This past week, St. Francis Xavier Secondary School in Mississauga hosted its annual Rimrocker high school boys’ basketball tournament. Since 2004, the tournament has been a chance for some of the best high school teams in the region of Peel and beyond, to go against one another just before the mid-winter break.
As the level of talent over this past decade began to rise here on the west side of Toronto, the teams began coming in from greater distances to see it for themselves. With them, have come college scouts and coaches from all over North America to get a first-hand look at the level of talent that is on display.
Now, in the tournaments 11th year, the games have never been more intense, and the tone has never been more serious, with four of the top 25 high schools in Canada making their way to Mississauga this past week.
So many teams have applied to enter, that the tournament now requires a second sight in another Mississauga high school, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, to get through the group stages.
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What’s at stake?
As you enter the crowded gym, take a look to your left and right, and in between the swaths of the student body in the stands during class hours, you see a few older looking men with university sweaters and jackets proudly claiming their allegiance. They bring their camcorders, their notebooks, and meticulously jot down names, numbers, shots taken, rebounds, strengths, weaknesses, anything that they might need to bring back to their superiors on campus. They hide in plain sight, looking for the things that might make or break these young men’s chances at going to the next level.
This isn’t uncommon in many high school basketball tournaments throughout the city nowadays, but the Rimrocker is one of the best in depth. Some of the kids you see on the court may very well touch an NBA floor, like Father Goetz alumni and current Orlando Magic forward Andrew Nicholson, who played in the tournament back in 2007. A few others will not even see their eleventh grade here in Canada, as they will be recruited down south to the states to a prep school that, to put it bluntly, will give them a better chance at achieving their dream than they will ever get here, for now at least.
The tournament’s final, featured two of the top five high schools in Canada, Brampton’s no. 4 St. Edmund Campion and Waterloo’s no. 2 St. John’s-Kilmarnock, in an overtime thriller that saw the title go to Brampton’s Campion – the second year in a row that a school from that city has won the title after a decade of dominance from Toronto.
Brampton’s St. Edmund Campion Bears walked away as the 2014 Rimrocker champions. (Photo Credit: Elias Sbiet/Northpolehoops)
From my time I spent watching this tournament unfold this past week, I have compiled, in no particular order, ten of the top players at this years’ Rimrocker. The list you see in front of you very well might be the future of Canadian basketball, enjoy!
Abu Kigab (Grade 11 – St. Francis Phoenix)
A sixteen year-old 6’6” forward from St. Catherines, Abu Kigab has long already been on the radar of a number of NCAA scouts. North Pole hoops has him ranked in the top five of the 2017 class. He continued to show some impressive skills during this tournament and led the St. Francis Phoenix to a semi-final appearance before falling to Brampton’s St. Edmund Campion. Kigab showed flashes of an outside shot, but his incredibly athletic frame was best displayed when he was attacking the basket and running down fast breaks for some impressive blocks. Expect this 16 year-old somewhere down south in the next two years.
Frank Agyemang (Notre Dame Knights)
The 6’7” forward is the true heart and soul of his Brampton school. He was mostly an above average standout for most of the tournament, but it was his performance against #2 nationally ranked St. John’s-Kilmarnock in the semi-final, that earned him a spot on this list. Agyemang was a beast in the post almost scoring at will, rarely taking bad shots against two of the best post players currently in Canada. His extra effort energy, constant chatter on the floor, and positive reinforcement to his teammates were the real standouts of his game. His dribbling ability to breakdown defenders and a decent mid-range jump shot will also prove very useful no matter where he ends up at the next level. Regardless, if no one was talking about this young man before the Rimrocker, they will be now.
Lucas Oslthoorn (Grade 11 – St. Francis Phoenix)
Standing 6’9” and weighing 250 pounds, this St. Catherine’s product showed a polished post game rarely seen at the high school level for a guy his size. One of the few big men in the country that plays to his height, Oslthoorn has no problem mixing it up in the paint, consistently making backdoor cuts for easy layups and rarely bringing the ball below his waste off offensive rebounds for easy put backs. He displayed a very smooth release on his shot from fifteen feet just for good measure. Once he slims down a little and brings up his stamina for his senior year next season, expect this kid to be one of the top prospects coming out of Canada come 2017.
Joel Brown (Grade 9 – St. Edmund Campion Bears)
It is not easy to lead one of the top ranked high schools in the country as a point guard for any player, but to do it while you’re still in grade nine is almost unheard of. Despite his young age, that is exactly what Joel Brown is doing.
Throughout the entire tournament, Brown was the floor general for the Bears for nearly every minute of every game, and showed just how good he might become. Standing 6’1” at the moment, that will be sure to change in a couple years once his body catches up to his ridiculously long arms. Offensively, he showed flashes of brilliance and a quick first step to evade double teams and high pressure defenders, but preferred to pass and run the offence rather than take 20 plus shots per game.
