“Nobody wanted him; everybody said he was too small. I watched two or three games on him, and I wanted him really bad.”
These were the first words that came out of Coach Kyle Julius’ mouth, after discussing the game against London, where 5’9 Omar Strong dropped another 30-piece, 32 points to be exact, following a 31-point performance to open the season against Brampton.
“The kid came up on his own from Baltimore for a work out, and I’ve loved him ever since, continued Julius, Head Coach of the Mississauga Power.
Strong went 10 of 17 from the field, and 8 of 14 from deep, leading the Power over London 109-90 moving Mississauga to 2-0 on the season.
“It’s not just because he makes shots, his approach to the game and approach to life, he’s a phenomenal human being. We have a 20-step plan to recruit guys and he fits every step.”
The Power lead the game from start to finish, however London made a mini-run lead by Emmanuel Little (24 points) Stephen McDowell (23) in the fourth quarter that cut it down to 12, forcing Julius to call for timeout.
“I’m disappointed with our second half for sure, I didn’t like the individual decisions we were making. It’s hard to play with lead, really hard,” he said.
Speaking to Strong after the game, he explained his path leading into Mississauga, after previously playing in Bulgaria last season.
“It’ very difficult getting a job, a guy my size. But I just put in the work and prove people wrong, that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life,” Strong told North Pole Hoops.
Strong has been known to score the ball, at Texas Southern, the Baltimore product averaged 17 points per game en route to 2013 SWAC conference player of the year.
Against the Lightning, he displayed a two-way game locking up defensively, and so did much of the team.
“That’s my role, growing up I knew I had to bother people, make them uncomfortable and make shots.”
There was a sense of comradery for the Power and it was contagious from the floor, to the bench, and into the Hershey Centre crowd of 1,204 fans strong.
On one specific play, NBL Canada first overall pick Jordan Weidner literally ripped the ball from a London Lightning player to gain possession, best representing the grit and toughness of this team. It seemed that on several occasions throughout the game, the Power fed off of these hustle plays which had the bench thoroughly engaged.
“That’s what we do, we defend,” said Power assistant coach Mihai Raducanu. In order to maintain high energy levels, the Power use a full rotation of player, illustrated by six players in double figures.
In addition to Strong’s 32, Travis Releford and Jaushay Rockett (how’s that for a name?) put in 16 apiece. Kirk Williams posted 15, while Canadian guard duo of Tut Ruach and Alex Johnson added 12 and 10 respectively.
The team has genuine chemistry and it’s only the second game of the season.
Below is a tweet by Tut Ruach, starting guard for the Mississauga Power
— Tut Ruach (@Tutmyownhorn) November 9, 2014
Strong, who is currently averaging over 30 points per game, is grateful for the situation he is in and the opportunity provided by Coach Julius and staff.
“He’s a great guy, he gave me a chance and I can’t thank him enough. I just come in here and work hard for him every single day because he was the one that gave me a shot. A lot of people passed up on me,” said Strong, referring to Julius.
“Coming in at practice I was thinking we have a great team, then I was thinking about the history of the team…I said man, we’re about to turn this program around 360,” said Strong, with full confidence.
The Mississauga Power now 2-0, and will take on the Brampton A’s on November 13, as they look to remain undefeated.
Omar Strong is excited about what the future holds for Mississauga basketball.
“We about to fill these stands up.”