Hello Canada! The despite not participating in the 2014 FIBA World Cup the good news keeps on rolling for Canadian basketball fans.
In a never seen before move that will have a significant impact and a ripple effect on the entire Canadian basketball landscape – from HS, Prep, AAU and all the way to the NBA and including the Senior Men’s National team. Thon Maker a 7-foot, 210lbs forward and the top 2016 prospect currently in the United States of America is transferring to Canada for his next destination in a long journey that traces back to Australia and South Sudan.
Rumours broke out early Wednesday morning that Maker had transferred from Carlisle School in Martinsville, Virginia where he resided with his brother Matur and legal guardian Edward Smith who has been taking care of the 7-foot Sudanese prospects since their arrival in the U.S in early 2010.
Thon posted an image on his official Instagram account alongside his brother inside the three-year-old Athlete Institute Prep (ACTS) facility which is located 45 minutes north of Toronto in Orangeville, Ontario. The 16-year phenom is also considering Hopewell Academy in North Carolina as an alternative option.
Maker and his camp got a taste of Canadian hospitality back in the summer of 2013 when Maker participated in Drake’s 2nd Annual OVO Bounce Classic. The summer event coincides with Toronto’s annual Caribana event and provided the perfect backdrop to lure Maker and his camp to Canada. Maker then a ninth-grader went up against Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson, holding his own in the tournament’s final and further intriguing speculations as to what he was doing in Toronto in the first-place.
Inside a buzzing Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre I had the opportunity to chat with Thon and his guardian Edward Smith who openly discussed their intentions of bringing Makur to Canada and were in town to iron out some visa issues. When asked about his young phenom’s prospect of playing international ball for Australia, Smith sighted that because he never played for any country all options were on the table, including the possibility of Canadian basketball fans seeing Makur in a red and white jersey, rather the green and yellow colours of their Commonwealth brothers who are also witnessing their own rise in the game of basketball.
With the USA national team out of the picture and Australia completely in the opposite end of North American time zone, Canada, which also boasts a growing and stable economic relationship with Sudan makes the made the sense for Maker and his team.
After two days of intense training and ironing out the necessary details Smith confirmed that Maker would indeed be staying in Canada, completing a major national basketball coupe for Canada!
“We believe this is the best decision for Thon, Matur and my family,” said Ed Smith, Maker’s guardian who will be an assistant coach with the Athlete Institute. “The strength and condition program is tremendous and is the main factor of this decision. Playing with high-level players such as Jamal Murray and Jalen Poyser, and playing an international schedule, as well as many games back in the states makes the schedule strong. The academic component has everything in place.”
“We are excited to have both Thon and Matur join our program, as they are great players and people,” coach Larry Blunt said.
“It’s definitely the right fit for me,” Thon Maker said. “I came up here last year, but now I got a chance to see both the academic and athletic side, and I was really impressed. It will certainly help me attain one of my goals, and that is to change my body over time.”
Orangeville Prep Canadian Basketball Powerhouse
First, it was Kitchener, Ontario guard Jamal Murray (2013 Jordan Brand International game MVP) who decided to stay close to home and join the Athlete Institute Bears instead of doing like most Canadians have, bouncing Stateside “for exposure and high competition.” With Maker and his talented brother in the picture which also includes several other top Canadian basketball prospects who are returning home (Jaylen Posner) after gaining a successful experience in the US and you have all the right ingredients for a Canadian basketball prep powerhouse that has the potential to compete with some of the top American programs (Huntington Prep (WV), Findlay Pilots (NV), St. Benedict’s (NJ), Montverde Prep (FL) that have played a pivotal role in giving Canada their recent basketball heroes.
Potential third number one pick for Canada in four/five years?
There is no doubt Maker’s game is NBA ready the only question(s) is will he go first overall when he does declare for the NBA draft? With Canada racking-up, the previous two first-overall picks in Anthony Bennett (2013) and Andrew Wiggins (2014) will Thon Maker become the next Canadian player to go number one in 2016 or 2017?
Impact on Canadian Senior Men’s National Team?
Can you imagine this line-up down the road at the 2016 Olympics in Rio or at the FIBA Americas?
Cory Joseph, Tyler Ennis, Nik Stauskas, Andrew Wiggins, Thon Maker, Tristan Thompson, Kelly Olynk, Robert Scare, Trey Lyles, Andrew Nicholson, Brady Heslip, Khem Birch? Pretty special right? Before any of this happens, Makur will have to become a naturalized Canadian citizen, a process that is not guaranteed and pretty complex, just ask former Toronto Raptor Matt Bonner who for years was rumoured to be joining the Canadian national team.
Shak Pryce magical shot earns Pine Ridge Pumas back-to-back OFSAA gold
Hamilton, Ont — In what will surely go down as one of best finishes in Ontario Federation Schools Athletic Association (OFSAA) basketball history, senior guard Shak Pryce — playing in his final high school game, buried his final shot — an unbelievable “shot of the year” candidate as the Pine Ridge Pumas (Pickering) edged upstart La Salle Black Trojan Knights (Kingston) 51-48 to win the 2019 OFSAA AAA gold medal game.
The previous possession, with the game tied at 48-48 all with 43 seconds remaining — 35-second shot clock winding down and the ball in La Salle’s premier guard Luka Syllas, Pryce determined to end his career as a champion pulled-up his shorts, started clapping and clamped defensively blocking Syllas shot attempt to give the Pumas the ball back with 9.3 seconds remaining via jump ball possession arrow rule.
Coming out of the timeout there was little to no doubt as to who was going to get the last shot, as Pumas’ head coach Cam Nekkers put the ball is senior guard’s hands delivering a magical march madness moment that will be buzzing for decades to come.
