Hoop Dreams and On Point Basketball is proud to partner with Sportsnet to produce NBA Draft Ready featuring Rexdale, Ontario’s Eugene Omoruyi. Here is episode 2 which allows the viewers to “Relive the Highs and Lows of the 2021 NBA Draft Night with Canadian Eugene Omoruyi”
Special thanks to Sportsnet, Donnovan Bennett, Eugene Omoruyi, the Omoruyi family, Chris Smalling, Michael Simonetta Jr., Jason Dam & Tenfold Productions, Charlie Graham, our colleagues at Hoopdreams including Adrian Fenty, Michelle Kast and Julia Martin for making this collaboration possible and a huge success! Look out for more great content from the Hoopdreams/On Point Basketball tandem!
Photo by: Charlie Graham
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:
HASHTAGS: #snownprovecanada #onpointbasketball #letsplay #kawarthabasketball
Damon Browne, Player Identification & Team Liaison
Bill Crowdis, Commissioner
Drew Ebanks, Media, Content & Scouting Director
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.
The Toronto Raptors bounced back after a disappointing season opener with a big 115-83 win against the Boston Celtics on Friday evening.
Raptors 4th overall selection Scottie Barnes played well last time out against Washington, but took it up a level in this one, carrying Toronto offensively during multiple stretches of the game and swarming ball-handlers on the defensive end.
The first quarter started out cagey, even as both teams looked to find footing while struggling to shoot the basketball. Turnovers began to hurt the Celtics in the second quarter, and the Raptors took advantage with fast break points back the other way. Heading into the third frame with a four point lead, the Raptors found their stride, locking in on defence and attacking the basket on offence, forcing the officials to make calls. Toronto dominated the third by a score of 33-17, and carried that complete control into the fourth where they were able to fight off an early quarter comeback opportunity from Boston. The Raptors eventually got to empty the bench near the end of the game with a comfortable cushion, and ended up walking away with an impressive 32-point victory.
The aforementioned Barnes led the Raptors in scoring on Friday night, finishing with a career high 25 points on 11/17 shooting to go with 13 rebounds and 2 assists. The double-double was impressive, but what may have been even more impressive was Barnes’ composure and confidence level in what was just his second NBA game. Gary Trent Jr. caught fire in the second half and finished with 20 points, 3 rebounds, an assist and 4 steals. It was a crucial performance for Trent as the second-leading scorer, as stars Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby had their second straight game with serious shooting struggles. VanVleet shot 3/10 on the night while Anunoby shot just 4/18. The Raptors dominated on the glass which has been rare as of late, and more importantly made their free throws, finishing 21/21 from the stripe.
The Boston Celtics didn’t have a scorer with 20+ on the night, with the closest being Jayson Tatum’s 18 points in 30 minutes. He also had 6 rebounds and 4 assists, which could have been higher had he not been in foul trouble. Al Horford finished with an 11-point 11-rebound double-double, while Josh Richardson finished with 12 points on 4/7 shooting off of the bench. The biggest issue for Boston on the night was sloppy offensive play, as they had no answer for Toronto’s increasingly stingy defence; finishing with 25 turnovers.
There has been a lot made of the Raptors small-ball lineup and lack of rebounding presence, but they comfortably won the rebound battle on the night, and were led at the C position by Precious Achiuwa who finished with 15 points, 15 rebounds and a 6/13 shooting performance. The Raptors as a whole are one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA through two games, but between Barnes and Achiuwa, the Raptors look to be in very good hands.
It was a bit of a quiet night for the Raptors Canadian-born players, with Dalano Banton only checking in in the final three minutes. Chris Boucher scored 11 points in 20 minutes which is great as a reserve, but the 1/6 from three kept him from being further utilized. Khem Birch played just 21 minutes off the bench and scored only 2 points, although he did collect 6 rebounds.
This win rights the ship for the Raptors as they even their record back to 1-1, while the Celtics suffer back-to-back disappointing losses to Atlantic Division opponents and have their home opener spoiled, like Toronto did just a few days prior.
The Raptors will be back in action Saturday night against the Mavericks for the second leg of a back-to-back, while the Celtics will regroup and fly to Houston for a date with the Rockets on Sunday evening. The Mavs feature two Canadians and Toronto natives, Dwight Powell & Eugene Omoruyi. Powell is in his 9th season, while Omoruyi is a rookie signed to a 2-way contract between the big club and their NBA G League affiliate, the Texas Legends.
Barnes – 25 PTS 13 REB 2 AST
Trent Jr. – 20 PTS 3 REB 1 AST
Achiuwa – 15 PTS 15 REB 0 AST
Tatum – 18 PTS 6 REB 4 AST
Horford – 11 PTS 11 REB 2 AST
Richardson – 12 PTS 3 REB 0 AST
The Toronto Raptors had not played a true home game in 18 months prior to Wednesday night, where they opened the 2021-2022 season with a 98-83 loss to the Washington Wizards.
Expectations for the Raptors this season are much more subdued than in seasons past, but the thought heading into the home opener was that the Wizards would be a beatable opponent, especially with the home crowd urging them forward.
Washington took control of the game right from the opening tip, getting to the rim and free throw line effectively, despite shooting a paltry 18.5% from three. Bradley Beal got it going early, and the Raptors were unable to generate much of anything on offence, which was a trend that would carry on into the rest of the game. Two abysmal shooting quarters from Toronto led to a 57-31 blowout scoreline at the half, giving the 2019 NBA Champions a lot to think about as they headed down the tunnel. The Raptors played better defensively in the second half and managed to keep the game respectable, but a bulk of that could come down to the Wizards beginning to coast down the stretch with their massive lead in check.
