It’s hard not to notice Jonathan Nicola on a basketball court. At 6-foot-10 with size 16 feet and sporting fully-established stubble, the 17-year-old Grade 11 Windsor, Ont., hoops star stands out among the crowd of high schooler.
And for good reason.
Like the plot of a terrible movie, Nicola is believed to be an adult masquerading as a high school student at Catholic Central High School in Windsor.
According to the Canadian border services, Nicola, a recent refugee from Sudan, isn’t 17. He’s 30. And, now, under arrest, currently being held at the South West Detention Centre. The news comes from a report from the Windsor Star Thursday morning:
The Canada Border Services Agency said Wednesday officers arrested Nicola for allegedly contravening the Immigration Refugee Protection Act. He is being detained under the authority of that act. The agency didn’t elaborate on what Nicola, who is in Canada on a student visa, is accused of doing.
In a previous feature story, Nicola had told the Star that he had fled Sudan amid war and turmoil in his native country, first arriving in Windsor in November 2015, three days shy of his 17th birthday, and that after a six-month process he had obtained a student visa in Canada.
As part of the Canada Homestay program for foreign students, Nicola had been living with Catholic Central Comets high school basketball coach Pete Cusumano, who is retiring from teaching at the end of the school year.
Cusumano didn’t comment on the story as the investigation is ongoing. A Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board spokesperson briefly elaborated:
“There’s really not a whole lot to say,” said spokesman Stephen Fields. “Because of the fact this is a matter that’s still outstanding before the federal authorities, obviously we can’t really comment on it.”
When asked if there was concern over the thought of a grown man posing as a teenager in one of the board’s schools, Fields said he wouldn’t comment specifically on the Nicola case.
“Generally I can tell you that we have a system of checks and balances in place that whenever international students are coming into any of our schools, we make sure that they have all of the necessary government documentation that they require in order to be in one of our schools,” said Fields.
He also wouldn’t discuss whether the board plans to alert students and parents about the situation.
In February, a highlight video of Nicola, who some believed had pro potential considering his advanced skill-set given his age, was released and can be seen here:
Nicola and the Comets finished the 2015-16 season with a 25-10 record before losing in the WECSSAA championship game.
We’ll have updates as they become available.