily for Raptors fans this team has been resilient all season long, it didn’t just start in this series. After a disastrous season in Tampa Bay last year where they essentially were forced to play 82 away games, the Raps had to return home and deal with a plethora of injuries and Covid-19-related absences right off the bat. They were unable to field consistent starting lineups and had the worst bench depth in the NBA, and yet they were able to keep things afloat, never dropping below a record of 11-14 and eventually evening out at 23-23 before going on a big winning streak. Once the team was actually healthy, they quickly proved that they were better than many thought. Vegas predicted the Raptors win total this season to be 34.5, a disrespectful number that was easily eclipsed. At 48-34 and the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference, this team overachieved and was one of the most fun Raptors teams to watch in the past decade. They had no expectations and could play freely, and that’s exactly what they did.  

Things look promising on a player-to-player basis as well. Despite some inconsistencies which can be partially chalked to injury, Fred VanVleet had a great year and made his first all-star appearance. Gary Trent Jr. had a fantastic season where he continued to evolve, and is one of the Raptors most untouchable pieces at 23 years old. OG Anunoby was brilliant when he was on the court, but once again injuries were an issue. If he can stay healthy the sky is the limit for him, but he’s going to have to prove he can do that. Scottie Barnes’ season speaks for itself, he’s the Rookie of the Year and has the potential to be one of, if not the best Raptors of all time one day. It’s early, but that’s how good this kid is. Precious Achiuwa looked outstanding down the stretch and he’s only 22 years old, Canadian Chris Boucher (unrestricted free agent) had a rough start, but looked great near the end of the season and into the playoffs.  

There’s a lot of positives to take from the players, and the even better news is the positives you can take from the front office. You hear it all across the league: “the Raptors have one of the best front offices in the association”, and nothing will change on that front. With Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster still at the reigns, this Raptors rebuild will likely continue on the fast track. Nothing is off limits for this front office, including a blockbuster move in the summer. Would anyone be surprised?  

Sure, the ending was disappointing, but after the disappointment that 2020-2021 was, it’s nice to say that Toronto Raptors basketball is fun again. With another year of development for this young roster and another offseason for Masai and Bobby to work their magic, Raptors fans should be thrilled for what’s to come next season, and pleased with the fight this current edition of the team showed all year long.  

On Point Scouting Exclusive by OPS Scouting Director Josue Sedjro

The first annual Pro Can Invitational event took place this past weekend at The Playground Durham in Oshawa on Day 1 and Durham College on Day 2 two and showcased a lot of under-the-radar talent. On Point Scouting (OPS) took in the event and breaks down five intriguing players from the Combine games of Day one. For the purpose of contextualizing the analysis below, OPS defines the level competition according to the following tiering system for non-NBA leagues: 

Tier 1  Euroleague, Eurocup, ACB, NBA Summer League 
Tier 2  Spanish, French, Bundesliga, Top Greece teams, Top Israel teams, Italy, Top Russian teams, China, NBL 
Tier 3  Adriatic, Israel, BBL, CEBL, Russia, top Belgium team 
Tier 4  Poland, Denmark, Finland, Portugal, Romania 
Tier 5  Netherlands, NBL Canada 

Maxime Boursiquot 6’5″ G/F (University of Ottawa) 

Projected Role: Secondary Ball-Handler, Combo Wing 

Performance: Boursiquot stood out in both games with a range of skillsets. He displayed an ability to put the ball on the deck and attack the basket. He shot the ball fairly well despite a slow release speed, but was clearly at his best attacking the rim. Defensively, he made multiple effort plays and use his physicality to stonewall opponents’ drives to the rim. He showed his versatility and used his big frame to swallow defensive rebounds. He played with intensity and consistency throughout the scrimmage and combine games. Overall, Boursiquot made an impression on OPS that he may be able to succeed as a role player for a team in leagues such as the Adriatic League, Novo Basquete Brazil or the CEBL. 