The gameplay was interrupted by a deliberate fire alarm nuance, causing a 15-minute delay.
Memories of Devoe Joseph’s final shot, game-winner to the defeat the Eastern Commerce Saints at the buzzer of the 2008 OFSAA AAAA Gold medal come to mind, only this time the trophy is going down south of Brock St. as Pine Ridge becomes the first LOSSA school to earn back-to-back titles of OFSAA’s top division since arch-rivals Pickering Trojans accomplished the feat in 2007-2008.
Whitby’s Anderson C.V.I (LOSSA) featuring Justin Edwards (Maine/Kansas State) and Dyshawn Pierre (Dayton Flyers) won back-to-back AAA gold medals in 2010-2011, however OFSAA was using a four-tiered (level) format with AAAA being the top division. OFSAA, since 2015-16 reverted back to a three-tier competition.
Canada’s Finest: Lindell Wigginton
2017 Canadian Guard Lindell Wiggington from Nova Scotia is Canada’s next rising star.
Balling out of the famous Oak Hill Academy academy program that is synonymous with NBA development, Wigginton has been on tear solidify his name and game.
Wiggington a 6’1, 180lbs point guard has committed to the Iowa State Cyclones commit and is the first Canadian Basketball player to attend Oakhill academy.
Cliche put to rest – Canada’s Orangeville Prep develop two lottery NBA players
Basketball… So many thoughts come to one’s mind after hearing that noun. The game has made us judge, argue, hate and even fight. Yet we still love this game and wouldn’t change it for the world. Yes there are cons, but the pros outweighs the cons by far. The game of basketball has turned nightmares to fairytales for many! It has helped people put racial tension aside, it’s brought life and hope to millions of families and overall it has impacted the world in a fascinating fashion. Since its existence in 1891 it seems as though the game has never seized to keep growing. From a sport that was just known in North America for most of the 20th century, Basketball is now ranked as the third most popular sport in the world trailing only cricket and soccer.
The number of youth playing basketball worldwide has seen some record breaking numbers the past few decades; it’s fair to say that most of these kids have one common dream – to play in the most popular basketball league in the world the ‘National Basketball Association’. Many may ask when did making it to the NBA become such a world-wide dream? It happened in the summer of 1992, the first year that the Olympic committee allowed active NBA players to part-take in the America basketball team.
This team would go on to be known as the ‘Dream Team’ and to many sports writers the greatest team in all of sports. The Dream Team featured NBA legends such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and many other NBA greats. They won by an average of 44 points. But their greatest accomplishment was not destroying teams and winning the gold. It was showcasing the essence of pure basketball talent and the NBA. Making it the first time for practically all international countries to see what the NBA was and is all about. Many great international players such as Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and many others credit the Dream Team for allowing the NBA to become more international.
Today the NBA has over 80 international players from over 40 countries. This has made in sort for more and more high schools and prep schools around the world to construct great basketball programs for their schools. Leaving plenty high schoolers with the dream of making it to make the NBA. Despite high school student’s 0.3% chances of fulfilling their childhood basketball dreams High schools and prep schools have still done a phenomenal job in building amazing basketball programs world-wide. When people think of great high school and prep school basketball programs there are few teams that come to mind right away. Such as Oak Hill Academy who’s produced 27 NBA players, DeWitt Clinton who produced 19 NBA players, Dematha Catholic who’s produced 14, Laurinburg Institute 12. The list goes on but these four notable high schools and prep schools have developed the most NBA players. That is not to say that there aren’t many other great basketball programs. However, there has been a cliché amongst the youth that only schools in America can develop NBA players.
That cliché was recently put to rest after two players who came out of Canada’s Orangeville Prep got selected in the 2016 NBA Draft! Kitchener, Ontario’s own Jamal Murray who was picked at #7 by the Denver Nuggets and Sudanese/Australian and adopted Canadian Thon Makur who was picked at #10 by the Milwaukee Bucks. Orangeville District Secondary School’s mission is “to provide exceptional educational opportunities as well as state of the art basketball facility and development for high school student athletes looking to make their passion for basketball a reality at the next level.” They’ve done a tremendous job of that and should be proud.
BasketballBuzz took the time to interview both Murray and Makur head coach at Orangeville Prep Larry Blunt who recently coached the Oshawa Power in the NBL Canada and who coached at the NCAA level for eight years.
BB: Coach can you tell us your thoughts on seeing two of your old boys Murray & Makur get drafted to the NBA?
LB: I think it’s exciting when you get an opportunity to see things work out for the boys. This gives us the opportunity to hopefully replicate it
BB : You seen the two come in as boys and transformed into men, how has that process been like?
LB: That process has been great. I think we can see it especially with Thon in the way he transformed his body. And with both of them you can see great transition they made emotionally and every other part of their game.
BB: How have you managed to keep your team so relevant with all the powerhouse teams you guys play in the states?
LB: Our guys play with a chip on their shoulders. Knowing that they need to go get the respect from their peers. We’ve been getting great feedbacks especially the last two years with Makur & Murray success. We touched success at not only the NBA but also the division 1 level which has been great.
BB : What has been the toughest challenge for your boys?
LB: Everything has been tough. Nothing is given here, I think the getting to practice at 3 or 4 then having to go to class has prepared them well. No favour is giving, kids have to fight, they do not have it easy and had to work for everything they had.
BB: What can we expect from Murray and Makur in the NBA?
LB: I think both of their game will translate well into the NBA. Especially with the new NBA, Thon can take advantage of the space with his shots. Especially with the new rule to get your hands off guys. Jamal Murray is a traditional point guard. I don’t think the world seen Jamal Murray in the global games and Nike tournaments where he ran a team. I think that is a skill set that the world will see. They also both possess a great work ethic.
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