The rise of Canadian basketball has gone through many lenses and exciting transformations over the past twenty years.
The past two decades have seen Canada transform itself from an underdeveloped basketball nation to now being the greatest single exporter of basketball talent in the world outside it’s friendly but competitive neighbour, the United States of America.
Respect is earned, not given and when it comes to basketball there is nobody better than “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
America has long dominated the Canadian invented sport, claiming notoriety on a global scale by creating the greatest collegiate (NCAA) and professional basketball leagues (NBA, WNBA) in the world — but also by developing an intricate competitive youth development system that powers, generates and helps the USA maintain front row, pole position on the fastest rising sport in the world.
Lagging behind largely due to its large landscape, smaller but growing multi-culture population, cold winters and still under-funded sports system — Canadian basketball players have long-faced an uphill battle to not only earn NCAA basketball scholarships, but also to make an impact on the game on a global stage.
Canada Basketball Long Term Athlete Development Model
Looking for changes and tired of coming-up short on the international level, Canada Basketball, the country’s sport governing body introduced several key strategic initiatives in 2003 — including the Long Term Athlete Development Model (LTAD) designed to turn the nation into a world basketball leader in 2020.
While comprehensive and well-structured, the athlete centered, coach driven model addressed many of the underlying issues plaguing the sport — but it neglected the inclusion of the grassroots movement, the rise and demand for better competition, adequate training facilities and an outdated high school basketball system that still provides very little incentives and exposure for top players to develop their talents in it.
Bursting at the seems with pent-up demand and tired of the same old political rhetoric, the Canadian basketball landscape slowly started to change as grassroots coaches across the country looked to the USA for a lesson on what made them so dominate and successful.
The rise of Canadian basketball prep schools
Enter the “high school prep” model, a new breed of Canadian high school basketball academies offering elite training, exposure and ultimately the most coveted of them all, a NCAA basketball scholarship. The model proved too lucrative for many to pass-up with programs popping up monthly from east to west coast.
The booming business attracted plenty of attention and even got Canada’s Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to spend nearly eight months producing an investigative report for it’s longest running show The Fifth Estate. Titled “Fast Break” and released in 2012, the hour-long show focused on exposing the business of high school basketball and the coaches who scout Canadian inner-city high school students chasing US college athletic scholarships.
Eight years later, the scope of the lens has changed and instead of producing damaging investigative reports, the public broadcaster has gone all in on the sport by focusing on telling the positive stories surrounding the game and securing media rights to the emerging Canadian Elite Basketball of League (CEBL).
Now, the public funded broadcaster has doubled-up and partnered-up with BestCrosses Studios and Game Seven Media to produce “Anyone’s Game” a new six episode original docu-series giving Canadian basketball fans an exclusive inside look at Orangeville Prep Bears, Canada’s top high school basketball program.
Orangeville Prep The Brain Child of Jesse Tipping
Founded in 2010 by Orangeville, Ontario native Jesse Tipping with a vision of keeping Canada’s top high school basketball players at home, the academy provides an unmatched and impressive set of facilities including a 12, 000 square-foot field-house with NBA regulation baskets, a state-of-the-art training centre, a 24, 000 square-foot indoor sports dome and 100-plus person residence that serves as the home for the Bears teams.
Under the guidance and tutelage of well respected head coach Tony McIntyre, Orangeville Prep has quickly attracted some of Canada’s best talent. The program has sent over forty (40) graduates to coveted Division 1 NCAA basketball schools with a total of seven former players earning NBA roster spots — most notably Denver Nuggets superstar Jamal Murray, Oklohama City’s Luguentz Dort, and Toronto Raptors’ Oshae Brissett.
Anyone’s Game directed by star-studded crew
Directed by Michael Hamilton, executive produced by Kyle McCutcheon and a star-studded team of producers, editors and story tellers, the highly anticipated series follows the highs and lows, the inspirations and disappointments of Orangeville Prep as they navigate through their season both at home and on the road battling for respect against some top prep teams across North America.
With unprecedented access to the facilities, team and players, Anyone’s Game production crew focused on telling the stories, journeys and struggles of the program with a special focus on Oklahoma State freshman forward Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, point-guard Shemar Rathan-Mayes and showcasing the ultimate sacrifice of Jeff Ngandu — a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who left his family behind in Central Africa to pursue his dream of one day earning a NCAA scholarship and potentially playing in the NBA.
Anyone’s Game will premiere on Friday, January 15th 2021 at 8:30 p.m. eastern time across all CBC TV channels including its free CBC Gem streaming service. Additional episodes will be released weekly with the last episode expected to air on February 12th 2021.