Beal led the Wizards in scoring on Wednesday night, scoring 23 points on 7/18 shooting. It wasn’t his best night, but the early lead allowed for him to take his time and not force as many highly contested shots. Montrezl Harrell went off in his Wizards debut, scoring 22 points off the bench to go along with 9 rebounds. Kyle Kuzma was effective on the night, finishing with a 15-point 11-rebound double-double. Despite the aforementioned struggles from beyond the arc, the Wizards’ ball movement and interior scoring allowed for an offensive attack potent enough to start the year at 1-0.
No one scored more than 12 points for the Raptors on Wednesday, with Scottie Barnes and Fred VanVleet sharing the team high. Barnes was impressive in his NBA debut besides some inconsistencies shooting the basketball, and his line of 12 points and 9 rebounds is something that will excite Raptor fans moving forward. OG Anunoby had one of the worst nights of his career from the floor, shooting 3/17 for 11 points, although he did grab 10 rebounds in the process for a double-double. The Raptors shot 30.9% from the floor and 20.6% from three, which really tells the entire story on why they were dominated on the night.
Despite the struggles overall, it was a positive night for the Raptors Canadian contingent. Rookie Dalano Banton scored his first NBA basket in incredible fashion with a half-court buzzer beater to end the third quarter, and finished with 7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and a block. Montreal’s Chris Boucher scored 7 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and had 2 blocks in 18 minutes of action, while Khem Birch had an impressive 9-point 9-rebound performance in the season opener.
The loss marks the Raptors second straight season opening defeat after winning 8 in a row previously, and serves as a tough start for a year that may feature several games of the same nature. The Wizards will happily start the year with a win and look to build positive momentum to start their season.
Besides the occasional flash of brilliance from Barnes or Precious Achiuwa, there was not a whole lot for Raptors fans to cheer about on a night that was supposed to be a celebration. They will look to bounce back on Friday night against a tricky Boston Celtics team on the road, while the Wizards will look to keep the good times rolling in their home opener against Indiana on the same day.
Barnes – 12 PTS 9 REB 1 AST
Anunoby – 12 PTS 11 REB 1 AST
Achiuwa – 6 PTS 7 REB 2 AST
Beal – 23 PTS 3 REB 4 AST
Harrell – 22 PTS 9 REB 1 AST
Kuzma – 11 PTS 15 REB 3 AST
Pressure is rarely tangible, and yet you can almost reach out and grab it in its most intense moments. In sports, the way in which an athlete responds to pressure can shift the narrative around their career. To be the best, you have to perform in the biggest moments, and elevate your game when your teammates and fanbase need you the most. Oftentimes the ability to deal with pressure comes with experience; it’s the most common criticism you can hear about a young team: ‘they aren’t ready for the pressure’. In that case, the absence of pressure can be a beautiful thing for a roster made up of young players, and that is the situation that the 2021-2022 Toronto Raptors find themselves in. For the first time in nearly a decade, the burden of expectation and pressure has been relieved, and has instead been switched to optimism, and an excitement that Canada’s team is finally returning home.
It hasn’t been easy for the Raptors since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. In the midst of what was a great regular season following their 2019 title, the Raps along with the league’s other top contenders were forced into a bubble to complete the playoffs, where they fought valiantly and eventually fell in the second round to the Boston Celtics in 7 games. Even after losing both of their big-name centres in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, the consensus around the 2020-2021 Raptors team was that they were still geared to make the playoffs, and that anything less would be a disappointment. After major struggles with injuries, COVID, and having to relocate for the entire year to Tampa Bay (where they would routinely get booed during home games), the Raptors missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012. This past offseason they parted ways with their franchise GOAT Kyle Lowry, marking the official turning over of the franchise.
Flash forward to now, and the Raptors don’t have much expectation tied to them. They are a young roster with talent for sure, but they haven’t done much to fix the glaring issues from last season; notably in the rebounding department. This is undoubtedly a team in transition, and the lack of pressure on this group should allow them to slowly begin to piece things together. If they can figure it out quicker than many pundits predict, this is a team that could fight for a playoff spot. If they don’t this is a team that could end up right back in the lottery. The interesting thing about this season though is that both of these outcomes could positively affect the organization moving forward.
In this 2021-2022 Toronto Raptors season preview we will discuss the new additions, the team’s leadership core, ideal starting lineups, and go over realistic expectations.
There’s No Place Like Home
It’s been a year and a half since the Raptors have played a regular season game at Scotiabank Arena, the longest time frame between home games out of anyone in the league.
The Canadian government has allowed for the Raptors to come back and play, but maybe even more importantly, they are allowing full capacity throughout the season for vaccinated fans. The Raps will finally regain the home-court advantage that has pushed them so often in the past, and the old adage of ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’ will likely reign true: the building will be rocking.
From a fan perspective this is obviously a massive win, but it has a big impact on the players as well. It’s been hard to find a preseason interview that hasn’t contained a Raptor gushing over the opportunity to play in Toronto again, and rightly so. This is a growing team that is trying to find its new identity, and it will be much easier to do that in front of your loyal fans rather than a mishmash crowd in Tampa Bay.
The Youth Movement
With the departure of Lowry this past offseason and Ibaka/Gasol the year prior, the Raptors got a lot younger. All of a sudden, the leaders of the team became players who have only been in the league for half a decade like Fred VanVleet, and the team’s drafting position this past offseason meant the average age on the roster was hitting a steep decline.
The Raptors have 4 rookies on the roster heading into opening night, their two draftees and two signings they made afterwards.
Fourth overall pick Scottie Barnes had a shaky first impression as a surprise selection with guard Jalen Suggs still on the board, but the Raptors faithful quickly warmed to him. Barnes is an athletic 6’9 player that can line up at any position, which seems to be the brand of basketball the Raptors are looking to play. Barnes even ran the point this past year at Florida State, and so expect to see the Raptors fit him into the rotation as often as possible, especially considering his preseason performances thus far. Moving forward, he’ll need to get more consistent with that jump shot, but the Raptors development staff is one that can be trusted in that department.
