Newfoundland Basketball Fountain of Youth

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While continuing to connect the dots from coast to coast in Canada, Newfoundland was a mandatory stop to make. This was the first time that the NPH Showcase Circuit made it’s way that far east and if there’s one thing we’ve learned in our travels, its that there is talent absolutely everywhere in Canada. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador, a place generally untapped and often unexposed finally had its opportunity.

Upperclassmen shooting guard, Akec Tong and underclassmen guard Caleb Sooley earned MVP status while several others mentioned below got onto the national radar. Among the names below, a handful of underclassmen prospects that should be changing the game forever in Newfoundland, considering they stay on the path. We call them the Fountain of Youth.

The one name immediately associated with Newfoundland is Carl English. He is truly a living legend and one of the best Canadian players ever; a Team Canada veteran and long time pro.

Fresh off of a flight from his pro season in Germany, English made his way into the gym to greet the prospects and lay down some advice on some necessary steps to reach their basketball goals.

The underclassmen at camp took his words seriously. Newfoundland’s 2020 class onward, have prospects that will be opening eyes for the rest of the country in years to come. One in particular was class of 2021 guard Arpandeep Singh. Singh and his family are a part of the wave of migrants into the East that will shape and positively evolve the culture in the province.

Outside of being a legit prospect to keep tabs on, Singh has a 94% academic average and speaks three languages; Punjabi, Italian and English.

Below are the top 10 prospects that stuck out among the group. Nicholas Tuff, a 2018 6’8 PF also deserves recognition. He was unable to play in the final game due to a sprained ankle on the final day.

Tuff owned the paint, finishing around the basket and connecting from mid range. A Canadian University caliber talent with ceiling that has not been scratched.

Newfoundland NPH Showcase Top Prospects

Devin Oleary | 2018 | 6’2 | SG | 155lbs | Holy Heart

Primary ball handler with slithery steps to get himself in the lane and get the defense to collapse before finding a cutter or back door. Placement of his passes put teammates in position for open looks.

Nicholas Fowler | 2018 | 6’5 | SG | 200lbs | Holy Heart

Strong physical frame, absorbs contact and finishes through it. Effective with limited dribbles, one or two gets the job done. Establishes rebounding position, secures and pushes the ball ahead.

Liam Chislett | 2018 | 5’10 | PG | 170lbs | Holy Heart

Liam is a former MVP who took it home at the NPH Showcase when he and a few team members made their way to Halifax last year. High IQ and court sense. Excellent pick and roll, pick and pop player. Making improvements at creating separation between defender. As a spot up shooter he’s knock down.

Photo by Curtis Pennell
Top Row: Nicholas Fowler, Devin Oleary, Caleb Sooley, Chris Edwards, Matthew Pennell
Bottom Row: Liam Chislett, Akec Tong, Arpandeep Singh, Dem Lam, Joshua Reimer

Akec Tong | 2019 | 6’4 | SG/SF |160lbs | St. Bonaventure’s College

Akec Tong really turned it up on day three of camp and owned it for the most part. He showed the ability to create from the perimeter with an initial long stride and also get defenders off their feet using jabs and pump fakes. Tong can also stroke the three ball with efficiency. Working on his body will be the next step, adding muscle mass.

Chris Edwards | 2019 | 5’8 | PG | Gonzaga High

As a spot up shooter he was knock down throughout the weekend. Fundamentally sound, tough, has the IQ to pick his poison. Made good reads and decisions when driving baseline, deciphering between when to pull out and reset, use the floater or finish strong. Must improve overall speed and explosiveness.

Matthew Pennell | 2020 | 5’11| PG |155 | St. Peters Jr High

One of the tighter handles at camp. A name we were familiar with from previous years. Temperament under pressure is under control. Doesn’t get stifled by the defense and has the counter moves to keep dribble alive.

Dem Lam | 2020 | 5’11| PG, SG | 142lbs | Brother Rice Junior High

Dem Lam is a great ball of potential. He’s new to the game and has a lot of work to do to harness his speed in the open court. We slowed him down a bit and got him in control without taking away his strength, Lam proved to be effective. Showed that he can connect from distance on the open three.

Caleb Sooley | 2021 | 6’4 | PG/SG | 170lbs | Rothesay Netherwood

The most skilled scorer, passer and play maker of the underclassmen in this event. He is well ahead of the kids in the province. Able to play either guard position and is evolving as a leader. Defensively, he picked it up in his outing and took home MVP for the underclassmen. He’ll take a bigger role with Rothesay Netherwood next high school season in the National Preparatory Association with senior guards graduating.

Arpandeep Singh | 2021 | 6’2 | G | 160lbs | Waterford Valley High School

Cradle pull up, hesitation moves, step backs and more. Arpandeep Singh is an eighth grader that did not look out of place among much older competition. He remained locked in and focused, through drills, games and classroom session. The upside on this prospect speaks to the potential of the province as a whole.

Joshua Reimer | 2021 | 6’2 | SG | 150lbs | Brother Rice Junior High

Joshua Reimer was another one of the young guns that made his mark. A very coordinated shooting guard that asses the floor before making his move. Proven to be a good shooter from three. If he improves and adds speed to his handle will be much more effective off the dribble.

Challenges Faced in Advancement of Basketball in Newfoundland

St. John’s, in particular is isolated in geographically and separated from the other provinces by a body of water. Travel is expensive to get out often and seek outside competition. Gym time is hard to come by and the rainy and windy climate doesn’t allow prospects to simply go outside and practice.

As a result, kids within the province are not challenged enough through competition, more so it’s the elements.

Through all this, there is a support system of individuals including provincial team coaches and trainers who are ready to help make the difference.

What I’ve learned most about Newfoundlanders is that they don’t make excuses. They have that “if there’s a will, there’s a way” type of attitude.

For the young guns in attendance, they have received the blueprint and have an opportunity to shape the direction of the sport in Newfoundland forever.

 

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