Jordan Lyons 6’7″ G/F (Simon Fraser University) 

Projected Role: Tertiary ball-handler, Combo Wing 

Performance: Lyons made an immediate impression on OPS with his frame and athletic tools. He may have been the best pure athlete at the Pro Can Invitational. Left-handed, he made use of his tools in transition but struggled finishing with touch at the rim, especially in traffic. He displayed good length in passing lanes, but effort waxed and waned too much to be a true dominant defensive force. Overall, Lyons stood out to OPS with his raw tools and projects to be a role player in first division leagues such as in Portugal, Finland and Mexico. 

Jayden Coke 6’6″ G (Vancouver Island) 

Projected Role: Tertiary ball-handler, Combo Guard 

Performance: Coke did a good job running out and creating easy baskets from himself. He was at his best when playing off teammates’ penetration and attacking closeouts. He ran into trouble when he tried to create for himself off isolation plays as his first step and decision-making were uneven. Defensively, he used his length to disrupt the point of attack and deflecting passes. His energy and activity can negate bad positioning but, in this environment, his length made up for a lot of errors. Overall, Coke projects to be a role player in first division leagues such as in Portugal, Finland and Mexico. 

Quinton Gray: 6’3″ G (Queen’s University) 

Projected Role: Secondary Ball-handler, Combo guard 

Performance: Gray shot the ball well and provided a constant gravity element on and off the ball. He managed to penetrate the teeth of the defence and draw attention to kick it out to open teammates. He did a good job running point making use of his vision and his body to create separation and maintain advantages that he created on the ball. Defensively, he competed and used the tools given to him. Overall, Gray projects as a capable player with potential to compete in the Adriatic League, Novo Basquete Brazil or the CEBL. 

Eric Rwahwire: 6’5″ F (University of Toronto) 

Role: Tertiary ball-handler, Wing 

Performance: Rwahwire has probably the most interesting frame as a wing of the Pro Can Invitational and left the impression that he can add even more definition to his body. He can play on and off the ball but is more effective attacking off the catch. He showed great dexterity, finishing on both sides of the rim, while unlocking deceptive speed. Defensively, he used his frame to defend a couple bigs at times to interesting results. Overall, Rwahwire projects as a player capable of competing in leagues such as Portugal, Finland and Mexico. 

Pro Can Invitational Day 2 –Canadian Professional Prospects Game Scouting Recap

Day 2 of the Pro Can Invitational saw the Canadian Professional Prospects Game take place at Durham College Sunday evening. OPS took in the game and highlighted 3 players that stood out in different ways. 

Best all-around performer: Maxime Bousiquot 6’5″ G/F (University of Ottawa) 

Maxime Boursiquot stood out in this game with his defensive work. He displayed great stoutness and strength defending a couple drives, stole the ball in the backcourt for a lay-up and even blocked a couple shots on the perimeter. Similar to the Saturday games, his conditioning was at a top-tier level and it fueled a lot of his defensive effort. He displayed good basketball IQ with good cutting and a clear understanding of his role within offensive sets. Clearly, he can be successful right off the jump in a support role while working to develop his game off the dribble and his shot. He finished the game with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 blocks, 1 steal on 8-12 from the field and won MVP honors. Include Interview link when posted 

Best athlete: Jordan Lyons 6’7″ G/F (Simon Fraser University) 

Jordan Lyons certainly staked his claim as the best athlete present in this game. He got going early by attacking the rim early in the game and with force. The open floor is where he is at his best and where he can unleash his athleticism. While his shot still requires work, he can attack the rim when given an advantage. Defensively, his athleticism allowed him to close down openings and creases in the defence very quickly. He finished with 19 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and a block on 9-15 from the field. 