Second round pick Dalano Banton sent shockwaves through Raptorland immediately, becoming not only the first Toronto-born player to be drafted by the Raptors, but the first Canadian in general. Off the court he’s a charismatic kid that reps Toronto to the fullest, and on the court he’s an animal, bringing energy and easy chemistry on both sides of the ball. Although he has had a few nice performances in the preseason, expectations should be tampered a bit for Banton. The hype is this large undoubtedly due to his Toronto roots, but at the end of the day he was a mid-second round player, and will need some time to get adjusted to the NBA level.
Both Justin Champagnie and David Johnson were signed by the Raptors following the draft, and have made it through the final cuts and into the opening day squad.
Besides rookies, the Raptors have Precious Achiuwa (acquired in the Lowry trade) who is in only his second NBA campaign, one in which he could have a breakout season north of the border. The other second year man is Malachi Flynn, who Raptors fans will be long familiar with at this point. Flynn seems to make positive strides every time he touches the floor, and it will be interesting to see what he can do in extended minutes this season with Lowry out of the picture.
Leadership, Leadership, Leadership
Almost every contending team in the NBA strikes a balance between young players and experienced veterans to gel the locker room together. Veteran leadership is crucial to success, and the Raptors are in an interesting situation where a majority of their leadership group will be under the age of 30.
Goran Dragic is the Raptors most experienced player by far, but he didn’t have the warmest introduction in Toronto, originally complaining in a Slovenian newspaper about how he didn’t want to play for the Raptors. Since then though, things have seemingly smoothed over and it looks as if Dragic will be all-in come opening night, and will certainly be a veteran presence in the locker room, especially for the young point guards.
Outside of Dragic, most of the Raptors leadership will be coming from the players that have been here the longest: Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby.
Although VanVleet is only in his 5th year, he’s experienced beyond his years, and it’s very clear that he will continue to become a great leader as he gets older. Even at 27, VanVleet has gone through so much adversity in his career, and will definitely command the respect of the locker room this year if he doesn’t completely have it already. Siakam is another player that has been through the trenches with this franchise and will be a great leader especially for a young forward like Barnes. While Anunoby is not the most vocal player, he can lead with his actions much like Kawhi Leonard does, and if preseason is any indication, it looks as if this is going to be a big year for the 4th year forward.
The Centre Dilemma
The Toronto Raptors were abysmal at the centre position last year, finishing third last in the NBA in RPG. They tried a variety of different players, starting with a failed Aron Baynes experiment at the start of the year. Chris Boucher had a great season last year, but his slender frame makes it tough to be an effective everyday five, and the combo of Khem Birch and Freddie Gillespie was nice, but not good enough to make a serious run at things.
This year, Boucher and Birch return, but the five spot comes with a shiny new option in the form of Achiuwa. The second-year man acquired in the trade for Lowry is only 6’8, but is more than capable of playing the center position in small ball lineups.
Given the recent draft history and comments made by management, it seems as if the Raptors are moving towards playing positionless basketball; having five guys on the court that can switch and cover almost any position. In that case, it should only be a matter of time before Achiuwa gets regular time at the center position, especially since he seems primed for a breakout season. Birch will be solid in that role as well to provide more rebounding, and Boucher will still be there for his shot blocking ability and big play potential.
The five is probably still the weakest spot on the team, but the options are a bit more refined this season for the brand of basketball that the Raptors are looking to play.
When discussing the realistic potential for this Raptors team, it’s important to get rid of the extremes on either side. Barring a collapse, this Raptors team is not a bottom dweller, and is not likely to finish in the bottom five of the league. At the same token, this Toronto team is not even close to being able to contend for a title, and that’s likely why the pressure on this group is so low.
The likeliest range for the Raptors this season is to bounce around near the play-in positions. If everything goes right, the Raptors could likely finish as high as 7th in the Eastern Conference, but could also fall to as low as 13th should injuries and bad performances creep in.
There are numerous ways that the 2021-2022 season could go for this group, but the positive thing is that there is light at the end of the tunnel either way. If the Raptors sneak into the playoffs this year, Raps fans will get the opportunity to see their team play postseason basketball after only a year off, all while the team continues to retool and get better. Should the Raptors miss, they will have another chance to climb in the draft lottery and further expedite the process of becoming a contender. Either way, this is a season that Raptors fans will not want to miss.
The absence of pressure can be a beautiful thing. Not all 30 franchises can have extreme pressure on them every season, but the Toronto Raptors were one of the best organizations in the league in the 2010’s, and to have a season where most fans are ready to go with the flow can be comforting.
This team will have some big character wins this season, and they will also have some head scratching losses. What’s important though is that this team is back to going in the right direction after only a one season detour, and that says a lot about the kind of front office and culture that exists in Toronto right now.
There may not be much pressure on the Raps this season, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t excitement. Raptors Basketball is back in the 6.
Halton Prep vs. East Prep
The first game of the day in the inaugural Platinum Circuit delivered a back-and-forth contest that ended with an 81-78 Halton Prep victory.
While the game was tight all game it was two big time stops came from Halton Prep late in the game that secured the victory and Player of the Game Jahsemar Olembe continued to showcase his athleticism on both ends of the floor, including two highlight reel slam dunks on his way to a 24-point performance.
Preston Gayle also had 18 points for Halton Prep, while Randall Browne had six made threes for East Prep, amassing 25 points in total.
Canada Topflight Academy (CTA) vs. Scarborough Prep
CTA and Scarborough Prep traded blows in the first half as CTA cruised to an 87-68 victory after a close first half. “We really focused on defence, we practiced that throughout the week after getting our asses kicked by grown men,” said Brayden O’Connor, who was named the first Player of the Game in the inaugural Platinum Circuit Early Bird Showcase, with 28 points.
