North Pole Hoops and the Canadian National Invitational Tournament (CNIT) are proud to be hosting the ONLY annual NCAA Certified tournament in Canada.
More and more university and college coaches on both sides of the border are confirming attendance by the day.
Over 40 NCAA DI, 10 USports, and several CCAA and JUCO programs have confirmed their attendance to recruit in the fastest growing basketball market in the world. Scholarships will be earned in July and the next wave of Canadian talent will make a splash here.
A collection of teams from the 17U age group all the way down to 12U will take the court starting Friday July 21 in hopes of attaining National supremacy by this Sunday.
If interested in watching CNIT action in person check the 2017 CNIT Schedule. Day passes are available for $10 and weekend passes for $25.
This division is loaded with big Canadian names that we’ll soon see in the NCAA and later in the NBA as well as some Canadian university prospects that will ultimately play high level pro.
There is parody here for the most part as no one is safe if they underestimate the others. Below is some background information on some of the high profile teams in attendance.
Looking ahead, I could see Montreal’s Red Rush coming in and shocking teams as they introduce a gritty and highly athletic style of play to the Ontario teams who may not be expecting them to be as powerful as they are.
Canada’s top point guard, or point god as he’s been recently referred to as, Andrew Nembhard is back with a vengeance. NCAA coaches at the highest levels are raving about his play making and court vision.
One coach mentioned to us over last weekend, that he could be the best PG in North America.
He will attempt to carry the team for Nike UPlay Canada in the absence of U19 World Champion Rowan Barrett Jr., who will be taking some time off to rest his body after an exhausting spree of games.
The support of Isaiah Bujdoso, Khaleem Bennett, Kaosi Ezeagu and other key contributors will be needed in a major way if they are to get through their pool with three wins. This team is coming in as the favourite to win it all but there are several teams that could knock them off.
You may not have heard the name before but Red Rush is coming correct from Montreal. An original member of the Red Rush family, Tyrese Samuel will rejoin them, after spending time with UPlay during the EYBL circuit.
CanAmera went deep last year at the 16U level when the CNIT was in the Niagara region and lost to Grassroots in the finals. With a year of experience at CNIT under their built and heavy self-expectation, this is a team that could do damage.
Dalano Banton, a 6’6 point guard is the headliner for CanAmera. Several mid to high major NCAA coaches are coming into to see him specifically. This event will likely be the one that sets off his recruitment as things begin to heat up.
His teammate Stephane Ingo has grown physically and skillfully, while standing at 6’8 and not allowing anything easy around the rim. He and Banton together cause a real threat for opponents on both ends of the floor. Ingo is another sleeper that will see his recruitment flourish.
This team is dangerous because although they have pieces that can shine as individuals, they play very unselfish with fluid ball movement and get high percentage shots.
BiggerThanBasketball (BTB) Elite
BTB comes into 2017 with the most chemistry of all teams. Adham Eleeda the sniper, Zubair Seyed the General, Tarig Eisa a dynamic forward, Patrick Emilien a rising 2019 wing and big man Sukhjot Kalsi.
This core group has played together through numerous AAU season and a few of them played their prep basketball during the high school season at Toronto Basketball Academy.
Last year’s starting guard for BTB, Cordell Veira, made program history as the first to receive an NCAA scholarship. He’s one of the many from last year’s tournament that will move on to the NCAA. Veira heads to Florida International University.
Brookwood Elite 16s
This is another team from Montreal that could go deep in the tournament. Although it is their 16U team that is playing up in age group and replacing the 17s who a resting for the following weekend in Las Vegas, this team has got some bodies that will make noise.
Bryant Selebangue and and Anthony-Fritzgerald Felisma are among the youngest playing up but have what it takes to match up physically and got the skills to produce against other top wings.
Again UPLay comes in as a heavy favourite with the most loaded roster in the tournament at any age group. This is a special group all together.
There are a projected five high major prospects, one of which is “Captain Clutch” AJ Lawson and U19 World Champion Emanuel Miller.
Roles are defined and they have been rolling in a positive direction since their EYBL play in California.
BTB at this age group as well has a roster of players who are familiar with each other’s skill sets and have a well balanced group at different positions.
Marcus Masters is one of those PGs that has a well rounded skill set as a scorer and play maker and will be the one to guide the team.
Amir Gholizadeh is fresh off of picking up his first offer from High Point University during the trip at the Powerade circuit finale in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The combination forwards of Milan Roknic and Aleksander Novcic will man the paint and create some mismatch opportunities to take advantage of.
Let’s start with one of my favourite players in the entire tournament; someone who will likely receive a few offers after this weekend, Jahcobi Neath.
There aren’t many players with his dynamic offensive makeup. He’s poised and under control, scores and defends right away, and is an absolute competitor.
Wazir Latiff, Ian Lee and Kobe Antwi are all guards that add to the punch and deliver from the perimeter.
Run N Dunk
Another sleeper team with names that are virtually unknown. The roster boasts a lot of size and length.
Having played a majority of their tournaments in the U. S throughout the spring and summer, they’re flying under the radar. We’ve done our research and heard positive feedback.
My notepad will be open on a fresh page for this one as I take in their first game against the Mississauga Monarchs on Friday in an early morning contest at 8:30.
The Program Elite
A scrappy team that I’m going to label as the sleeper in the age group. They don’t give up on plays, they don’t give up on each other and will defend hard all game long.
Ryan Brooks is a load down low that will man the paint, collect boards and finish around the basket.
Jahwaun Smith is a relentless competitor whom we’ve seen at CNIT before. He has the power to get the crowd into it and really get under the skin of opponents.
After UPlay, it’s really a toss up in this age group as to who goes how far.
We’re not familiar with the Red Rush program at this level, but we know they go some real dogs who are going to be competitive.
Peoples Basketball is another one of those scrappy teams who could take down the big names or stay in really close with them all game.
There’s much to learn about some of the other squads during this evaluation period. Every summer there’s someone new that has a breakout tournament. Cameras will be rolling and the world will be waiting for the next wave of Canadians from the 16U CNIT Tournament.
Brookwood Elite are the returning champs looking to defend their CNIT title.
This group is super strong in terms of roster and depth. Starting at the top literally and figuratively with Georges Lefbvre. Lefbvre’s length, skill and ability to produce on both ends of the floor makes him a very special talent.
His high academic standing will have IVY League teams in attendance taking close notes on the 2020/2021 prospect.
In addition, the man child known as Emmanuel Bonsu will reap havoc as he locks up defensively and attacks the rim with force. His size, frame and athleticism may be intimidating to some opponents.
Trenton Dias-Maxwell adds and makes it a trio of threats for Brookwood. On top of having these three guys there are highly serviceable complimentary pieces that will affect the game.