Best scorer: Malcolm Glanville 6’4″ G (University of Guelph) 

Malcolm Glanville shot the ball early and often but provided a spark for Team White team when the team struggled offensively. He is clearly a rhythm shooter that is more comfortable on the ball than off the ball. He found his teammates at times in passing situations when the read was clear and open. He showed good touch on his runners but was susceptible to length and athleticism defensively. He also showed good balance on his shot off the dribble. Defensively, he was pesky on the ball-handler in over-and-drop defensive coverage. He finished with 16 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists on 6-15 shooting from the field. 

Photos courtesy Faz Visions 

Special feature written by Ronny Muskitele of Skyline Sports Global

Oshawa, ON – The inaugural Pro Canadian Invitational took place at the Playground Durham on Saturday, April 23, 2022, showcasing the best of Canada’s graduating college and university basketball ballers in one spot.  

Founded by Kevin Barnes Director of Business development for the Playground Global. This event quickly became a massive collaboration amongst Canadian basketball stakeholders and included organizations lead by influential figures like Drew Ebanks of On Point Basketball.  

Canadian Basketball continues to grow year by year across the country, but the work isn’t only being done by the Toronto Raptors and our Olympians but on every level. From the grassroots level, high school, prep schools, colleges, and universities, everyone seems to play a part in growing the game of basketball in Canada.  

It’s not often players from NCAA Division 1, U SPORTS, and CCAA get to compete against each other under the same roof. Thirty-two players suited up on day one and were assigned to specific coaches and separated by positions.  

Omar Miles current CCAA national championship head coach with the Humber Hawks, and Bill Crowdis founding partner of Euroball.ca were present. NBA shooting coaches Dave Love and Nathan Slegers were testing their new shot track data system with the Pro Can athletes, just to name a few.

Team White (Coaches Chris Rao & Danielle Boiago)

The organizing committee identified and invited coaches and players from all over North America to form a memorable experience. Prominent brands like Gatorade, The Closet Inc and Xeist came on board and added fuel to an already strong foundation.  

The Pro Canadian Invitational at its core value was introduced to increase participation, create jobs, and provide a platform for collaboration within the Canadian basketball landscape. 

Coaches from across the country came together to form a memorable experience for the top Canadian players. Coach Jeremy Kayeye of Ryerson University, Coach Mike De Giorgio of Royal Crown Academy (formerly of the University of Toronto), Coach Christopher Rao of Niagara college, and Danielle Boiago of McMaster University each had a team of eight players that were set to compete against one another.  

With each player looking to make the best impression on the coaches, scouts, and agents in attendance, the level of intensity was terrific from the start. From 20-point blowouts to buzzer-beaters to force overtime, the games were must-see. With all the talent level, it wasn’t easy for coaches and scouts to pick the top players that would compete against one another in the Canadian Pro Prospects Game at Durham College the following day.  

 The camaraderie among basketball professionals in Canada is what helps the game flourish and grow rapidly. The various media present all had the chance to cover players, conduct interviews, and share memorable moments with one another. When it was all said and done, every player, coach, media member, scout, and agent seemed to have left with a smile, as day one couldn’t have gone any better.  

Team Black (Coaches Mike De Giorgio & Jeremie Kayeye)

On Sunday, the top players selected took the court for the Canadian Pro Prospects Game, and the four coaches were separated into two coaching staffs. Team White was coached by coach Rao, and Boiago and Team Black were coached by Coach Kayeye and De Giorgio. Ottawa Gee-Gees forward -Maxime Boursiquot started the game on fire for Team Black scoring six of the first nine points. The high flyer from Simon Fraser University – Jordan Lyons, got the crowd going early on with two big dunks for Team White. Despite the early effort from Lyons and Malcolm Glanville, Team Black was too much to handle offensively shooting 62.5 percent from the field after the first quarter. This helped them take an early 10-point lead. Team Black moved the ball well all game long and never let up. The total team effort helped them take a 20-point lead to end the third period. A late push by Lyons and Glanville, who cut the lead to 13, was not enough. Godwin Boahen closed out the game with a free throw in the Elam Ending finish as Team Black won the first Pro-Can Invitational Canadian Pro Prospects Game, 95-81.  