While CTA’s pick and roll game driven by O’Connor, Joel Ongagna and Samuel Lufulabo kept them in the game early, it was a defensive adjustment at halftime that allowed CTA to keep in the game.
O’Connor credited CTA’s head coach Tony House for recognizing that the team wasn’t boxing out and defending at half and that allowed and his adjustment led to them effectively shut down the Scarborough Prep offence.
Despite a tough second half, Scarborough Prep had a whole team effort with Giancarlo Walton, Damion Pearce contributing nine points, and Devin Fikes adding 10.
Excel Prep vs. C.O.D.E Academy
Excel Prep took an early lead in their first match against C.O.D.E Academy and never looked back as they beat C.O.D.E soundly 94-74. Player of the Game Isaiah Campbell led the way for Excel with 17 points and Gabe Gutsmore added 15 points to the total as well.
C.O.D.E. was led by Joshua Lewis’ 13pts and DJ Burke who poured in 11pts.
Full Circle Basketball Academy vs. Oakville Prep
Oakville Prep picked up their first win of the weekend in one of the must watch games of the day with a 77-68 win over Full Circle Basketball Academy. Full Circle battled back from an early deficit to take a 39-38 lead into the second quarter but Oakville Prep, led by Player of the Game Kyree Thompson (19pts) was able to pull away in the fourth quarter.
Thompson credited the team’s ability to play together after the game.
Max Voorpool, arguably the best shooter in the country led Full Circle and the game with 29pts, including five threes. O’Shay Wright scored 16pts for the Durham-based Full Circle Academy.
Canada Topflight Academy vs. Halton Prep
Brayden O’Connor and Jahsemar Olembe went head-to-head in a battle of the session’s first two players of the game, ending with CTA coming away with the W.
Olembe went down with an injury early in the second quarter, and when he returned, he saw limited time on the floor before sitting the rest of the game. Halton’s offence couldn’t keep up with the shooting of CTA with their star player on the bench.
Kai Batten took home Player of the Game with 21 points and O’Connor followed up a stellar first game with another 28-point showing.
Preston Gayle took up the slack on offence for Halton Prep with Olembe out and scored 26 points. Owen Osabuohien added 16pts for Halton in a losing cause.
Project Excellence vs. Legacy Prep
What looked like it may be the lowest scoring game of the day after the first quarter ended up being a massive win for Project Excellence as they took a 98-54 win off Legacy Prep.
Player of the Game Chika Nwakwesi had a poster-worthy slam dunk among his 16 points and praised his team’s effort after the game for putting them in a position to pull away with the victory. “We started off the game really slow,” said Nwakwesi. “But at the end we really pushed and got a lot of buckets.”
Deshaun Blair of Legacy Prep scored 17 points in the loss.
Dynastie Sports Institute vs. Great Lakes Academy
Quebec’s Dynastie Sports Institute made their debut at The Platinum Circuit one to remember as they took an 87-51 victory off Great Lakes showcasing all facets of their attack and defensive presence.
Player of the Game Landry Lamine shot the lights out in the first quarter on his way to a 16-point performance. While Great Lakes struggled to match the physical presence of Dynastie, Great Lakes’ Logan Whitmell poured in 19 points to keep his team alive, including a big second half.
Scarborough Prep vs East Prep
Scarborough Prep rebounded from a first game loss in the session for a 101-87 win over East Prep. “Feels amazing (to get the win)” said Davion Pearce. “We let the first game slip, so we’re just trying to get back and find our identity.”
Pearce bounced back into form with a steady dose of assists from his teammates was named Player of the Game with 21 points. The guard broke down East Prep’s defence on the break using his athleticism to attack the basket at will. “Just happy we can get this in a good tournament against a good team,” said Pearce.
East Prep was led by Zander Wilson, who poured in a sensational 27pts, showing his versatility by scoring from all over the court.
Southwest Academy vs Vanguard Prep
With a 77-55 win over Southwest Academy, Vanguard Prep (formerly Vaughan Prep) is looking to put everyone in The Platinum Circuit on notice – Vaughan is back.
“I just came out and wanted to show everyone that Vaughan’s back baby!” said Nikola Rajacic, Player of the Game “We had a two year rest but now we’re back and ready to go.”
Vanguard Prep took the lead early in the first, and while Southwest Academy battled back into the game behind Brandon Bogart’s 14 points and Andre Rudy’s 10 points, they were never able to take the lead and Vanguard pulled away in the second half.
“We’re going to take this win and build on the momentum,” said Rajacic. “We’re building chemistry and once we get going fully, I think it’s going to be hard to stop us.”
Lincoln Prep vs. Burloak Prep Academy
Lincoln Prep held on in the tightly contested final game of the day, taking home a 63-60 win over Burloak Prep Academy.
“It was working all around as a team and finding your teammates,” said Joshua Omojafo of the win on Friday night. “Usually the defence likes to suck in when I drive, and I could depend on my team mates to hit shots.”
Omojafo took home the Player of the Game honours and had 16 points while JR Brutus Escalona had 14 points for Burloak in the losing effort.
Top five players of the day
Brayden O’Connor (CTA) – 28 points
O’Connor came into to the day as one of the most highly sought after prospects and proved why he should be at the top of everyone’s must watch list through the first two games of the circuit.
He was unstoppable with the ball in his hands in the opening game, not only getting buckets at will, but setting up his bigs with post possessions and finding them on the pick n’ roll as well – all while providing suffocating defence in the second half.
Jahsemar Olembe (2023) (Halton Prep) – 24 points
Olembe was another highly touted prospect that made his mark known in the first game of the day – starting with a thunderous slam dunk and ending with a defensive stop and bucket to give his team the win.
For a point guard, Olembe does it all.
