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A Canadian AAU rivalry is born as star studded lineups take the court this weekend in Hampton, Viriginia at the start of the prestigious Nike EYBL circuit. CIA Bounce, a recognized and reputable program, and UPlay Canada the fastest developing club program in the country will be playing in the same division. In many ways this season decides which team sits atop of the hill as Canada’s top club.
This year Nike has turned it up a notch in flaring the rivalry league-wide, by setting up divisions that have many regional powers facing each other right from the jump.
The plethora of talent in the North has been rewarded by Nike adding a second sponsored Canadian team (UPlay Canada) to the circuit. The Great White North clearly has the depth in talent to support and field two elite teams. Both squads have the depth to go deep into the summer with the EYBL’s grande finale, Peach Jam.
CIA Bounce and UPlay will meet once at the end of the summer in the final session in California. Until then, their regular season record will determine who qualifies for Peach Jam after Cali.
Nike UPlay Canada Preview
UPlay had made a name for itself far before becoming a Nike sponsored team. In fact, that is partly why Nike sponsored them. There’s a reputation of being a self-sustainable program that has helped develop and send high school players to the NCAA and Canadian Universities long before their sponsorship came into play.
For example, this year’s graduating class of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky commit), Abu Kigab (Oregon commit) and Shamiel Stevenson (Pittsburgh commit), all of which are top 10 ranked players in the Canadian 2017 class, all played under the UPlay banner before EYBL was on the calendar.
Now that’s not to say that that the addition of the following names didn’t assist in Nike’s decision; it just made it a no brainer. After all, it is a player run industry.
Rowan Barrett Jr is the name that has been buzzing louder across North America over the past two seasons. He is suiting up with UPlay Canada along with Canada’s number one overall point guard, Andrew Nembhard, also a teammate of Barrett at Montverde Academy.
The two are sure to have a rally of coaches coming courtside to watch their games. Yet it doesn’t stop there. UPlay’s roster goes deep at all positions.
Developing high level forward, Tyrese Samuel is expected to play major minutes and be a threat on both ends with his versatility. He will be the surprise that most NCAA coaches aren’t familiar with yet.
Meanwhile Kaosi Ezeagu, another fairly unknown will man the paint. At 6’10 and with defensive instincts he is going to cause some ruckus for anyone attacking the rim.
AJ Lawson, a kid that’s building a rep for hitting buzzer beaters will also be suited with this squad.
Overall, the team chemistry for this bunch is on par for a deep run. Systematically, the pieces fit and there are no egos that could disrupt. In their first year in EYBL at the 17U level, UPlay Canada is sure to turn some heads.
Nike CIA Bounce Preview
CIA Bounce for a long time has been Canada’s team on the AAU circuit, providing a top notch opportunity for prospects to be seen by hundreds of NCAA coaches throughout the spring and summer.
Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Ennis, Jamal Murray are all names that established and cemented the program’s name.
Since the arrival of other brands such as Under Armour’s Canada Elite, Adidas’ Brookwood Elite and now UPlay Canada, the landscape for recruiting has changed as opportunities have grown.
Even so, the CIA Bounce roster in line for this weekend is very powerful and carries many of the nation’s top ranked prospects.
Simi Shittu is the main attraction. He currently holds the number one spot in North Pole Hoops National Player Rankings for 2018. Shittu holds offers from Alabama, Louisville, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Texas, UCLA and more.
He and Ignas Brazdeikis bring the experienced fire power that will make up for a lot of CIA Bounce’s offence. Brazdeikis is fresh off of an MVP for the high school season. He’ll look to make a decision near the end of the summer as to whether or not he returns for the 2017-2018 season.
Both offensive and defensive efficiency for this team could take a hit as Danilo Djuricic has opted out of a post-grad year and committed to Harvard. He was a primary contributor on both ends in EYBL.
The team will look to the ball handling of Joel Brown to set the table for new coming sniper Quincy Guerrier by way of Quebec. He and Laoui Msambya are additions that will create options and keep the defense honest.
CIA Bounce’s challenge this season will be balance the touches and shots as there are multiple players that operate best with the ball in their hands or are volume guys.
It is without a doubt the most competitive playing field of any circuit during the AAU season and it all starts this Friday in Virgnia. Keep it locked on NorthPoleHoops.com all summer as we bring coverage from across North America.