Boursiquot was named the Performer of the Game, finishing with a game-high 17 points (66% FG), six rebounds, and three blocks.  

“It was a great experience for guys to get exposure and experience,” said Boursiquot. “I had a fun weekend. I got to compete, got to meet new guys, and play with some old guys. I think overall, it was great!  

Overall, this was a memorable event and a stepping stone to the growing opportunities and game of basketball for Canadians. Coach Kevin Barnes, Drew Ebanks and the organizing committee did a phenomenal job planning this event. Everyone benefited, from players to coaches, media members, scouts, and agents. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for these bright young stars. 

Canadian Pro Prospects Game Top Performer Maxime Boursiquot-Ottawa Gee Gees

 

Player-Athletes Essays

Ibrahim Ngom 6’3″ G Bishop’s University

Ibrahim Ngom was chosen by Bloodline Sport Management to participate in the first ever Pro Canadian Invitational combine. The 6’3 guard from Montreal, QC wrapped up his senior year at Bishop University. He led the Bishop Gaiters in scoring and assists this year, averaging 16.2 PPG and 5.2 assists per game. After his brilliant season, Ngom was selected for the RSEQ First Team All-Star. He capped off his final U SPORTS game recording 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Ibrahim is the only RSEQ player, male or female, to record a triple double this season. His journey to becoming an RSEQ First Team All-Star was far from easy. Growing up alongside his twin brother Djibril in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Montreal, Parc-Ex was a challenge in itself. Park Ex is known to have the highest concentration of immigrants (61%) and visible minority groups (63%), among Montreal’s various neighborhoods. After being labeled a “Troublemaker” during his youth, he and his twin brother were sent back to Senegal, Africa to “straighten up.” The transition opened the Ngom brothers to an entire new reality and culture shock.. Although Park Ex is considered one of the poorest neighborhoods in Montreal, it didn’t come close to the struggle Ibrahim saw people in Senegal endure. He and his twin Djibril made a vow then and there that they would no longer take their opportunities in Canada for granted. As he returned to Montreal in grade 9 after spending two years in Africa he understood the power of opportunities, education and sports. He went on to become one of a few in his neighborhood to not only graduate high school, but also enroll in college and become a student-athlete from Vanier College, followed by Brock University where he obtained his Bachelors of Sport Management degree and later transferred to Bishops University to finish his University career. “If I can teach anything to the younger generation I’d say stay the course, keep the right people around you and although there’s ups and downs keep going through it. Everything will be fine. The longer you’re persistent and consistent you’re going to get the results you want.” Ibrahim’s story is one of persistence, staying the course and hard work. He hopes to use this opportunity given by the Pro Canadian Invitational combine to further his chances of playing professional basketball.

Jason Scully 6’4″ F University of Victoria

“The perfect opportunity” as Jason Scully summarized Day 1 of the Pro Can Invitational combine. The 6’4 forward from Vancoucer, BC was in shock after receiving a message from Coach Kevin Barnes who organized the Pro Can Invitational combine to attend the inaugural event at the Playground Durham location. The Vancouver native, recently concluded his senior year at The University of Victoria. Unfortunately, Jason sat out his last two seasons. One being canceled by the Covid-19 global pandemic and this past season he was unable to suit up due to injury. The Pro Can Invitational combine was the first time Scully played competitive 5 on 5 basketball in nearly two years. “You need to find the lessons that injuries are teaching you.” says Jason. “Everything happens for a reason even if it’s hard to see it at the moment. I’m trying to embrace it and embrace that it’s making me a better person in basketball and in life in general.” His passion for the game kept his drive going despite all the adversities he dealt with. Scully has been open to sharing the struggles he has been dealing with the past few years as he was forced to sit down. He believes it made him a stronger person and was proud to be able to showcase his 3 and D game in front of important basketball decision makers.

