If you look in the school gymnasium of Mother Teresa High School in Scarborough, Ontario, chances are that you will see one of Canada’s best high school players. Undoubtedly Ontario’s best three-point shooter, “Diddy Pop,” also known as Papa Oppong, rallied his team to victory in their first game last season against Oakwood High School at the St. Michael’s Tournament. By making one of his famous three-point shots, Papa helped tie the game and force overtime in a highly contested game.
Standing 6-3 tall and weighing in at a buck-seventy-five, Papa Oppong, who was born in London, Ontario, began playing basketball at the tender age of eight and instantly knew it was his passion. Oppong, who averages 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals per game, has led his Titans to back-to-back OFSAA (Ontario Federation Schools Athletic Associations) appearances. After two heartbreaking losses in 2004 to Hamilton’s Cathedral H.S and Kingston’s Frontenac S.S, and placing second to the eventual 2005 champions, Eastern Commerce, this may be Oppong’s time to finally claim that elusive crown.
Despite never winning the coveted gold medal, the grade 13 senior has earned the respect of his peers by leading the undersized Titans to three consecutive Toronto District Catholic Athletic Association (TDCAA) championships and winning countless MVP awards in numerous tournaments over the years.
Many post-secondary institutions including Canisius, Niagara, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Denver and Binghamton have taken notice of Oppong’s smooth shooting and all-round talent and are fighting for his services next fall. “I will choose the school that I feel will put me in the best situation and one that will give me enough playing time.”
Coach Richard Gallacher has been coaching at Mother Teresa for seven years now and has managed to keep the Titans competitive by being a top-ten program in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) over the last four years. He has watched Oppong improve and grow his ball skills since he entered high school. “Papa brings intensity to the team. When he plays hard, it makes other players on the team want to play hard.” praises Gallacher. “As an athlete, he is one of the purest scorers in the GTA, he can score and hurt you in a number of different ways. Any position you want him to play, he can play it.”
Although Gallacher has a lot of praise for Papa, he doesn’t believe he is a complete player yet. “There are certain aspects of his game that he needs to get better at in order for him to play at the next level,” says Gallacher. He knows when I push him it’s from a caring perspective.” And Oppong could not agree more. “Coach Gallacher applies a lot of discipline to the team and is a good man to talk to on and off the court.”
Oppong idolizes NBA superstar Tracy McGrady because “he does a lot for his team and helps his squad win a variety of ways,” says the humbled shooting guard. But he compares his style to Jamal Crawford of the New York Knicks, which is fair to say, since both are young, versatile and full of talent. But what they have most in common is that they are both flourishing as young stars.
Entering his last year of high school, the 18-year old senior guard knows that his time is running out and he wants to leave with a big bang. Oppong has made it clear that he wants to win an OFSAA championship, something Mother Teresa has never accomplished, and get a D-1 scholarship before his playing days are done. This year, the Titans will return most of their key players from a squad that went 39-3 a year ago. Judging from how much success Oppong has already achieved, and considering how close the team came last year, this season just might be the time that he accomplishes his goals and finally wears the crown he so rightfully deserves.