Golden age of Canadian hoops is here to stay

Andrew Wiggins (Jason DeCrow/AP)

With a record amount of Canadians drafted into the NBA in 2014, I thought it was time to look into what decisions young players have to make early in their basketball careers. While it is true that every summer AAU programs and national teams play a huge role in a player’s development, the majority of most teenagers’ time is spent in high school. Yet, the decision of where to play between the ages of 14 and 18 is often overlooked.

Canadian lottery picks Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas and Tyler Ennis all spent the majority of their time south of the border at American prep schools… Thompson, Joseph and Bennett all ended up at Findlay Prep, which is where I decided to start my journey.

As I have written about before, there are also many examples of Canadian players achieving success while staying at home. Kevin Pangos is a prime example, as is Dyshawn Pierre who spent his entire high school career in Whitby, Ont. before helping the Dayton Flyers reach the Sweet 16 this past March.

But traditional Canadian high schools face new problems every season—from teacher strikes to restrictive training times to battling the lure of American basketball factories that promise competition players can’t find at home.

The basketball community in Canada has a bit of a history of in-fighting, but there is one thing everyone can agree on: The sooner our best players end up staying at home, the better it will be for the sport in our country.

My next stop was a unique school environment, Bill Crothers Secondary School.

Recently Rashad McCants admitted to taking ‘paper classes’ during his time at U.N.C.. The NCAA long been rumored to give players free passse when it came to their schoolwork, but that is no longer the case.

Now more than ever, young players must keep their grades up to snuff before chasing their Division-1 basketball dreams. As such, new basketball start-ups in Canada must be able to properly prepare their players for the academic challenges they’ll face at the next level. The Athlete Institute is on the verge of becoming a special destination for players looking for the specific tools needed to succeed both on and off the court.

This web series had three goals: To inform young players in Canada that staying home is becoming a more and more viable option; to highlight the importance of academics for each and every player that dribbles a basketball; and, like always, to remind viewers that Canadian boom in the NBA is only just beginning and there’s a lot more to come.

The “Golden Age of Canadian basketball” has been coming for a while—and it’s here to stay.

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