BioSteel Skills Competition Brings Out The Best In Canada

Jaelin Llewellyn came home with the 2016 BioSteel Slam Dunk Title. (photo: Ryan Greco/
Jaelin Llewellyn came home with the 2016 BioSteel Slam Dunk Title. (photo: Ryan Greco/ /

With loud crowds, top level talent and national media coverage, the BioSteel All Canadian High School Skills Competition was anything but low key.

A winter storm was pounding Orangeville on Sunday night, but you couldn’t tell by the heat that was in the gym.

I mean literal heat, from the capacity crowd that jammed into the 750 or so seats of the Athlete Institute gym, to see the best talent in high school basketball that this country currently has to offer.

By the time the regional futures game was in the second half, it was standing room only, and the crowd stayed attentive and passionate from then until the very end.

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No, this was certainly not the “basketball social gathering” of last year’s event, which in turn had it’s own charm, but the building of a brand new grandstand on the west side of the floor, which doubled the capacity for seating in the gym, certainly left its impression.

More fans and members of the basketball community had the opportunity to experience this, and after last night, it may not be long before this event will be sharing the same size venue as the game that always follows it a day later.

Then there were the faces you might recognize, and there were oh so many.

You look to your left and you see Tim Micalif of Sportsnet’s Tim and Sid taking in the future’s game with his kid, while probable 2016 lottery draft pick, Jamal Murray, is courtside with his father studying the action, posing for pictures with eager fans both young and old during timeouts.

A couple steps toward the north end of the gym and you will find Canada Basketball Vice President Rowan Barrett casually leaning against the wall, in conversation with one of the staff working the event.

While just a stone’s throw away from that to the left is 7’1” Thon Maker, surrounded by his BioSteel and A.I. Prep teammates, perched up on the benches of the original eastern wall stands.

I could literally make an article just about the people in the stands, but like all great events, they were a side note to the action on the floor.

Futures Game, Team White – 101 Team Black – 83

The Future’s game was one of the more impressive games I’ve seen live, period.

Emmanuel Miller, a 6’6” guard from Bill Crothers in Markham, walked off with the MVP honours after scoring 18 points and leading team white to a convincing 101-83 win over team black.

Some of the shots, decision making, athleticism, and sheer size of the players on the floor made it almost unrealistic to believe they were all 14 and 15 years old.

The fact they were all of that and Canadian creates a scary and beautiful picture for this event in the coming years.

The young guys didn’t stop impressing after that, as a number of them competed in the 3 point shootout and slam dunk contest, where none of them looked out of place going up against the main rosters for Monday’s game.

3-point Shootout, Nate Darling wins one for the Maritimes

In the game of basketball in Canada, it is usually dominated by three regions – Southern Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. Very rarely do you get an elite high school player from outside of these areas.

Nate Darling took the BioSteel 3 Point Shooting contest. (photo: Ryan Greco/
Nate Darling took the BioSteel 3 Point Shooting contest. (photo: Ryan Greco/ /

Meet one of the exceptions, Nate Darling, a shooting guard from DeMatha Catholic High School in Maryland who traces his origins to the town of Bedford Nova Scotia.

“You hear Nate Darling’s name, and that’s a name that we’ve heard across Canada, he can shoot the ball,” said Mark Poyser, current assistant coach at Father Henry Carr.

Darling was able to come into a competition that was almost exclusively Ontarians, and walked out with the crown, displaying one of smoothest strokes in the country,and one that will look to be on full display come tonight.

But then again, is it really that surprising when this is how he spends his weekend nights?

Slam Dunk Contest – Jaelin Llewellyn introduces himself to Canada

If you have been on this site and been keeping an eye on the local section, then you’ll have an idea of who Jaelen Llewellyn is.

If not, here’s the quick rundown – Llewellyn is a Mississauga native who played his first two years of high school for Father Michael Goetz, before transferring to Orangeville prep this past fall for his final two years of high school.

Upon arriving, he managed to win the starting point guard spot, and competed against Oak Hill Academy at the Jordan Brand Classic this past February during the All-Star weekend.

Throw in a stint with the U-16 national team last summer, and you’re pretty much up to speed on this explosive 6’1” guard.

His hangtime seems effortless in games, his arms are abnormally long and best yet, he is by far the quietest guy on both rosters.

But being quiet and seemingly serious has its advantages, like when before his second dunk happened, Llewellyn pointed to the top of the backboard, claiming there was a crack in it.

It took a couple of minutes before the crowd began to realize that it was all a ruse, just meant to keep everyone distracted while the ball was placed at the top of the square on the backboard.

Then, after a few brief moments of nervous cheering, this happened:

“I didn’t think I could do it at first, but it was coach Tony (McIntyre) who suggested I try it,”said Llewellyn after winning, “I kept practicing it, but I couldn’t even reach the ball, I was hoping the crowd could give me that little extra boost of energy.”

They certainly did.

The Llewellyn show wasn’t over just yet though, after an impressive display from Isaiah Mike jumping over three teammates, Llewellyn decided to take the contest to another level:

Most guys try something like that as a last ditch effort with usually disappointing results, but according to Llewellyn, that one was actually his ace in the hole.

“I’ve actually had that dunk perfected for a while, it’s even on my Instagram. But really just being here and seeing the crowd’s energy, being able to follow through on what I set out to do tonight, it is definitely going to take a lot of the nerves out of me heading into tomorrow’s game.”

Next: TOT-Cast: Looking Into the BioSteel All-Canadian Game

If that was Llewellyn when he was nervous, then it’s going to be interesting to see how he handles tomorrow now that the country will know his name.