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)