Kyree Thompson (Oakville Prep) – 21 points
Thompson, a two-time provincial champ at Halifax Prep, dug deep for moves into his bag to propel Oakville Prep to their first victory of the day over a tough Full Circle squad full of shooters.
Nikola Rajacic (Vanguard Prep) – 21 points
Rajacic came in motivated to show the world that Vanguard wasn’t to be taken lightly – and did so in impressive fashion. With tough-nosed defence and impressive shot making, Rajacic’s goal of bringing Vanguard Prep back in a big way is well within reach.
Chicka Nwakwesi (Project Excellence) – 16 points
Where other plays found themselves on this list because of their offensive output, Nwakwesi is here because of his impact on both ends of the floor. Nwakwesi, who is filled to the brim with potential, owned the paint, and was a terror in transition in Project Excellence’s first win in The Platinum Circuit.
Max Voorpool (Full Circle Basketball Academy)– Can shoot from anywhere on the court, dropped 5 threes and 29 pts in a against Oakville Prep.
Randall Browne (East Prep)– Another lights out shooter, Brown scored 23 points in The Platinum Circuit opener, which included six threes against Halton Prep.
After twenty months of hard work behind the scenes, The Platinum Circuit is making its debut at The Playground Durham in Oshawa, Ont. this weekend and the founder Tony House is hopeful that it will become the next step for Canadian prep basketball as it brings together the best prep basketball teams from across Canada.
House, who is also the founder and director of Canadian Topflight Academy (CTA) and the head coach of the CTA Gold, says the creation of The Platinum Circuit was a “natural offshoot” of the National Senior Circuit (NSC) and National Junior Circuit (NJC) which he formed as ways to get some reps the Canadian Top Flight Academy Junior and Senior Red teams.
“The next logical step was to put on something for the high-end level,” said The Platinum Circuit’s Commissioner and co-founder & Founder & CEO of On Point Basketball, Drew Ebanks.
On Point Basketball is the marketing, media and social media driver supporting all three circuits. NCAA Certified On Point Scouting will also be in house checking out all the burgeoning talent in the Circuits.
The circuit will provide a flexible format that looks to provide more competitive situations for prep teams across Canada, where teams only need to compete in one competition throughout the year to qualify for The Platinum Circuit National Championship Tournament that will take place at the end of the season in March 2022.
Teams that can prove themselves at the NSC level will also be given consideration to join the ranks of The Platinum Circuit going forward.
“The flexibility, the competition and the exposure that we’re going to get…if you get the best programs and players together on a weekend, you know NBA scouts and college coaches will be coming in (to watch),” said House.
Part of that exposure is the recently announced exclusive partnership deal with Game Time Sports Media’s streaming platform BallerTV to broadcast all of The Platinum Circuit’s games along with all of the NSC and NJC games as well. This move puts the circuits alongside other major prep circuits and camps like the Pangos All-American Camp and various Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) events.
“If you look at BallerTV’s brand, they’re the premier live stream company, if not in North America then the globe,” said House. “They’re well renowned, well followed and they’ve got thousands of college coaches and NBA scouts checking in on their broadcasts.”
BallerTV’s Larry Cummings (also Game TIme Sports Media owner) gushed about having all three circuits on their platform in their recent press release announcing the deal and sees them as a key part of growing their brand in Canada going forward. House says he sees BallerTV as the perfect partner for the circuits as they build and grow in the future,
While The Platinum Circuit was ready to go last year, it was delayed by the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Although currently the circuit only has Canadian teams at their events, Ebanks notes that once the COVID-19 restrictions allow for it, there is the potential for American prep teams to join as well.
If The Platinum Circuit is as successful as House and Ebanks think it will be, House says the impact could be “life changing” for the athletes and hopes it will allow more Canadian basketball players to have the option of staying home rather than going to the states and still getting the exposure to NCAA coaches and NBA scouts.
“I’m not saying Canadian prep basketball is flying under the radar or anything,” said House. “But we’re still not getting the credit we deserve.”
The Platinum Circuit Early Bird Classic (October 8th-9th) at The Playground Durham in Oshawa, On schedule:
The first finalist in the 2021 WNBA Finals has been decided as the Chicago Sky completed their upset over the 1st place Connecticut Sun in game 4 Wednesday night. In the other semi-final, the 2nd seed Las Vegas Aces dominated the Phoenix Mercury to set up a do-or-die game 5 on Friday night in Vegas.
Connecticut Sun vs Chicago Sky, Game 4
The Chicago Sky headed into Game 4 on Wednesday with a surprising 2-1 lead over the consensus best team in the WNBA all season. The Sun dominated teams all year long, but may have experienced a bit of rust after receiving a direct bye to the semifinals, while the Sky had already advanced in two rounds before reaching the final four.
Chicago was the site of the fourth game in this thrilling series, and the fans were crucial in rallying their 6th seeded Sky to a final’s appearance.
The Sky found their offensive energy right out of the gate, moving the basketball quickly and getting good looks, especially from star Jonquel Jones. By the time the teams headed in for halftime, Chicago was up by 13 points, and the Sun well and truly found their backs against the wall. Connecticut’s star power looked like it could take over at the beginning of the third, but the second half was a cagey one with tough defence and a slow tempo. The Sun were unable to play the game at their pace, and that had been the story for much of the series. The Sky shut the door in the final minutes and preserved a 79-69 win to reach their second WNBA finals in franchise history.
Jones led the way for Chicago with a 25-point 11-rebound triple-double, while Jasmine Thomas scored 11 points alongside 5 rebounds and 3 assists in an exhausting 40-minute-complete-game performance. Courtney Vandersloot had another good performance for Connecticut in the loss, finishing with 19-4-4 in 33 minutes.
