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Vidal Massiah speaks out…

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Vidal Massiah, former team Canada captain, owner of The Hoop Factory and director of the Northern Kings AAU program speaks out on the controversial Fifth Estate basketball documentary.

When I first heard the news about the airing of the CBC Fifth Estate “Fast Break” story, it came to no shock to me. It was something I have known was coming for the last six months, after I was contacted by a reporter to be a contributer to the story. I did not want to speak on camera about Ro Russell, and I still don’t want to talk about things I personally know to be true. I am not hear to change anyones opinion on this story. We are all entitled to our own views.

Despite what those may feel about me, Ro Russell, or AAU basketball, I don’t think there should be a backlash to the children that were brave enough to share their real life experiences. These are kids that have been through enough, and the last thing that they need is to be labeled a “snitch” or other names by their peers.  This is their account of  what’s happened, and we need to respect that. After all, none of us where there.

I have spoken to a lot of kids since the story aired, many of who i train, coach and mentor.  Their opinions are disturbing to say the least. They honestly believe that what these kids have experienced,is simply part of the “grind” to be a successful basketball player in America. The players should have “sucked it up” to get where they want to be. Although things may never be perfect when chasing your dreams, the opinion that these kids shared is something that I will not endorse. Using basketball to further your education must always remain at the forefront of what this complicated basketball industry is.People are attacking Xavier and Braden for speaking out, and that is the only reason I decided to voice my opinion. Canada, there is no “grind” or “sucking it up”  outside of  taking care of your school work and working hard to improve your game that needs to take place to make it in America. This is simply not true,and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. This is the type of misinformation and mentality that needs to be addressed. The basketball issues are secondary,and I will get to those in a minute, but first please stop attacking our kids for speaking out!

I speak with parents, players, and coaches everyday and the basketball community in Canada with the majority of parents wanting their kids to secure a post secondary opportunity in America, our extremely misinformed. The information they have or have been given is many times wrong, half truths or lies. I really wish parents and players, but mostly the parents would do their research and get the very best information before making decisions. Ask for resumes, playing history, coaching experience references etc..Basketball in Canada has been around for years, but it is only in its infancy stages when you talk about building an industry. The players who are making it to the NBA are making it for the most part because the NBA invested into Canada.

They put a team in Toronto and made an American game, a Canadian reality for millions of Canadian kids. In other words, there was a shift in mentality. So there will be kids making it to the NBA from Canada for years to come. It is very important that as we move forward and build an industry, the foundation be solid! There needs to be standards and we need to do things with integrity. This is a direct shot at all the media outlets that want to cover basketball in Canada. Do so with no bias. Report the good and the bad so we are all held accountable. I do not think it is  your job to only bring attention to the players who are so deserving of your stories and articles, but the more important job at this point is to ensure the games integrity is protected. I am sick of seeing videos and stories with information that is so wrong and inaccurate but yet it is still shared with the public.

Please do not post videos of kids who you know attend high school, but you say they are in the 8th grade at the request of their coach. If you ever took the time to speak to the player to see how he or she felt about it you may have thought twice. These are kids, they have a tough time as it is. Any attention brought to kids needs to be positive. I have been told by a media outlet with major influence in our developing market that he would not report certain stories because he needed access to a particular coaches players for features and stories. Thank God this person is no longer part of our basketball community. This is not what we need. To the media outlets, thank you for your help and hard work, you are bringing much needed attention to our game and athletes, lets just make sure we do it the right way and keep up the good work. Now on to the basketball.

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I was once coached by Ro Russell, and he actually reached out to me after the airing of the story. It is widely known that at one point Ro was very much father figure to me. We went and did everything together. We have since had our differences and I have for the most part severed ties with him.  However, there is no bad blood between us, and I am confident Ro, as he has ensured me will clear the air and set the record straight between my program (The Hoop Factory),  Grassroots, and the player(s) associated with both programs. The misconceptions have further divided our basketball community and that has never been my intentions. I am very much about community, and it  will take co-operation from the members of our basketball community to  build a strong one. More than anything the members of our community must lead this change.

It is not the responsibility nor place for  government, shoe companies or corporate Canada to fix. Basketball always has, and always will be driven by communities. The community coach, mentor,  and teams are at the foundation of any successful basketball program. When these individuals are not recognized it damages the game. I have always tried to share and include these people who are at the root of any success that may follow a player. In basketball we all start somewhere. What you see on T.V is the result of work  done by many coaches behind the scenes over a number of years.

