TORONTO,ON – In a day and age of teenager basketball players bouncing around from one prep school to another, the story of Jasonn Hannibal is inspiring. The 6’10” native of Mississauga, Ont. spent his high school career at Port Credit Secondary where he towered over much of his competition. But unlike many players who are focused solely on their on-court performance, from a young age Jasonn has been committed to finding time for another kind of performance.
When not dominating the low post and cleaning the boards, you can find Hannibal practicing the double bass. For those not familiar, the double bass in not a guitar, but rather closer to a cello, and it is the largest instrument in the modern symphony orchestra. Fitting for a man of his size. Playing the double bass and learning music has never been taken lightly by Jasonn, as he was insistent on it being a part of his education.
On the court, Jasonn excelled at a time that there were relatively few Canadians playing Division 1 basketball. Unlike today when Canucks are making waves south of the border and seemingly taking over the game, Jasonn had to rely on an impressive performance on the summer AAU circuit as well as a strong showing at the All-Canada Classic to get himself a chance to play D1 ball.
A man by the name of Jim Thomas used to be a prominent scout in the Canadian basketball game, and he was influential in providing Hannibal with exposure in the states.
“He put the word out on me, and the University of Portland took notice and came to watch me play a few times,” said Hannibal.
While there was interest from other institutions, coach Eric Raveno of the U of Portland Pilots made the trip to Toronto to watch Jasonn play. At the time, the All-Canada Classic was still being played at Centennial College, and Raveno showed up to watch him play.
So after discussing his options with his family and club coach Fred Granuum, Jasonn made the commitment to the Pilots. But it was clear from the start that he was going to be a student-athlete, with an emphasis on the former.
“Jasonn wanted to play ball, but he also wanted to study music,” said Granuum. “His parents were also very focused on the schooling aspect.”
So once he graduated high school, Jasonn made the trek to the Pacific Northwest and settled in at the University of Portland. However, making the transition to life in a smaller community was not seamless.
“Living there was a bit different,” said Hannibal. “It was not as diverse and cultured.”
The level of play also took some getting used to.
“It was much more intense. Everything about the experience was kind of hard initially.”
After settling in and realizing his role for the Pilots, he became more comfortable with the entire process and began to find success on the court as well as in the classroom.
While many student-athletes enrol in courses that demand minimal attention, Jasonn majored in music and was forced to be a diligent student in order to graduate.
“I studied theory, history, performance, conducting and composing,” he said. “It was really hard.”
Yet. Hannibal overcame all of his obstacles and found an excellent opportunity to continue playing ball after he was done school. Thanks to a well connected agent, Jasonn landed himself a two-year contract to play professionally in Slovenia. He will be suiting up for Hopsi Polzela, a club based in Polzela, Slovenia.
It will surely be another interesting cultural experience for Jasonn, but he is ready for every challenge that presents itself.
“He has a good head on his shoulders,” said Fred Granuum, his former AAU coach with the Mississauga Ballers.
Where ever life will take him, Jasonn Hannibal will likely be playing music and basketball. Not one or the other.
PHOTO COURTESY: CRAIG CLARK, SPORTSPAGEMAGAZINE