After just three years, the @NorthPoleHoops Platform is already becoming an event of traditions.
Featured again as the highlight of Boxing Day basketball, the 2013 #NPHPlatform honoured these traditions by naming the teams after 2012 MVPs. The Underclassmen teams were named after Platform alumni Chris Egi, recent Harvard commit, and Duane Notice, currently a thriving freshman at South Carolina.
The new crop of players looking to build a name for themselves in the class of 2016 featured a number of notable names with talent across the board. Standing above the rest was 5-11 PG Jacques Lukusa from Ottawa who first encountered NPH at an event in Florida (two summers ago) and became nationally ranked shortly thereafter.
The ranking was a step in the right direction, but it was also issued as a challenge.
“I checked the NPH rankings and they ranked me low and it just helped me get in the gym and work because I didn’t want to be that low on the rankings I wanted to be top-10, top-5, so that helped me,” said Lukusa after his MVP-winning performance of 17 points, 9 assists, 6 steals, 3 rebounds–earning him the nickname Jacques-of-all-trades.
Simply put, Lukusa is a playmaker.
“I like to get guys involved first and then get mine, because I can get mine any time I feel like,” explained Lukusa.
It was a big game for Lukusa who seemed to excel in front of the scouts and post-secondary coaches in attendance and understood the importance of rising to the challenge. “Everybody’s watching down here – they’ve been posting on Twitter, Facebook, and everybody’s going to come out to see what you can do so you have to show up and show off if you want to be the greatest.”
One of Lukusa’s coaches on Team Egi was Kyle Julius who has seen his share of basketball talent as a player, coach and trainer in the Canadian hoops scene.
“Events like this are absolutely good for basketball in Canada and it only gets bigger and events like these can grow,” said Julius. “You’re giving kids an opportunity to show themselves that just wasn’t there, this game wasn’t here before North Pole Hoops and today a kid from Ottawa won MVP and it’s pretty special. Now he goes away with that on his resume, people will talk about that, coaches will take notice.”
At halftime, special guest George Papadakos spoke about the importance of respecting the game and the growth of basketball in Canada in the last 20 years. The seven-foot former Syracuse and Michigan State standout and professional basketball player believed the attitude towards basketball in Canada is changing and events like the #NPHPlatform are one way to bring together the community.
It’s a community that is expanding across the country that includes a depth of talent coast-to-coast. This year, Newfoundland was represented for the first time by Brett Warren, a point guard who led his province to a surprising finish at this summer’s Canada Games while breaking Kevin Pangos’ U17 assist record.
“This is the only All-Star event I’ve been involved in, there’s not much like this back in Newfoundland,” Warren explained. “This was fun and competitive. I’m a pass first point guard so I was just getting guys open shots and giving them lanes to drive. Teams are getting better across the country.”
Some of that competitive fire was inspired by players like Kitchener’s Nedim Hodzic who won the Platform Heart & Hustle award presented by Bio Steel, registering 8 points, 8 rebounds, 5 blocks.
“It’s the little things that win games and we won by 30 because we got steals, blocks, hustled, and rebounded. Those aren’t things that are normally recognized, it’s not easy doing those things and I was going against a guy that was 6-9 and I’m 6-4. Most all-star games are about points, dunks, flashy stuff but here I just wanted to rebound, hustle and blocks shots.”
Other highlights included the performances of some players NPH has had an eye on for a while and others who are really just starting to establish themselves in the class of 2016.
Daniel Cummings, a 6-5 SG from St. Andrew’s in Aurora and Christien Gould, a 6-2 guard from D’Youville in Brampton went blow for blow on opposite ends showing off their three-point range and exchanging a few words of challenge between shots. The individual match-up ended in a draw as Cummings finished with 18 points for Team Egi and Gould finished with a team-high 18 for Team Notice.
Gould’s backcourt mate Keshon Montague, a 6-0 guard also from D’Youville, contributed 14 points with three assists and wreaked havoc when played alongside the familiar shooter.
Pope John Paul II’s 6-3 guard Tyrell Gumbs-Frater backed up his reputation as a scorer finishing with 15 points on a variety of shots and also grabbed a team-high five rebounds.
Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, ON) started the game strong and finished a ridiculous powerful dunk in the first half that rattled the backboard and the camera man standing under it. The 6-9 forward from Mother Theresa finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks, both of which were sensational. One of those blocks came when he caught up from behind and swatted a dunk attempt off the backboard when it already looked more than halfway down.
A pair of players from J.C. Richardson, 6-1 guard Marcus Ottey and 6-5 wing Tyrell Leotaud, contributed across the board, finished in double-figure scoring, and made difficult shots when their team started to pull away in the fourth quarter, finishing in a 110-84 win for Team Egi.
Another Underclassmen game in the books. Thanks to all the players, coaches, sponsors, and volunteers who made this event successful yet again.
NPH Platform Statistics
- Jacques Lukusa – 17 points, 3 rebounds, 9 assists, 6 steals – MVP Presented by The Health Institute
- Eddie Ekiyor – 18 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks
- Daniel Cummings – 18 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal
- Nedim Hodzic – 8 points, 8 rebounds, 5 blocks – Heart & Hustle Award Presented by Bio Steel
- Marcus Ottey – 10 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
- Tyrell Leotaud – 10 points, 4 rebounds
- Koby McEwan- 9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks
- Isaiah Familia- 8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 assists
- Jaaden Lewis – 7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
- Brett Warren – 5 points, 2 assists, 2 steals
- Christien Gould – 18 points
- Tyrell Gumbs-Frater – 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals
- Keshon Montague – 14 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 2 steals
- Marcus Anderson – 9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
- Jackson Rowe – 9 points
- Malik Turenne – 7 points
- Sasha Simic – 5 points
- Jordan Holness – 4 points
- Quinton Gray – 3 points
- Kalif Young – 3 rebounds, 3 blocks