Growth of Canadian East Coast Basketball Dependent on Mentality Switch

The High School Hoops season got started this past weekend in Eastern Canada and as always the impending season will provide a roller coaster of entertainment. However we will get to breaking down that ride at a later date.

I have been involved in high school basketball in Nova Scotia for 27 years, from playing to coaching to analyzing and have learned a great deal over this time.

North Pole Hoops East Coast Analyst Deon Wilson

The biggest thing I have learned is that we have no shortage of talent. From Ted Upshaw to Wade Smith to Will Njoku, to Fred Perry to Alex English to Cory Hallett to Elliot Thompson to Tyler Scott to the future stars. currently making their names.

As I received scores from games and watched games at Horton High this past weekend, the problem with East Coast Basketball was validated. Our top programs and our top talent are just not being challenged competitively on a regular basis.

This past summer I coached the Nova Scotia U17 team that won a Bronze Medal at Nationals. Early on, our biggest issue was that players worked to the level of East coast talent instead of working to the level of North American talent.

Changing this mentality was a major component in our success.  Changing this component in East Coast Hoops will be a major part in getting players the opportunities their talent deserves.

So the challenge to coaches is to push these athletes to a mental commitment that enhances work effort on a daily basis.

Our top level programs must break the geographical barrier and go into Central Canada to push their programs to a higher level.

In future years, programs like Auburn, Horton, Citadel, Kennebecasis, Fredericton and Charlottetown Rural must get games against Ontario and Quebec’s High School Elite, on a regular basis.

The goal at this point is then to bring that information back and challenge the next tier of programs to step up their game.


In addition to this, schools and the NSSAF, NBIAA, PEI SAA and NLHSAF must catch up to the sport system of 2014.

These organizations govern all sport in a manner that limits athlete opportunity. As an example I had the Western Region NSSAF Rep tell me “High School Sport was not there to get kids to University sport”.

I completely understand the role of participation and that is what the governing bodies are about, well so they would have you believe.

Except for this season the Halifax area junior highs are permitted to only put one team on the court, no B teams for development, no grade seven teams for development therefore decreasing participation within schools.

Teaching young people to strive for scholarships and post secondary opportunity is not a bad process. Yes, it is less than 5% of athletes that get this opportunity but it is not about the results, it is about the journey.

The highly employable skills of commitment, loyalty, teamwork, leadership and time management to name a few will be invaluable throughout all ventures in an athlete’s future.

So as we progress through the 2014-15 high school basketball season I challenge all players, coaches and parents to evaluate how these athletes’ exceptional talents are being nurtured, developed and enhanced for greater opportunity in life.

Are these athletes getting the physical, mental, tactical and administrative support they need to maximize their talents? How many games will the power programs mentioned above actually have that are five points or fewer which make them compete intelligently.

How many practices are they getting? Are they getting information on weight programs? Are they getting information on nutritional supplementation? Are they getting information on Ideal Performance State? Are they getting athletic/academic guidance based on their goals?

We all need to push the “gate keeper to talent” our high school governing bodies to catch up and allow athletes to excel at home instead of having to leave for prep schools.

Just so people understand, I am not bagging on the system and all the hard work that volunteers and staffers are putting in.

We do have a good system, but it can be so much better.

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