EDMONTON, AB–Some of the top young players from across Alberta congregated at Concordia High School in Edmonton for a National ID Camp, hosted by Basketball Alberta. Canadian Jr. Men’s National Team Head Coach Greg Francis led the players through a series of skill building drills, and ended the day with an intense scrimmage. It was a day for players in both the Jr. National (’92 or later) and Cadet (’95 or later) to get some exposure in front of national level coaches.
Coach Francis, who was also joined by former national team member Peter Guarasci, led the prospects through a litany of drills focusing mainly on developing their fundamental skills. For many of these players, it was one of the first times that they have received focused attention on their skill development, and it took some players a bit of getting used to.
However, after a few hours that focused on skill building drills, the players were able to show off their full repertoire, with Francis interjecting whenever he noticed a missed assignment or lackadaisical effort. The Alberta youth basketball scene as a whole received relatively little exposure, as they are dwarfed by the sheer numbers that Quebec and Ontario produce in terms of high level talent. But this is exactly the reason that camps such as this exist, in order to give players who might otherwise go unseen a chance to be noticed on the provincial and national scale.
Coach Francis mentioned that other countries, including Lithuania, Argentina and the United States, work on their decision making on the court year round, and in order for Canada to keep pace, more camps like these are needed. The level of skill and effort is comparable to other countries around the world, but it is a matter of building opportunities for these players to come together on a more consistent basis and become familiar with one another.
After the Jr. National and Cadets left the floor, there was a scheduled ID camp for the Senior mens national team, however only six players showed up to take part. The issue with players vying for the Senior Team is that they have all played college and/or pro for years, so there is little need to identify new talent in the same way as it is needed with youth players. As a result, only a handful of players, including Steve and Ethan Sir, the sons of Basketball Alberta Executive Director Paul Sir, showed up to play. Morgan Duce, formerly of the Lethbridge College Kodiaks, Jordan Baker from the University of Alberta Golden Bears, Gavin Reese and Rod Iyekekpolor from the NAIT Ooks showed up, but they only scrimmaged for a few games before the day was called off.
Adonis Monfort-Palomino looks on as coach Greg Francis organizes a drill