He showed patience waiting for plays to develop and his only real weakness at the moment is that he may be too unselfish, which is never a bad problem to have for your point guard. Brown will almost certainly be on his way to an American prep school by his grade 11 year, and don’t be shocked if you see this kid in march madness five years down the road, he’s that good.
Jaelin Llewllyn (Grade 10 – Father Michael Goetz Gators)
Another junior age player playing at the senior level, Llewllyn just might have the most potential out of every player on this list. A 6’2” combo guard, he can play three different positions on the floor and has just a little bit of everything in his game. He can shoot the three, he can break down a defender, he is a respectable defender, and he has a nasty spin move to elude bigger players in the paint. He rarely takes a bad shot and has a high basketball IQ beyond his years, best displayed by his impressive body control in mid-air under the rim. Once again he’s only in grade ten, but this very well may be the last time we see Llewllyn at the Rimrocker, as American prep schools are bound to come calling when the AU season begins in March.
Freddy Ibrahim (Grade 12 – Father Michael Goetz Gators)
The second Mississauga player on this list, Ibrahim has turned himself into a top-level CIS prospect over his four-year high school career playing for the Gators. The 6’3” guard/forward combo worked hard in the off-season to gain some weight and worked on his finishing in the paint, and so far that work has paid off. He has incredible leaping ability that seems very unsuspecting when you first look at him. But his athleticism doesn’t stop at jumping; he can routinely make tough contested shots over defenders almost anywhere in front of or behind the arc.
Defensively, Ibrahim is a hyper aggressive player that communicates well on the floor with his teammates in trap situations and double teams. He is the quintessential senior player; he leads by example, is well spoken, can play above the rim, shoot the three, and rarely shows frustration. Ibrahim is already being pursued by a number of CIS and NCAA schools but no matter where he ends up, he will be a welcome addition to any team at the next level.
Zephani Scott (Grade 11 – Ascension Eagles)
The most athletic player at the Rimrocker this week, Zephani Scott is a top-level athlete plain and simple. He turned a few heads during his warm-ups at Mount Carmel with a two-handed windmill slam, and went on to be the top scorer for Ascension in every game they played in the tournament. He still has some mental growing to do before his senior year, but he has the physical tools to be just as good as anyone else in the country.
Saajan Arora (Grade 13 – St. John’s-Kilmarnock Eagles)
There were a lot of great shooters at the Rimrocker this week, but few were as consistent for every game as 5’11” Saajan Arora. It’s tough to stand out as a three-point shooter on a team where eight of the nine players on your roster can hit from beyond the arc, but one particular performance put Arora on this list.
With SJK down 14-6 going into the second quarter of the finals against St. Edmund Campion, Arora hit three consecutive three’s to spark a 19-7 run for the Eagles. They would go on to lose the finals to Campion, and Arora would go 4-of-6 on the entire game, but that was his worst shooting performance of the tournament.
The great thing about watching him play is that he knows exactly what he is. He runs the floor looking for spacing, when he catches the ball he sets his feet and his first reaction is to take the shot. If he doesn’t see it, he passes it off. If he must, Arora has just enough ball-handling ability to get himself out of traps in the corners. All in all, Arora looks ready for the next level and it will be a pleasure to see what he does there.
Mike Blumel (Grade 13 – St. John’s-Kilmarnock Eagles)
Standing at 6’4″, Mike Blumel was the most polished post player in the entire Rimrocker tournament hands down. Despite being listed as a small forward, he was forced to play the four and five-spot on the floor due to a shortage on the bench for this tournament (SJK only brought nine players to the tournament).
What I saw was a very versatile and experienced player that found ways to score in the paint with an array of post moves. Naturally, he had a little more difficulty scoring against bigger opponents down low, but would stretch the floor to show off some range behind the arc. Expect Blumel to play a more mid-range game for the rest of the season, but during the Rimrocker, he showed he can do almost anything on the frontcourt.
Tyler Winchester (Grade 11-St. Martin Mustangs)
In a tournament with so many names already well-known among college scouts on both sides of the border, Winchester just might be the dark horse to come from the Rimrocker. At 6’1”, he’s an ideal shooting guard with exceptional dribbling ability and a quick release jump shot that was money anywhere within the three-point line. Being a part of an undersized team, he was forced to play a little out of position for most of the tournament, but still managed to put up some respectable numbers in points, assists, and rebounds. Ultimately, he will likely be a CIS or OCAA recruit, but he still has one more year left to play, and a lot can change in a year or two if he continues to push himself during the spring and summer.