Two years ago at the Richmond Olympic Oval in British Columbia, I witnessed a highly skilled 6’3 point guard dominate his competition at the BC #NPHShowcase.
I looked over to his club coaches, and said “you guys have something special here,” referring to Jermaine Haley, now standing at 6’7, at the point guard position.
“He’s always been a talented athlete; over the last two years, he has taken a serious approach to his game and is now realizing what basketball can do for him,” coach Pasha Bains of Drive told North Pole Hoops.
Karn Sharda, fellow club coach echoed Bains’ thoughts.
“He’s a lot more focused now…about training and getting better. Before you had to push him…now he is taking it upon himself.”
Haley’s recruitment has exploded, particularly after reclassifying to 2016. He initially received an offer from Oregon State last summer, and over the last few weeks, the likes of Memphis, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Oregon and most recently, Louisville getting in the mix.
British Columbia has never had a prospect quite like this…receiving this type of attention…this early.
“It’s probably the highest level of recruitment a British Columbia player has ever received,” said Bains, a former ACC player himself at Clemson.
A major statement when you take into acount the players that have come out of the province; Steve Nash, Rob Sacre and Kelly Olynyk, to name a few…all in the NBA.
With this type of acknowledgement, criticism and pressure follows.
After earning his Top-10 North Pole Hoops National ranking two years ago, I remember seeing and hearing negative feedback and claims of “overhyping” this BC prospect…some disapproval came within province, and some outside.
It comes with the territory.
When players are highly regarded, it typically puts a target on their back, forcing players to continue improving, or become exposed.
“Now the spotlight is really on him…some people are going to really support him, and some are going to hope he fails,” said Coach Sharda.
For Haley, early criticism may have been a blessing in disguise as he was able to deal with it and mature at a younger age.
“Playing through all of the attention that I have been getting has been one of the hardest things I think,” the Burnaby South guard explained.
“I think he got hardened, people criticize and nit pick…but he’s not the type of kid to get involved in all that,” said Bains.
“I think he’s taken it well…more motivated than he’s ever been…a lot more impressive on the court, better than I’ve ever seen him.”
Haley has also received great support locally from people in his community.
“There are always gonna be some people who hate but most of the people in Vancouver show me love,” said Haley.
As the cadet national team tryouts begin at the end of June, it will be Haley’s opportunity to face off against Canada’s best, while representing the West Coast.
I recently caught up with Dave DeAveiro, Cadet National Team Head Coach, who spoke highly of the BC product.
“He was the smoothest player with a lot of skill for his size…because he’s such a smooth guy, people might not think he puts out max effort or has a motor.”
Last year at national team camp, Haley suffered a concussion early, after starting off strong in the first session where he strictly played the PG spot.
DeAveiro was impressed with what he saw, even though Haley’s time at camp was limited.
Fast forward a year later, and Haley has grown both mentally and physically.
With that being said, DeAviero explained that he is looking forward to seeing an assertive Jermaine Haley at camp.
“I’d like to see him come to camp and be the best player. I’m sure the competition level in BC is not what it is in Ontario; this will be his opportunity to compete against the Justin’s, Jamal’s, Koby’s,” referring to Justin Jackson, Jamal Murray and Koby McEwan.
“He has to have the mentality of coming for the starting PG spot on the cadet team.” continued DeAveiro.
But that won’t be easy, when you take into consideration the well-documented talent in the Canadian class of 2016. The level of competition will be intense…nothing will be given.
In other words, Haley will have to step up to the plate.
“I want him to be involved, I want him to be a leader; he has to come in and earn the respect of these guys…these guys don’t know Jermaine.”
DeAveiro continued to say that expectations have now changed with the success that Haley’s had thus far.
“It’s going to be a highly competitive camp. It’s about the desire to prove you’re the best in the country.”