Our basketball community has never recognized these people from the top level down, and its resulted in what we have today. A community where everyone has “made”  or “built”  a particular player. All in the effort to be recognized!  In basketball a coach taking sole credit for the success of a player couldn’t be further from the truth.  In fact, the most successful  coaches are many times the ones with the best relationships. In others words someone (the relationships) has really help in the “making” of  the coach, not the other way around. Strong relationships help land talented players and if he or she  can coach,  that helps too.  Our community needs to become a community.  Where success is shared amongst all who are involved in the process. Until this happens, what you see now and the climate within our community will never change. Our community needs to protect these people and ensure their efforts never go unnoticed. I have never publicly attacked anyone, and i wont start now. Our basketball community needs unity, without a doubt in my mind.

I hope that the airing of this documentary will spark healthy conversation, both the good and the bad that need to be addressed. Most importantly I want people to know these kids were brave and we need to show our support to them right now. Not tear them down. The message sent by tearing them down is something we all know is wrong. Speaking up for what we believe in is something we all need to instill in our kids.  #4ThePlayers

Thank you to basketballbuzz.ca for being the platform.
Vidal Massiah

You can follow me on twitter at Vi_massiah
and check me out @ www.thehoopfactory.com

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Ashitei Twins Loyalty Towards Ottawa Phoenix Basketball Club

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With so many sponsorship deals, kids not having patience and friends wanting to stick together; the word Loyalty has become a lost art in today’s basketball world. It’s fair to say that there are very few programs nowadays that are lucky to have the chance of developing players from their first year of eligibility right through their last. It has become quite common for players to bounce around teams until they encounter one that meets all their immediate necessities. Nevertheless, like in most situations in life there will be some exceptions; and have people that will go against the norm, like many who have had the opportunity of playing for the Ottawa Phoenix basketball club.Quinton-Ashitei-Ottawa-Phoenix

Phoenix basketball program began in 1997 with the goal of providing for local youths from the area who wanted an opportunity to play basketball after the high school season was over. For about two years coaches Andy Waterman and Adrienne Coddett brainstormed on what shape and direction they thought would be best for the program. After the anticipating two years they came to the conclusion/ creation of the Ottawa Phoenix basketball club. From the very beginning Phoenix basketball goal was to provide young men with an opportunity to excel in their classroom and in the athletic arena. Decades later the organization continues to assist young basketball players on their voyage of discovery.

The club has done a phenomenal job of making players stick around throughout the years and now is recognized as one of the best basketball clubs in the city of Ottawa. They’ve helped develop star powers such as Garry Gallimore, Ishmael Kaba, Johnny Berhanemeskel, Jahenns Manigat and many more! They’ve had such an influence on players that guys like Jahenns Manigat who’s played four years for Division one basketball with Creighton Blue Jays and now for a pro team in Romania; has been going to the facility practically everyday to mentor the kids and tell them what it’s like to play college ball and professionally.

Two very special individuals who have followed the footsteps of other former Phoenix Alumni’s and demonstrated throughout their years with the program the definition of patience, hard work and loyalty. Soon to-be alumni’s of Phoenix basketball are the Ashitei twins, Shandon and Quintin. The twins have been great role-models for the younger generation of basketball players in Ottawa. They’ve not only stuck with Phoenix from beginning to end but they did it with class and are both leaving with tremendous amount of skills and character that will certainly benefit them in their next step as they prepare for University.

Their journey began in the summer of 2012. The twins grandpa woke them up one day and told them that he signed them up for this camp. The first thought was that they would attend the basketball camp for a week. It was the supposed to be the usual “fill a week of the summer” for the kids routine. At the end of camp, there were lots of hugs and thank you’s for a fun week of camp, and see you never goodbye’s.
Shandon-Ashitei-Ottawa-Phoenix1
The very next week of camp, the first two campers in the gym were Shandon and Quintin Ashitei!  The (Twins) have been with Phoenix every since. Shandon and Quintin are now members of an elite group of Phoenix players who have competed in more than 150 games. The great accomplishment is a testament to Shandon and Quintin their loyalty and trust in our Ottawa Phoenix organization. Over their years, Shandon and Quintin have been approached about playing in other organizations. To their credit, they have stayed loyal to the program, and to our belief that ‘tradition never graduates.” Shandon and Quintin have now become veteran leaders and role models to our younger players and summer campers and have been classic examples of the fact that “you don’t change the message, the message changes you.”

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Coming into high school the Ashitei twins we’re heavily underrated. After both getting cut from their local OBA team they’ve played with a chip on their shoulder ever since. When the first Phoenix AAU travel team was made the Ashiteti twins we’re finally selected, participating in their first club team. They both stated that “It was tough!” so tough, that in fact most people quit the team that year. And now, the twins are the only two remaining players on Phoenix that started back in 2012. Despite the tough years they’ve managed to stick through it and now have surpassed many of the players that we’re ranked above them as they entered high school. Now the twins will be bringing the hard earned loyalty to the university level. Their recruiting process has been quite interesting as they come as a package deal. They’ve both stated that whatever school wants one brother has to take the other as well. They’ve gotten over five university offers have kept their grades up all their high school career. They came to the program as young boys and are leaving as young men!