Las Vegas Aces vs Phoenix Mercury, Game 4
The other semi-final game 4 on Wednesday night was an elimination game in Phoenix as the hometown Mercury held a surprising 2-1 series lead against the #2 Aces, and were looking to join Chicago in an all-upset championship series. Standing in their way though was the firepower of the Aces’ stars, who were determined to save their season.
The fans were excited for a potential series win and were into the game early, but they got unfortunately silenced 39 seconds in the first quarter. Canadian Kia Nurse went down with a knee injury, and seemed to be in a lot of pain before being helped off of the court. It was a heartbreaking scene, and the carryover effect may have had an impact on the game. The Mercury’s initial response was positive, they came out firing offensively and got out to an early lead, but the offence got cold in the second. Still though, the Mercury were only down 3 at the half, and could have kept it close until the end if it weren’t for a disastrous third quarter. Phoenix were outscored 29-11 in the third frame as the Aces’ defence locked in and took over, and from there they just had to see the fourth frame out in a blowout 93-76 final. The win forces a game 5 back at home for Las Vegas, where it may be extremely difficult for Phoenix to get a result.
Chelsea Gray led the way for Las Vegas with 22 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists, while Kelsey Plum contributed a big 20 points off of the bench. A’ja Wilson was impressive as ever, scoring 15 points and adding 12 rebounds for the clutch double-double. For the Mercury, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi both finished with 14 points in the loss.
This year’s WNBA Playoffs have opened up in dramatic fashion. The single-elimination bracket for the first two rounds teased towards a spectacular show with a surplus of drama, and this past week, it delivered.
First round proceedings got underway with the #5 Phoenix Mercury squaring off against the #8 New York Liberty, while the #6 Chicago Sky took on the #7 Dallas Wings. The #3 Minnesota Lynx and the #4 Seattle Storm awaited the two winners in the second round, with the winner of those single-knockout matches moving to the semi-finals to meet the #1 Connecticut Sun and #2 Las Vegas Aces in a pair of best-of-5 series to determine the finalists.
As of today, the field has been shrunk to four; but in this round 1 & 2 recap we will take a look at all of the playoff matchups and the roadmap to where we are now, especially in regards to the two teams in the playoff field that have Canadian content on their roster.
The first round contained two thrilling single-elimination matchups including Canadian Kia Nurse taking the court with her Phoenix Mercury.
#5 Phoenix Mercury vs #8 New York Liberty
The opening-round tilt between the Mercury and Liberty in Phoenix this past Thursday was nothing short of a classic. The Mercury walked away with a 83-82 victory following a late-game free-throw make by Brianna Turner. Superstar Sabrina Ionescu had a desperation chance to win it at the buzzer for New York, but came up short.
Heading into the game it was obvious that the Mercury had the deeper roster, but the Liberty put up an outstanding fight considering their shaky regular season. In the end, the star power of Phoenix was too much for the Liberty to handle.
Skylar Diggins-Smith finished with 22 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists, while Britney Griner scored 16 alongside 10 rebounds. Sophie Cunningham had an incredible 6/7 three-point night off of the bench, giving her a crucial 21 points on the evening. Canadian Kia Nurse played a solid game, scoring 8 points on 3/9 shooting and collecting 6 rebounds.
It wasn’t a perfect game by the Mercury, but it was enough to advance them to the second round where they would travel on the road to take on the #4 Seattle Storm in another win-or-go-home scenario.
#6 Chicago Sky vs #7 Dallas Wings
Unlike the previous first round matchup, there was little to no drama towards the end of the Sky’s and Wings’ first round clash this past Thursday, where Chicago dominated by a score of 81-64.
The Sky came out firing in the first frame and never looked back, stretching their lead out further in nearly every subsequent quarter. After a Wings rally in the third, the Sky shut things down quickly, outscoring the Wings 26-14 in the final period, putting things well out of reach.
Kahleah Cooper led the way for Chicago with 23 points on an efficient 10/14 shooting, but it was Candace Parker who stole the show. The all-time great finished with 11 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists in what was an all-around masterclass that could have easily turned into a triple-double. The Wings were led by 22 from Arike Ogunbowale, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the hole that they dug for themselves early on.
The win for Chicago sent a statement to the league and provided them with extra confidence, which they would need in the next round against an extremely hot and prepared #3 Minnesota Lynx team.
After reseeding the remaining teams, the #3 Lynx and #6 Sky faced off on one side of the bracket, while the #4 Storm and #5 Mercury battled it out on the same night.
#3 Minnesota Lynx vs #6 Chicago Sky
The Sky were looking for a major upset this past Sunday heading into Minnesota and that was exactly what they got. Not only did they keep it close, but they dominated the Lynx for large stretches of the game and it showed up on the scoreboard, eventually walking away with an 89-76 win to send them into the semi-finals.
The Lynx looked to be heavy favourites heading in, and they held a 1-point lead after the first frame. From that point on though, the Sky found the gas pedal and never looked back, winning every quarter the rest of the way for a double-digit margin of victory by the end.
Chicago was lifted by a second straight dominant performance by Courtney Vandersloot, who this time was in the starting lineup. Vandersloot scored 19 points on 8/13 shooting to go with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. It was a near-perfect performance, with 4 others scoring in double figures as well. The offensive attack was balanced, unlike the Lynx who were only able to get scoring from a few players. Aerial Powers led the Lynx with 24, while Kayla McBride dropped 19 points and 7 rebounds. For the Canadians on Minnesota, Bridget Carleton didn’t score but finished with 2 assists in 14 minutes of action, while Natalie Achonwa scored 4 points and snagged 2 rebounds in her limited playing time.
The early exit for Minnesota may have come as a surprise to those around the team, and is especially difficult for Canadian basketball fans who were hoping to see a few Canadian nationals make a deep playoff run. It could be labeled as a choke for the Lynx, but it should instead be remembered as a big victory for the Sky, who were the better team on the day, plain and simple.