“I’d like people to see if tough things are happening, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It was a lot of darkness for 6 months not really knowing when good things were going to start happening. But I think this was the first step of a good break for me. Hopefully this is the start of good things happening for me.” The first of its kind event has already been a life-changing opportunity for players like Jason Scully. It’ll be exciting to see where this opportunity lands him. Besides wanting to become a professional basketball player, Jason is also taking his Masters of Arts in Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria. He hopes to continue helping the world in any way he can and being a good person by playing his part in helping society flourish.

Malik Irwin 6’5″ F University of Manitoba (FREE AGENT)

“Never Give Up.” is the message that Malik Irwin spreads to all those around him. He is the definition of More Than An Athlete. After taking a year off playing professional basketball for the KB Trepca of the Kosovo Superleague he reached out to Coach Kevin Barnes who organized the Pro Can Invitational to inquire about an opportunity to showcase his skills in front of decision makers.

Spending one year playing professionally in Eastern Europe, he understood the importance of being decisive to be a successful basketball player. This experience helped him during the combine to play at his pace and be efficient. Alongside being a basketball player, Irwin is a full-time entrepreneur owning his own winery called Maya-Jo named after his little sister who he credits as one of his biggest inspirations. He also opened his own beauty store in Winnipeg, Manitoba named Ninety Five Beauty. It’s a spot for not only men to get their hair done, but women to get their nails and hair done as well, while enjoying a great atmosphere and wine.

“Find your passion and lean into it. It’s not easy, but if you’re having fun and you’re passionate about it, you’re going to show up everyday. Same thing with basketball, you’re going to miss shots but you’ll show up everyday because you’re passionate about it.” Says Irwin.

After experiencing his second Torn ACL while playing in his Final season at the University of Manitoba. Irwin credits that injury for being the reason he was capable of setting Big goals and achieving them. He promised himself that he would become a professional basketball player after tearing his ACL and achieved it the very next year. From that point on, he knew he could accomplish anything he put his mind to. He uses the lessons he’s learned as an athlete to help him be a successful entrepreneur. He hopes to build his wine to become world-known and be known as the pop-culture of wine. Rather be on the basketball court or the business field, Irwin has put himself in a position to succeed in both and we look forward to watching his growth and success on and off the court

Prince Oduro 6’8″ F University of Detroit Mercy

Prince Oduro’s presence was hard to miss at the inaugural Pro Canadian Invitational combine. The 6’8 big man concluded his Senior year for Division 1’s Detroit Mercy Titans basketball program. Oduro is the perfect example of what we see isn’t always the reality of things. Although Prince’s entire community and city was proud of him making it into a Division 1 school, it was a bittersweet feeling for him. He wasn’t comfortable leaving his family behind during those times, but understood that he was leaving for a bigger purpose and to make something out of his life. Oduro has often been misunderstood but always remained true to himself and understood that his circumstances weren’t the same as the norm.

The Pro Canadian Invitational was a great opportunity for Prince to change any misunderstanding that has been associated with him. He viewed the opportunity as another chance to prove that he’s not only a talent to be recognized but someone of high character. Growing up in Jane and Wilson neighborhood in Toronto, Ontario it was not easy to beat the odds. He’s one of few from his neighborhood to pursue an education after High School and make it into a Division 1 school. He understands the weight and pressure that was put on him and embraces it. He along his friends founded a clothing brand called “Havoc City.” It sheds light on the fast paced life of Toronto and opportunities that lie in the city. The brand has grown to be something that his entire community embraced and followed.

Oduro hopes to play professionally one day and viewed this opportunity as the perfect first step. He understands how fortunate he’s been during his basketball career and embraces each new chapter. Oduro was a part of the 2017 U19 Canadian Team who won the first FIBA gold medal in an international competition, ever. “I just want to inspire people from my community and embrace my leadership role to inspire others that anything is possible.”

We look forward to seeing Prince Oduro’s continue to strive on the court and off the court with his “Havoc City” brand and all his other ventures.

