Orangeville, ON – The NPH Ontario Showcase pushed highschool basketball players in the province to new individual heights while giving them a chance to evaluate their place amongst their peers.
From Friday’s rigorous training sessions with Chris Ward and Jessie Tipping, to Saturday’s marathon of back-to-back games, to Sunday’s all-star events, more than fifty of the top prospects in Ontario got a chance to prove themselves in front of agents, coaches, and scouts.
The NPH showcase was hard work for the players, but gave them valuable exposure and a chance to prove that they belong at the next level, whether that be CIS, CCAA, or NCAA.
“The exposure was definitely important, just getting my name out there was big,” said Garrison Thomas, a 6’2″ guard from Burlington. “Going against the competition I got to compare myself to other players at the camp and see what level I was on. It was a great experience.”
Although Garrison competed in both the three-point competition and the slam dunk contest (the only player selected to compete in both events), his focus echoes the consensus of the players; they came to play.
Gavin Pearce, a 6’4″ wing player in the class of 2014 said “working hard, having heart, feeding my teammates and getting everyone the ball” helped him take home the junior division’s all-star game MVP.
Pearce appreciates Friday’s training sessions saying, “the workout with Chris Ward really showed us what moves to do in different situations and how to react to different defenders. That was really good, and I can take that home with me. It was hard work but I pushed through.”
Trevon McNeil, a 6’0″ point guard from Oakville captured the senior division all-star MVP with a deft shooting touch and the ability to control the dribble. He said “the training was important because without it you can’t compete in the game. If you have skill but no training you get tired in the first five minutes of the game, it’s a waste.”
“Playing with all these guys was the best part of the weekend,” McNeil explained. “Half of these guys I’ve never seen and they’re such great players. North Pole Hoops did this to give us exposure, moreover it was really good because I’ve met old friends and made new friends.”
Through all the hard work the players still got to have a good time showcasing their skills in the three-point shootout and slam dunk competition.
Nemanja Ilic, a 6’0″ point guard in the class of 2014, was the player to beat after draining 14 three-pointers in a single game on Saturday. He lived up to his reputation, but it wasn’t easy. “Once I started feeling a couple shots I felt better and they were dropping so it felt good.”
Tomislav Skoko, a 6’1″ shooting guard from Oakville almost topped Ilic but came just one shot shy of taking the three-point crown. Ilic remembers, “I was counting every shot he missed and thinking what his score could be. Headed into the last rack I knew he could potantially get 19, it was scary but I’m glad he missed it.”
The slam dunk competition was one for the ages, and a remarkable display of athleticism on any level rivalling even the NBA’s dunk contest. There was reverse windmills, eastbays, elbows in the rim, catches off the side of the backboard, stickers put on the glass, North Pole Hoops staff jumped over and the tallest player in the camp hurdled.
Mychal Mulder, a 6’5″ shooting guard from Windsor, and Jalen Griffiths, a 6’5″ small forward from Pickering both deserved the title of dunk contest champ and were both so impressive that extra rounds were added to the contest.
Jalen Griffiths came out on top after hurdling 6’8″ Dillon Dubois in what he says was “my first time in a dunk contest. I had a couple dunks I had practiced before but after the first couple of rounds I had to take suggestions.”
This weekend is one that the players involved will remember for their entire careers. They gained experience and exposure that wasn’t available to them without the North Pole Hoops showcase. Regardless whether they continue to the next level of basketball, the discipline, team mentality and hard work that they learned will be invaluable to the rest of their lives.
NPH 1st Team Senior Stars: Mychal Mulder, Myles Charvis, Dele Ogundukan, Trevon McNeil (MVP), Nolan Mackenzie, Jalen Griffiths
Senior MVP: Trevon McNeil
NPH 1st Team Junior Stars: Davon MacBeth, Damiann Prehay, Jamaal Potopsingh, Nemanja Ilic, Nikyle Williams-McIntosh
Junior MVP: Gavin Pearce
Three-point contest winner: Nemanja Ilic
Dunk contest winner: Jalen Griffiths