Ahmed Ali and Reece Brooks are very recognizable names in any GTA gym they step foot in. In the past year or so, the two have been out of the spotlight. There isn’t much publicity on the JUCO scene as there is at the NCAA Division I level and that’s why you may not be hearing too much about them.
For anyone that follows JUCO basketball, they know, Ali and Brooks are making their presence felt as freshmen at Clarendon and Eastern Florida State respectively.
National recognition from Division I programs is rolling in for the two Canadian point guards who are being recruited at the mid-major level.
Interest is turning into offers as a result of production. Moreover, with some of America’s most prestigious Top 100 JUCO camps approaching, there is a strong chance that both Brooks and Ali get selected to attend and compete in front of hundreds of NCAA DI coaches.
As you can see above, the numbers speak, game speaks, on behalf of the Canadian PGs.
Every year there are over 50 Canadian prospects that turn down playing CCAA basketball in Canada to continue chasing an NCAA DI scholarship.
Every year there is a boomerang affect of talent that can’t handle the grind, the “dog fight” if you will, of the JUCO level and how tough one needs to be to survive and thrive. Most end up transferring back to Canada. This is not one of those cases…
“Day in, day out. It’s a real grind. You got to be able to make quick adjustments, you got to put your time in the weight room, you have to scout, listen and take in a lot of info. I’m going up against super athletic and physically strong guys everyday in practice and games, everyday is a challenge.”
Ali continued, “most of the guys at the JUCO level should have and could have been DI except they didn’t have the grades to go right away. The physicality at this level is out of this world.”
Ali was recently name a First Team All-Star of the Southern Conference while on pursuit of a deep playoff run.
The mental fortitude of Ali has kept him pushing through all the way to the state championship in Florida. On March 9 the number 11 Nationally ranked Eastern Florida State takes on Central Florida. A win in that game will likely put them up against Northwest Florida who is number 3 in the National JUCO rankings.
Five time Coach of the Year in the SoCon, Jeremy Shulman of Eastern Florida State had this to say about Ali.
“Ahmed has been nothing short of spectacular this year. He is a fantastic kid and a joy to coach. I knew from the moment we got him on his visit to Eastern Florida, that he belonged in the family. He is a special player and just keeps getting better.”
Brooks’ Clarendon squad is not in contention and finished with games for this season but the wave of interest for the 5’9 Canadian PG is growing.
New Mexico St., Cal State Bakersfield and Iona have been showing the most interest and are not shying away or deterred by the size of Brooks.
Brooks has been invited to Mullen Top 100 camp which is a prestigious camp for JUCO prospects with a major opportunity to boost recruitment and create options.
Some coaches worry about recruiting smaller guards like Reece, yet he has been highly effective and it shows in the above statistics.
His head coach at Clarendon, Isaac Amedee has excessive experience at the junior college level and feels that at the DI level, Brooks can be the type of player that helps make an NCAA run.
“Because he can defend both quicker and bigger guards. He shoots 90% from the free throw line and over 40% from three. Reece is a guy that can run a team, facilitate and flat out score the ball. To top it, he’s intelligent, has a high character and is a great student. Guys with this type of package make deep runs.”
As someone who’s been following Reece’s career for over five years, since his days at Brampton Centennial as a ninth grader, I can attest to Coach Amedee’s sentiments on the Canadian PG.
In some games, he would go up against seniors and really get under their skin; they were shocked and upset with themselves for allowing the young buck to have such an impact.
Today, he’s being challenged daily. In Texas is known to be one of the countries toughest regions for basketball and a big time producer of DI and NBA talent.
“Adapting to the environment. It’s gritty and you got to work harder for a lot of things, they don’t come as easy as in high school. Playing in Texas has been a challenge. Everyday you’re facing a different type of opponent.”
“Some days, its a bulky, powerful type whereas other nights its a really quick, lean an’d athletic guard. But hey, that challenge everyday is worth it.”
With more thoroughbreds in his way, he’s learned to control his speed and change of direction a lot better. This has helped him on both ends of the floor. Proven to be a scorer, it’s actually the defensive end where he’s made improvement.
“I want to defend and push. I’m an uptempo type of player. I like a teams that really runs and want to get my guys the in transition, really get them involved in the break.”
There are over 50 JUCO Canadians this year, some which are freshmen and some that are sophomores. Some will survive, thrive and move onto the DI level and others will bounce back to the Canadian University level, which in some cases are beating D1 teams.
Ali and Brooks are freshmen, and after one more year of JUCO are expected to be pretty highly recruited. Keep a tab.