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 contributor 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 anyone’s 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.
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.
Quebec Basketball sweeps 2019 Canadian U15 & U17 National Championships
Quebec basketball made a loud statement by sweeping all four levels of the 2019 Canadian National basketball championships – claiming gold both at the U15 and U17 boys and girls annual provincial tournament.
The boys made a clean sweep of Ontario to take home gold at both the 2019 U15 and U17 boy’s Canadian national championships in Fredericton, New Brunswick. While across the country at Ken and Kathy Shields court in Victoria, British Columbia the U15 ladies knocked-off Ontario 72-55 and the U17 ladies completed the sweep with a 55-45 win over Alberta. Quebec becomes the first province to sweep all four championships since Ontario claimed supremacy in 2011.
Quebec’s first U17 boys title since 2010
Quebec’s silky smooth guard Bennedict Mathurin was the star of the U17 tournament pouring a game-high 23 points to help La Belle Province defeat their rivals 84-77 to claim their third-ever U17 gold medal at Nationals and their first since they won back-to-back in 2010 and 2008. Mathurin the tournament’s top scorer (23 PPG) added 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the victory.
Aurel Ntahindurwa scored a game-high 25 points, pulled down 7 rebounds and added 3 assists to lead Quebec to a 88-78 win over Ontario in the U15 boys championship game. Freud-Ansley St-Felix took-home MVP honors by showcasing his all-around game with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists.
Dumont twin brothers also impacted the game – both nearly reaching double-doubles Jordann with 12 points and 8 rebounds and Raphael contributed with 9 points and 9 rebounds. Thomas Ndong collected a game-high 11 rebounds added 7 points and scored Christian Payawal finished as the tournaments top thief racking 8 first-half steals alongside his 7 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds.
Cassandra Prosper was named MVP of the U15 girls championships and had the game of the tournament — scoring 24 points and grabbing a jaw-dropping 18 rebounds in the finals.
The U17 Quebec ladies completed the rare clean sweep fighting off a tough Alberta squad. Kiandra Browne was named MVP capping a great tournament with 7 points and 9 nine rebounds.
2019 U17 Boys MVP & First Team All-Stars
Bennedict Mathurin – Quebec – Most Valuable Player
Mason Kraus – Manitoba
Darius DeAverio – Ontario
Olivier-Maxence Prosper – Quebec
Norman Burry – New Brunswick
2019 U17 Boys Second-Team All-Stars
Owen Weaver – Alberta
Dominic Parolin – British Columbia
Kyle Duke – Ontario
Enoch Kalambay – Quebec
Malcom Christie -New Brunswick
2019 U15 Boys MVP & First Team All-Stars
Freud-Ansley St-Felix – Quebec – Most Valuable Player
Xavier Spencer – Alberta
Braeden Macvicar – Nova Scotia
Jahsemar Olembe – Ontario
Jaiden Cole – Ontario
2019 U15 Boys Second-Team All-Stars
Bubu Benjamin – Alberta
RavJeet Randhawa – British Columbia
Lorence De La Cruz -Manitoba
Thomas Ndong – Quebec
Ben Power – New Brunswick
2019 U17 Girls MVP & First Team All-Stars
Kiandra Browne – Quebec – Most Valuable Player
Deja Lee – British Columbia
Louella Allana – Quebec
Mimi Sigue – Alberta
Tea Demong – Alberta
Ornella Niankan – Quebec
2019 U17 Girls Second-Team All-Stars
Samantha Russell- Nova Scotia
Jayme Foreman – Ontario
Jessica Clarke – British Columbia
Kennedy Hollinger – Saskatchewan
Yvonne Ejim – Alberta
2019 U15 Girls MVP & First Team All-Stars
Cassandra Prosper – Quebec – Most Valuable Player
Christine Geraldo – Quebec
Delaney Gibb – Alberta
Cheyenne Rowe – Ontario
Sophie-Anne Bouffard – Quebec
Lemyah Hylton – Ontario
2019 U15 Girls Second-Team All-Stars
Taija Sta Maria – Ontario
Jessica Keripe – New Brunswick
Julia Tuchscherer – British Columbia
Treyah Paquette – Manitoba
Lauren Hainstock – Nova Scotia
Ashitei Twins Loyalty Towards Ottawa Phoenix Basketball Club
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.
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.
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.”
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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