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.

U12

This division will be loaded with both names that are presently on the radar and also others that are trying to get there.

At first glance this will be the first time at the CNIT that we will see the #1 prospect in the 2023 class, Elijah Fisher, play at his age level with Grassroots.

Fisher has competed at the CNIT as both a grade 5 and 6, always playing one year up. This year he will not only be playing in this division, but also the U13, trying to become the youngest player to win championships in multiple age divisions.

The road will be a tough one as I expect UPlay’s Jashmar Olembe, the #2 ranked prospect in the class to come out and put on a performance. Hindered by a back injury during the conclusion of the NPH Junior Showcase, Olembe is a lethal scorer with a accurate jump shot at 6’2. NPH Junior Showcase top prospect Anthony Wrzeszcz, Junior NPH showcase Heart and Hustle MVP Vytas Nausedas, and sharpshooter Kailon Nicholls round out a very nice UPlay attack.

Canada Elite will also be in the hunt for the championship as the program makes their return to the CNIT. Coach Xavier McLaughlin and Ben Sanders will have both NPH Junior Showcase top prospect Deandre Ormsby and CYBL grade 6 MVP Preston Gayle carrying the load for their team but, as always with Canada Elite, they have a plethora of talent that can strike at any moment.

S.T.A.G Elite and coach Bradley Smalls enter the tournament on a very high note as this group is yet to lose on Canadian soil. Junior Canadian program standout Andrew Loyuk and Yassier Greeves-Sadaat will lead the attack for S.T.A.G. Watch for this group to be scrappy, unselfish, and a intense bunch.

Watch out for UPlay Halton to also surprise opponents as they did in the Signature league this past season. Lefty Quiton Martin will lead the offensive push for this Halton club as he will bring his penetration game, outside shooting, and overall floor leadership to the squad. NPH Junior Showcase top prospect Dolu Johnson is also another prospect that can fill up the stat sheet, and is a multiple effort guy.

U13

If any division is up for grabs at the CNIT this year, I think that the U13s are right at the top of the list.

To recap, Grassroots were finalist in the Signature league, won the CYBL championship, and then were finalists again at the Top Gun Tournament. This team is lead by NPH Junior Showcase top prospects Elijah Fisher, Jaden Langley-Thomas, and DJ Jackson.

Junior Showcase Game MVP Rory Stewart also holds down the center position for Grassroots.

Speed and length is this team’s calling card.

DC United is a strong contender as they arguably have the best guard tandem in the age division with Isaiah Adams and Jaden Clayton. Adams is a relentless athlete who uses his speed, strength, and hops to punish his opponents. Clayton, the 2016 Toronto Junior NPH Showcase MVP is the ultimate when it comes to controlling the pace, tempo, and momentum of the game.

UPlay look completely revamped from Signature League as they sport one of the most physical rosters in the age group. NPH Junior Showcase top prospect Caleb Atewe rings in at 6’6, Waterloo standout James Wanni is a mobile 6’4, Adam Barney 6’4, Ben Ezeague 6’3, NPH Junior Showcase Heart and Hustle winner Cameron Harris stands at 6’1. Also, NPH Junior Showcase MVP, and Signature League champion Noah Ngamba stands at 6’3.

Talk about length and size.

The Mississauga Monarchs have a very tight knit group of players led by Ethan Dela Cruz, Myles MacArthur and Manvir Virdi. Those three perimeter threats have been together now for over two years and are very well versed in both the half court offense, and defensive schemes.

This is a group that will need to rely on their continuity to lift them above their opponents.

And, as always, lets not forget that Brookwood Elite is also in the mix for a championship run here in the U13 division. Look out for Akijah Leith, Malik Francin Montero, Jefferson De La Cruz, and Keyshawn Belizaire. Two other teams will also be representing Quebec in the division as Red Rush, and Lr-Protégé make their way onto the national stage.

Halton has put together a solid fixture of players, as the region will bring in NPH Junior Showcase top prospects Nolan Crawford, Omar Malik, and Sam Lundy. Aside from those studs, Halton also has one of the best prospects in the grade 6 division in 2024 Keenan Emmanuel. Look for his pinpoint shooting and playmaking to really stand out.

U14

These high school freshmen are going to be looking anything but as this division looks to be a three headed monster with Northern Kings, Grassroots, and UPlay being the cream of the crop.

Northern Kings will be loaded with a lot of star power at the guard postion. One of their most formittable guards will be 2021 Marcus Moore. This BioSteele and NPH showcase Allstar has a pedigree of shooting the ball at a consistent level and also had great court vision. Other guards to look out for are Jaden Levene, Jayden Grange and Kymahni Bent.
Scoring machine Kevonne Marshall will lead the Grassroots attack for coach Dash. Here is a team that made it to the finals in last year’s CNIT, but just fell short of their ultimate goal. Look for this motivated bunch to bring a ferocity to the court.

In one of the most well rounded rosters, UPlay has many options at every position. At the guards, Darren Clarke and Jonathan Avqousti are both high percentage shooters and efficient overall players. Luke De Gannes and Samuel Adeosun bring toughness and grit to the perimeter. Lastly U16 National team player Charles Bediako and U15 Ontario team player Kordell Charles bring length, size and athletisim to the center and forward position.

A couple sleepers in this division will be Mississauga Monarchs, S.T.A.G Elite and Red Rush. These teams are geared up and ready to compete with some of the best at the Canadian National Invitational Tournament.

Nik Zefi

Written by Nik Zefi

Nik Zefi is a @NorthPoleHoops correspondent providing Canadian basketball coverage on the high school, CIS & NCAA levels.

Website: http://www.NorthPoleHoops.com

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