CALGARY, AB–Hard work pays off.
It may be the typical cliche used in basketball…but it’s the absolute truth.
Ali Raza, a 6’5 do-it-all forward from Crescent Heights secondary in Calgary, is proof of the overused saying.
Last year, Raza attended the Northern Exposure Camp and was practically invisible on the floor, among the rest of the talent in the gym. From that point, Raza made sure he would make a statement the following year by improving on his weaknesses.
“I didn’t even get looked at, I didn’t make the Top 20 game last year and it hurt me, but I worked my ass off for it…it feels so good,” Raza told NPH.
Fast forward 365 days, and Ali Raza has taken home the MVP of 2013 Northern Exposure Camp. The senior posted 20 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in the final game, which featured the top performers throughout the weekend–leading his team to victory.
“Next year I just have to keep building off this; absorb what I learned, and keep progressing by working on my weaknesses.”
Ali Raza is not the player that will ‘wow’ you with speed and athleticism. Instead, he caught our eye with his consistent effort, hunger and versatility. He is the type of player that will absorb information and apply it to his game, the type that will ask questions to find out how to improve his game, he is the type to take on challenges, despite how big they may be.
Raza had the task of guarding Mathieu Kamba (2014 6’4 W/ Bishop McNally) all weekend. Kamba was a stand out due to his elite physical attributes, recording 22 points, six rebounds, and four blocks in the loss.
Mathieu Kamba has a high ceiling, with great room for growth. Currently in grade 12, Kamba is considering a post-grad year in Ontario, which will allow him to be challenged daily, and help prepare him for the next level.
However, he will weigh his options following the high school season, where North Pole Hoops will continue tracking him at Bishop McNally.
Otas Iyekekpolor, who posted 12 points and seven rebounds, is a high academic student that has come a long way in the last year. The 6’8 forward went from being a raw and uncoordinated athlete, to now adding confidence, assertiveness and improved footwork. Otas Iyekekpolor’s strong motor has remained the same–a desired attribute at the next level.
Expect his recruitment to pick up as the season progresses…a true diamond in the rough.
NPH Top Performers
- Ali Raza – 2o points, 6 rebounds, 2 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
- Nick Molina- 19 points, one rebound, three assists, 4 steals
- Otas Iyekekpolor – 12 points, 7 rebounds
- Mathieu Kamba – 22 points, 6 rebounds, 6 blocks, 5 rebounds
- Sheldon Pittman – 16 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal
- Max Behrman – 11 points
- Jonah Weyessa – 7 points 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals
Matt Fullerton VS Eliada Ewa
Those in attendance at the 2013 Northern Exposure Camp were treated to a glimpse of the future in Alberta basketball. The underclassmen Top 20 game, was headlined by two talented point guards that went to battle inch for inch, blow for blow.
Eliada Ewa (2018 5’6 PG/ Calgary French & International) and Matt Fullerton (2017 5’7 PG/ St Vincent DePaul) were purposely put in head-t0-head competition in the final game to analyze the match up.
Each player lead the way creating for themselves and teammates. Eliada Ewa displayed a great change of pace, while eluding defenders in the process and weaving through traffic to effortlessly get to the rim. Ewa would go on to earn MVP honours…but not by much as Fullerton was right in the mix.
Mike Fullerton is a tough player with a relentless work ethic and yo-yo dribbling abilities. His physique is ahead of the curve, along with his skill set.
The third standout among the youngsters was Vlad Zasmolin (2016 6’3 SF/ Winston Churchill) who was a force inside, while also showing versatility.
Special Thanks to John Hegwood and CYDC Basketball
John Hegwood and CYDC have been gracious hosts to the North Pole Hoops family for the past three years and it was once again a pleasure to be at the Northern Exposure camp.
Hegwood and co. work tirelessly all year-round to offer development opportunities within the Calgary basketball community. Based off the young talent that we saw on the come up, it looks like they have an exciting group of players to work with.
It was also a pleasure meeting Don Phillips, former NAIT coach (CCAA) who volunteered his time during the weekend to coach, work with the prospects in attendance and share his knowledge with North Pole Hoops.
Last but not least, Coach Barrie Curtis was in attendance once again, making the three-hour trip from Edmonton to coach at camp.
Without the following sponsors, this event would not be possible. Thank you to Nike, Santos Inc., Peloton, Pizza 73 and T. L Litzen.
The future of basketball in Calgary looks promising, but it’s crucial that players at all ages remain focused on improving day by day…and of course, living in the gym.