#4 Seattle Storm vs #5 Phoenix Mercury
The other second round matchup was far more dramatic, with the Phoenix Mercury playing in their second straight playoff game that went down to the wire. Despite being a slight underdog, the Mercury went into Seattle and won 85-80 in an overtime thriller this past Sunday.
The Mercury received a big boost pre-game before this one, as Diana Taurasi returned to the lineup after missing five games, and was massive down the stretch with multiple clutch buckets. On the other hand, Seattle was without star Breanna Stewart giving them serious issues in terms of late-game shot-making with their biggest name gone.
The entire Mercury starting 5 scored in double figures, as Brittney Griner led the way with an impressive 23-point 16-rebound double-double that also included 4 assists and a steal. Canadian Kia Nurse played another good game, finishing with 12 points and 4 rebounds in a patient, efficient performance.
The worry all year for Phoenix was how their star power would mesh, and it seems as if those questions have been answered. Everyone has played their own role, especially the Canadian Nurse, who has had to experience a step back in work load from her time in New York. The #5 seed may be misleading when it comes to the Mercury; they are a serious contender for a title moving forward into the semi-final round.
With the first two rounds in the books, the two best-of-five semi-finals series were determined after reseeding the remaining four teams. The frontrunning #1 Connecticut Sun take on the #6 Sky in what would be a shock upset could Chicago finish the race to three wins first. On the other side of the bracket, the #2 Las Vegas Aces take on the #5 Mercury in what could be a series destined to go the distance.
The fun in this year’s WNBA postseason has just begun, with semi-final action kicking off this Tuesday.
Josh Primo was the youngest player in college basketball during his one-and-done season at Alabama. When Josh Primo suits up for the San Antonio Spurs, he’ll be the youngest player in the NBA.
But for an 18-year-old, he has the maturity of a 10-year vet, which is likely the by-product of being around the game for so long. At the high school level, Primo played at Huntington Prep, the same academy that produced the likes of Miles Bridges, Andrew Wiggins, and current Spurs teammate Keldon Johnson. He’s also gained a wealth of knowledge from his father and older sister.
“My dad, he never played basketball at the highest level, but he’s the biggest fan you’ll ever know,” Primo said in an exclusive interview with On Point Basketball. “He knows more about the game than a lot of people out there. My sister, obviously she played [Division I] when she played college.”
Having those two by his side made the decision to go to the draft easy for him.
“As soon as I said that I want to go into it, they said ‘let’s do it.’ They didn’t hesitate, so it made it easy for me not to as well.”
Most other guys in Primo’s position wouldn’t have gone straight to the draft. At a critical juncture in Alabama’s season, an MCL sprain forced him to miss two games during the SEC Tournament, plus the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Nobody would’ve faulted him for spending that offseason recovering, then coming back stronger to raise his draft stock.
Primo, though, told himself that he wouldn’t let the injury be something that prematurely ended his year. As soon as he could, he immediately got to work and decided to bet on himself. The bet paid off, as he rose up the draft board all the way to no. 12, getting chosen by the San Antonio Spurs, the team he wanted to be with from the start of the draft process.
When asked what made him decide to declare despite his setback, Primo did it “knowing that people hadn’t seen the best of me just yet. Going into the process, I knew that I hadn’t shown all I can do and I knew that what I could bring to the table was very intriguing for teams.”
And while Primo’s rise up the board surprised a lot of draft experts on the day, it didn’t surprise anyone in his inner circle. “The work that we put in was, it was constant, and it was thoughtful, it was precise. Everything was geared towards moving up in the draft and trying to compete against all the players that were coming in.”
Primo stated the best part about the pre-draft process was building relationships with other guys that he hadn’t played against coming into the draft. In a class that was loaded with Canadian talent, he recalls linking up with Eugene Omoruyi and Marcus Carr, in particular.
“Just being with those guys each and every day, working out together, them telling me their stories and how they made it through college and things like that, because those guys were the big bros for me. Especially cause they’re like four years – Eugene’s about six years older than me. Guys like that, I was watching them in their senior years balling out.”
While Omoruyi didn’t get drafted on the night, he still signed a two-way deal with the Dallas Mavericks. Carr, meanwhile, decided to return to college, transferring to Texas.
Primo, meanwhile, remembers his draft experience vividly. In addition to his dad and sister, he was with Todd Ramasar, founder of Life Sports Agency. He knew, from their very first conversation, that Ramasar would be a good fit for him.
“Whatever goals that I have, whatever energy I have, he was going to match it and sometimes double it. He wants to push me, he doesn’t want to put any limits on where I can take my game, so I love that about him and his process.”
Primo recalls how, on draft night, the TV they were watching went out, after the 11th pick no less. “I ended up having to see it on Todd’s phone … I had no idea I was going to be picked at 12 up until maybe a minute or two before. I told Todd to shut up at first because I didn’t believe him.”
Primo concluded by saying “all the emotions, all the ups and downs, all the hard work they put in, it all comes together. It was an amazing feeling, something that I can’t describe.”
It didn’t take long for Primo to bond with the other rookie the Spurs drafted that night, Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp. He remembers how they were brought to the same hotel the next day then became good friends before playing together at Summer League.
“We were able to bond over some music, just listen to what he’s got going on and then both of us just being able to talk about how crazy this situation is. I think it translated to the court pretty well.”
While Primo was the first Canadian player selected in this year’s draft, he knows he’s a part of something bigger. With over 20 Canadian-born players on NBA rosters this season, it’s safe to say that Canada Basketball has arrived at the next level.
When asked what’s contributed to the recent wave of talent coming into the league, Primo declared “it’s the chip on the shoulder, I think, that we all carry as Canadian players. Not being respected the way that we feel we should be, and I think that, at some point, you want to change that narrative.”
