Alan Spoonhunter has a chance to be one of the top Aboriginal basketball players to ever come out of Canada. The Class of 2020 Shooting Guard currently plays for EDGE School, and has solidified himself in the NPA as one of the top long distance shooters in the country.
Alan’s story has a lot of similarities to that of many basketball prospects growing up in Canada. Alan’s first love was hockey, and by age 5, he could recite all of the major players in the league, along with every team. His Grandfather was a major influence in those years he spent living in Lethbridge, Alberta, where hockey was king and there wasn’t much room for anything else.
However, stability would not be a thing Alan and his two other brothers would get to enjoy in their early years. After the death of his grandfather, his mother Heidi struggled to cope with the loss of her father, while also going through a difficult divorce. By age 10, Alan decided he would move with his father to multiple reserves both in his father’s native Montana (his father, Alan Spoonhunter Sr., is half Blackfeet & half Northern Arapaho) and also in Idaho.
Hockey was still a passion for Alan, but the lack of competition began to wane his interest from the sport. “He would be scoring 10 to 15 goals a game in these leagues,” his mother, Heidi recalls. “Even after moving him up a few age groups, he would still dominate.”
“I quit hockey when I moved to Idaho because we only played on an outdoor rink when it was frozen,” recalled Alan.
There was one other sport Alan also played, that began to take a hold of the young athletes attention under the tutelage of his father at this time, that of course was basketball. “Both of my parents had played basketball, and tough love was their way to show me how to be the best.”
Alan’s father was a former basketball prospect himself, playing JUCO back in the early 2000’s. With his father’s guidance, Alan began to excel at the sport both of his parents originally excelled at.
By the time Alan returned to the Canadian Prairies at age 12, he was playing, and competing, with players as much as five years older than himself. It’s a difference Alan can now point out a little bit more clearly with age.
“I think the main difference is the age gap of when it’s ‘competitive’. At young ages in the states we learn to win at all costs and show no mercy, but in Canada it’s kind of soft with it not being about winning as much,” says Alan.
It was at this point he was in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where he built up a reputation on the playground courts as a big, physical Aboriginal kid who can play with anyone.
During these years Alan wasn’t alone though, he had some guidance and coaching in the form of current Saskatoon Basketball Academy Head Coach Sean Tyson.
“Alan’s father and I used to play against each other way back in the day,” reminisced Coach Tyson, “So when his mother Heidi asked me to look out for him when they moved back to Saskatchewan, I didn’t hesitate.”
Watching out for Alan has always been his mother’s top priority, as the director of the White Buffalo Youth Lodge in Saskatoon, she has seen first-hand what can happen to aboriginal youth when they are not given direction.
But Alan’s obsession has remained basketball through and through. After a number of years tearing up the local leagues, high schools, and playing on the Saskatchewan provincial team, Alan realized he needed more.
“I’m super competitive and have a scary side that comes out when I play. A lot of people could say I’m a jerk but it’s only because I’ll do anything to win.”
It would be an old friend in the form of Adefolarin “Fofo” Adetogun, one of the top guards in the country right now, that would help convince Alan that change would once again prove to be a strength, not a distraction.
With that said, Alan packed his bags one more time for the city of Calgary to join Edge School, one of the top academic-athletics schools in the country. In his first season with Edge, Alan has managed to become one of the top shooters in the NPA, while also gaining the adoration of his new coaching staff and teammates.
“Alan’s commitment to getting better, has been infectious to this group,” Explains Edge Head Coach Adam Huffman, who had known Alan for some time leading up to his commitment to Edge. “He has been one of our most consistent players on and off of the floor, a true leader, and just seeing the joy he takes to playing the game, it makes us all want to get better.”
Alan has always maintained that he wants to prove to himself more than anyone, about being the best at what he does. But as he enters his senior and post grad years, he can now look back at the path he’s carved for Aboriginal youth with a little more self reflection and pride in what he has been able to show others who look like him, and come from the same places he’s come from and travelled to throughout his childhood.
“I feel at this point that I have younger kids looking up to me as a native athlete, and I need to show there is more than being a hometown hero. That the goals should be bigger than just the best player on the Rez.”
Along with one of the best teams in Western Canada behind him, it seems as though Alan Spoonhunter, of Ktunaxa, Blackfeet, & Northern Arapaho decent, will be able to do just that.