In the end the twins decided to attend Nipissing Lakers where they’ve received the Schulich Scholarship from Nipissing University! The Schulich is an academic scholarship based on their top four grade 12 marks and their commitment to community volunteer work.

Their coach Andy Waterman stated:

“It has been a pleasure to be able to work closely with Shandon, Quintin and their family. We have also been fortunate to be involved in so many aspects of the boys lives, from birthdays, international tours, huge tournament wins to endless hours traveling the highways and byways and Eastern Canada and the United States. The (Twins) have now carved out their own identities in the long Phoenix storyline. Along the way they have become Shandon and Q. They have helped usher in the next phase of Phoenix ball.  I look forward to the next episode for Shandon and Q.” Concluded coach Waterman.

“The future is so bright, you gotta wear shades”

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Canadian 2018 Simi Shittu victimizes EYBL defender

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Canadian five star 2018 forward Simi Shittu victimizes EYBL defender with this ridiculous one hand slam over a poor defender.

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Rowan Barrett Jr. leads Team Ontario to seventh straight U15 Canadian National Championship

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When it comes to Canadian basketball bragging rights there is no doubt that the province (state) of Ontario dominates the ranks. Toronto & GTA more specifically is single-handily responsible for more players heading to the NCAA and NBA ranks than any other province in the country. Quebec is certainly no slouch, producing its fair share of talented players at all levels as well. Therefore, when the two provinces clash on the basketball court there is no doubt that talent will be in abundance, and more importantly future NCAA and NBA stars will also be on display, as was the case for the 2014 U15 Canadian National Basketball Championship in Edmonton Alberta.

Class of 2019 and current eighth grader Rowan Barrett Jr., the son of former Canadian Senior Men’s National player and current Canada Basketball executive Rowan Barrett put on a show for the entire country to see, scoring 27 of his game-high 37 points in the second-half to lead Team Ontario to a convincing 93-53 victory over Team Quebec to claim their seventh straight U15 Canadian National Basketball championship at the Sackville Sports Centre.

With the score tied at 30-30 at half-time Ottawa’s rising star Lloyd Pandi helped Team Ontario race out to a 12-2 run by scoring the first six points for his team and the first double-digit lead of the game at 42-32, from there Rowan Barrett Jr. took over and dominated after only scoring 11 points in the first-half. Team Ontario made some adjustments at half-time to limit Quebec to just 23 second-half points in the runaway victory and continue their dominance at the U15 level.

Montreal’s Junior Farquhar was finally held in check after torching Team Ontario for 36 points in their second pool game of the tournament, a game Quebec dominated and beat Ontario 87-80. Farquhar, a silky smooth point guard continued to show flashes of brilliance by scoring 15 points in the first-half, finishing with 21 points and seven rebounds and first-team all-star nod.

Barrett Jr. shot 17-for-25 from the field, 3-of-4 from the free-throws and grabbed seven rebounds to claim the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. In five games with Team Ontario Barrett’s length, athleticism and overall feel for the game proved too much for the opposition, finishing as the tournament’s top scorer with an average of 26 points per game, 7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and absurd 62.1% shooting from the floor.

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It’s very early in the process, but expect Rowan Barrett Jr.’s  stock to continue to rise rapidly, based on this tournament he might be the one prospect in Canada that has the potential to one day come close to reaching Andrew Wiggins status, if that is ever possible!

Team Ontario’s run to the championship was largely due to the stellar play of Andrew Nembhard (Aurora, Ont) who displayed all the right attributes you would want to see in a young point guard. Nembhard’s ability to run a team and play under control was key he added 18 points and two rebounds in the championship game and was well deserved recipient of a first-team all-star award.

2014 Canadian U15 Men’s National Championships First Team All-Stars

Andrew Nembhard (Ontario) – 15.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.4 APG
Daniel Sackey (Manitoba) – 19.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.4 APG
Jaydan Smith (Nova Scotia) – 14.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.5 APG
Junior Farquhar (Quebec) – 17.2PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.4 APG
Luguentz Dort (Quebec) – 19.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 APG

2014 Canadian U15 Men’s National Championships Second Team All-Stars

Carlo Theriault (New Brunswick) – 13.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG
Emmanuel Akot (Manitoba)  – 14.4 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.2 APG
Jaden Gregg (British Columbia) – 13.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.5 APG
Jahson Henry (Saskatchewan) – 17.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.0 APG
Matt Fullerton (Alberta) – 5.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 4.7 APG

2014 Canadian U15 Men’s National Championships Final Standings

1st – Ontario
2nd – Quebec
3rd – Nova Scotia
4th – Manitoba
5th – Alberta
6th – British Columbia
7th – Saskatchewan
8th – New Brunswick
9th – Newfoundland
10th – Prince Edward Island

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