Citing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and RJ Barrett as “guys who are already up there”, as well as Shaedon Sharpe (consensus #1 2022 prospect), who’s set to take Kentucky by storm, he says that “everyone’s starting to gain that confidence that Canadians really can do this, and we’ve got all that it takes.”
Having already played nationally at the U19 level, Primo believes that the key to success for the Canadian team is for everyone to drop their egos and just do it for the country.
During Spurs training camp, Primo has gained some valuable insight from former players like Manu Ginobili, while meeting Gregg Popovich for the first time last week after he took an extended break from the Tokyo Olympics. Learning from a group of guys that have built a winning culture over two decades will serve him well and will help him achieve all his goals at the next level.
As far as the next generation of Canadian hoopers who want to get to where Primo’s at, he has a simple message.
“It takes complete dedication, it’s going to take a lot of sacrifices, and being able to always do the things that everyone else does, but it’s going to pay off. Not everything that you see happening on social media is going to happen to you. You have to trust your path and follow the path that’s been laid out for you.”
Photos Courtesy Life Sports Agency
Tasha Lattimore & Shayeann Day-Wilson sign marketing deals with @eqxsales
SIGNED// Tasha Lattimore @hollywoodtash
Super Athletic / Silent Killer / “Baby KD”
We are pumped to announce Canada’s 1st #NIL marketing deal with Tasha Lattimore!
Tasha is a collegiate NCAA basketball player with the Texas Longhorns!
Tasha also plays for Team Canada’s women’s basketball team.
If you don’t know this young woman.yet, you need to follow her NOW! @hollywoodtash
Tasha is a top future WNBA prospect and is often compared to the powerhouse Candace Parker for her style of play. What do we mean? Standing at 6’5, Tasha has guard-like abilities to shoot, dribble, pass, block and even dunk, making her a true unicorn and a clear standout. You may not hear her coming, but Tasha is known for getting the job done!
We are excited to partner with this young woman to enable her off the court success in the present and future!
Stay Tuned…..this is only the START!
SIGNED// Shayeann Day-Wilson @shy.dw
Born Leader / Stylistic / “Box Office”
We are fired up to annouce Canada’s 1st #NIL marketing deal, Shayeann Day-Wilson!
Shayeann is a collegiate NCAA basktball player at Duke University!
Shayeann also plays for Team Canada’s Sisterwomen’s basketball team.
If you don’t know this young woman you need to follow her NOW! @shy.dw
In Shayeann’s most recent tournament play representing Team Canada in Hungary, she dominated the scoreboards and solidified herself as a true WNBA prospect.
Shayeann is known for her passion, creativity and being the hardest worker on the court. A leader by example she captivates the audience and enables her teammates to give their best.
The EQ team is thrilled to partner with this young woman to enhance her off the court success in the present and future!
Stay tuned…..this is only the BEGINNING!!!
Cover photo courtesy Charlie Stanislaw
(Niagara, ON)– The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) and Board of BCL Americas announced Wednesday that the 2021 CEBL champion Edmonton Stingers will represent Canada in the upcoming season of the Basketball Champions League Americas (BCLA).
“We are thrilled that our CEBL Champion Edmonton Stingers have qualified to represent the CEBL and Canada in the upcoming Basketball Champions League of America (BCLA) season”, said Mike Morreale, CEO and commissioner of the CEBL. “Since our inception we have looked forward to an opportunity to play and expose our teams globally. The BCLA showcases some of the top professional teams across the Americas and we look forward to seeing our elite talent compete with some of the best in the game internationally”.
The competition will feature 12 teams representing seven countries across the Americas, including Quimsa, Boca Jrs and Obras from Argentina, São Paulo, Minas, and returning champion Flamengo from Brazil, Bigua, and Nacional from Uruguay, UdeC from Chile, Cangrejeros from Puerto Rico, season two runner-up Real Estelí from Nicaragua, and the Edmonton Stingers from Canada.
Each of the 12 teams will have a chance to host games during the group stage. The BCLA season will tipoff in December and run five months, culminating in the Final 8 scheduled in April 2022. The CEBL and the Edmonton Stingers will provide further details on when and where Canada will host its group stage later in the year.
The third season of the BCLA will consist of 36 games at the group stages, and eight games at Final 8. The Final 8 will be played as single-elimination quarterfinals and semifinals with the winners advancing to the Championship game, with the semifinal losers playing for third place. The clubs will be divided into four groups of three teams with the first and second ranked clubs from each group advancing to the Final 8. An official draw will take place in the first week of October to determine the groups and the full calendar of the third season. The date and time for the draw will be announced in the upcoming days.
The BCL Americas champion will earn a spot into the 2023 FIBA Intercontinental Cup. C.R. Flamengo, current champion of BCL Americas season two (2021) will play in the 2022 FIBA Intercontinental Cup.
The Edmonton Stingers became the first-ever repeat CEBL champions on August 22, when they convincingly defeated the Niagara River Lions,101-65, at the 2021 Championship Weekend. Three-time CEBL Player Of The Year Xavier Moon recorded a double-double with game-highs of 28 points and 10 assists to win the Finals MVP Award.
The CEBL is heading into its fourth season set to start in May 2022. A league created by Canadians for Canadians, the CEBL has the highest percentage of Canadian players of any professional league in the country, with 75 percent of its current rosters being Canadians. Players bring experience from the NBA, NBA G League, top international leagues, the Canadian National team program, and top NCAA programs as well as U SPORTS. The only First Division Professional League Partner of Canada Basketball, the CEBL season typically runs from May through August. Head to CEBL.ca for more information or follow us (@cebleague) on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook & YouTube.
The Basketball Champions League Americas (BCLA) is the best continental league in the Americas. It’s created through an innovative partnership between FIBA, federations and leagues with 12 teams competing from the continent.
Photo courtesy CEBL