Photos Courtesy Faz Visions

The Toronto Raptors kept their playoff dreams alive on Monday night with a 103-88 victory in Philadelphia.  

The scoreline may not suggest a blowout, but the Raptors were in control for the entirety of the game, keeping the lead to around double-digits for a majority of the second half.  

Toronto now trail the series 3-2, becoming only the 14th team in NBA history to force a Game 6 after trailing 3-0. Only three teams have ever forced a Game 7 after losing the first three games, and no team in NBA history has ever fully completed the comeback.  

The Raptors looked extremely impressive on both sides of the ball despite All-Star Fred VanVleet being out for the foreseeable future with a hip-flexor injury. VanVleet had been playing injured for the entirety of the playoffs and the Sixers are a bad matchup for him, meaning the Raptors actually look better defensively with him out of the lineup. That doesn’t mean Toronto is better without him in general, just that they are able to matchup better in this series with a long lineup that has Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes at point guard.  

The opening quarter was a back-and-forth affair with neither team shooting the ball particularly well. Both defences looked stingy, and it was noticeable from the jump that Joel Embiid’s injured finger was bothering him. The second frame was where the Raptors were really able to take defensive control, holding the 76ers to 14 points and forcing a plethora of turnovers that led to crucial transition buckets. Toronto led by 13 at the break, and the Philly fans turned quickly, booing their home team off the floor. It was a lifeless performance from the 76ers that didn’t get much better in the third. They were able to cut the deficit to nine, but it never seemed as if the Raptors lost control. There were a few times in the fourth where Philadelphia were able to cut the lead to seven and get the crowd back in the game, but the Raptors were able to reply with timely buckets every time, and preserved their lead to the final buzzer where they walked away as 103-88 winners.  

Pascal Siakam backed up an impressive Game 4 performance with another outstanding effort, leading the Raptors with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Gary Trent Jr. was crucial in VanVleet’s absence scoring 16 points, while OG Anunoby had 16 of his own with a few timely scores late in the fourth. Barnes was a difference maker as per usual, scoring 12 points alongside 8 rebounds and 4 assists. The Raptors needed a spark from the bench and they got one from Precious Achiuwa, who continued his excellent run of form with 17 big points and 7 boards. Canadian Chris Boucher contributed with 6 points, 4 rebounds and 2 big blocks while fellow Canuck Khem Birch had 7 on 3/6 from the field.  

Philadelphia’s offence was completely dominated on the night, as MVP candidate Embiid led the way with just 20, a low tally for a player of his calibre. The finger is obviously a legitimate excuse for Embiid, but partner-in-crime James Harden is without a similar alibi, struggling once again with 15 points on 4/11 from the floor. Tobias Harris finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds, while former Raptor Danny Green had 14. Tyrese Maxey continued to cool off after his red-hot first two games, scoring just 12 points to go with 4 assists. The 76ers got little to nothing from their bench in this one, amassing just 11 bench points with no player individually scoring more than 3.  

The Sixers still lead the series, but the momentum is entirely with the Raptors right now. Nick Nurse has found a defensive scheme that is working brilliantly, and the 76ers are without much of an offensive threat. Embiid is injured, Harden is struggling, Maxey has cooled off and Harris is unable to do the job alone. Add with the history of Doc Rivers being unable to close out a playoff series, it’s starting to feel like there’s a chance the Raptors could pull off the impossible. 

The Raptors will continue their quest to be the first ever team to come back from down 3-0 on Thursday night as they head back home for Game 6 at Scotiabank Arena.  

GAME STATS 

Toronto: 

Siakam – 23 PTS 10 REB 7 AST 

Achiuwa – 17 PTS 7 REB 0 AST 

Anunoby – 16 PTS 5 REB 4 AST 

Philadelphia: 

Embiid – 20 PTS 11 REB 4 AST 

Harris – 16 PTS 7 REB 4 AST 

Harden – 15 PTS 2 REB 7 AST