With everything going on in Canadian basketball I felt it necessary to highlight the up and coming talent our country has to offer. Regrettably I could not include everyone and this is just a snapshot of that talent. This is the first instalment of my “Canadian Notebook” I will also cover our country’s NCAA stars and rising players in the NBA. As for my experience watching these players. I have seen most of them play live but not as often as I would like as they all play across the boarder. That being said, I have watched plenty of full games of each player either via youtube or when ESPN broadcasts the game. If you want to check them out yourself have a look at “The Basketball Diary’s” channel on youtube.
Considering: Kansas, Kentucky, UNC, Florida St.
By now everyone has heard of him, he has been touted as “The Canadian Jordan” and the projected first overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. He has been covered by everyone from the CBC to Slam magazine. Andrew’s mind blowing athleticism was passed down from his mother (Olympic Sprinter) and his father (NBA player). I’ll try not to gush too much over him as his hype has already reached a ridiculous level. On top of all his skill and athleticism, two traits stand out to me when i watch him: superior body control that allows him to take contact while finishing and his second jump. Andrew’s second jump is unbelievable, he needs only a split second to get back to the rim while leaving a helpless defender planted on the court still gathering to jump. However, as Andrew is still a high schooler it is expected that there be holes in his game, and there are. His handle is gradually improving but it’s still not at the point where he has multiple moves off the dribble. As of now, he relies on a hard jab step and a quick spin back to the rim. His jump shot is also improving but not yet reliable enough. As of now he lacks a consistent release point. Lastly, scouts question his motor. I believe it is a non issue. Andrew is simply not challenged enough and becomes disinterested playing against lower caliber players. Andrew has shown the ability to turn up his intensity whenever the competitions requires him to do so. An example of this would be at last years Nike Hoops Summit where Wiggins scored 20 on Shabazz Muhammad while leading the World team over the United States. If you want to get a sense of his game yourself just youtube him and you will find dozens of mixtapes profiling him. Here is a short clip exemplifying his quick second jump.
Committed to: Syracuse
Ennis is ranked 38th by ESPN. To me, he is a top 25 player. What happens in high school rankings is that a players “potential” is valued above production. Ennis produces, he has lead fifth ranked St. Benedict’s to a 28-1 record while scoring 21 a game. As for “potential”, Ennis is still a solid athlete, standing at 6-2 with good length and quickness. However, he is not a Russell Westbrook type athlete and therefore isn’t given as much attention. Although Ennis isn’t blessed with a 40 inch vertical, he does possess great feel for the game. He uses his IQ and change of speed to push the ball and get into the paint. Tyler can do a little bit of everything, he is comfortable in the fast break and half court. Recently he was snubbed by the McDonald’s AA game. In response, he dropped a school record 53 points, surpassing J.R Smith. You can watch Tyler showcase his skills in the Jordan Brand Classic which takes place on April 13th.
Committed to: Florida State
What strikes me first about Xavier’s game is his maturity. He has great foot work and ball handling skills that allow him to create shots anywhere on the court. Xavier is finishing his senior season at Huntington Prep, along with close friend Andrew Wiggins. Xavier can score, but at 6-3 he is undersized for the 2 guard position. This has prompted him to try to convert to the point, the move has had mixed results. At times, he makes brilliant and flashy passes, but with those bold attempts also come turnovers. The passing ability is definitely there, now Xavier is trying to find the balance between electric scorer, and creator. Watch him explode for 55 here:
Considering: UCLA, Miami, Oregon, Connecticut.
The 6-6 forward has emerged as a high-major prospect in the past few months. Mikyle has always been very strong and athletic. What scared larger programs off was his lack of skill, which projected him to be an undersized 4. However, he has made great strides in his game and has shown improvement in his ball handling and shooting touch. It is still very early in the recruiting process as he is just now getting involved with major programs and there is no clear favourite. Mikyle is often used as a point forward and leads the break after defensive stops. To me, his game is very reminiscent of Winston Shepard , the freshman at San Diego State. Get a look at his game here:
Considering: Illinois, Georgetown, Villanova, Virginia.
Zabo is a strong 6-2 point guard for Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. Scouts have been very high on him since his freshman year, they were intrigued by his strong frame and quickness in the open court. Zabo spent his sophomore season at Montrose Christian where he took the backseat to older and highly regarded players such as Justin Anderson (Virginia), and Ishmail Wainright. Now at Brewster Zabo is making the most of his increased role in the offence. Zabo takes advantage of his strong frame as he is able to get to the basket with ease in the fast break and the half court setting. He has also extended his range and is a very reliable 3 point shooter. His next step is finding a mid range game which will allow him to be more effective in the pick and roll. Also, Zabo must continue to improve his passing skills. He has great vision in the open court but sometimes gets too dribble happy once play slows down. I believe Kevin will have a big summer on the AAU scene and remerge as a top prospect, he is definitely one to watch.
Considering: Baylor, Ohio State, Kentucky.
Montaque or “Teki” as his teammates call him is an explosive 6-5 guard. The sophomore is spending his first year across the boarder on the loaded Huntington Prep squad. Since the team already has so many offensive weapons, Teki takes a backseat to Wiggins and Xavier on offence. He is as solid as kids his age come and he uses his strength to finish through contact. Coupled with his elite athleticism is a sweet stroke from deep. I am extremely high on him and believe he can be a top 10-15 player in his class. His explosiveness and ability to attack the rim reminds me of Rodney Purvis (NC State), and Wayne Selden (Kansas) two highly touted prospects. His junior season will be very telling just how high he can climb. Scouts will be interested in if he can go transition from role player to go to scorer. It is still early in the recruiting process but according to ESPN Baylor has pursued him the hardest so far (lets hope Scott Drew doesn’t get his hands on him).