Jonathan Frasco, Sports Reporter
Basketball scouts and coaches across North America eagerly sought front-row seats last weekend when Humber College hosted the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association pre-season showcase.
The OSBA has helped develop NBA players such as Jamal Murray and Thon Maker, both taken in the top 10 of the 2016 draft, and scouts hope there is more talent in the Canadian pool.
Wes Brown, an NBA scout from The Monday Morning Scouting Report, has been surveying young prospects in Canada for the past couple years and is impressed with what he sees.
“I think there’s going to be a consistent upturn in talent, and it will just continue to grow,” Brown said.
He said the skill level of young players is extraordinary and the quality of players that coaches are bringing in from around the world is the highest it’s ever been.
Tarry Upshaw, head coach of Ridley College in St. Catharines, said local basketball once was limited to a few stars.
Now, the general standard of play is much higher and “there might be an overall talent increase across the spectrum,” he said.
Bryant Selebangue, a 6-foot-9 forward from The Rise Centre (TRC) Academy in Brantford, knows coaches and scouts are watching him and loves the pressure.
“Scouts help me perform better,” he said. “Obviously, they’re here to watch me perform at my best so I try and play at my fullest potential.”
Selebangue understands exactly what coaches are looking for from a player in his position.
“Nowadays, scouts look for bigs (a player who’s big and tall) that can dribble and shoot,” he said. “So, I feel like me showcasing that makes me look better than all the other bigs.”
Starting his final year of high school, Selebangue has gotten offers from Division 1 NCAA schools but is focused on the season ahead, providing the energy his team needs to win a championship.
Brown said it is players such as Selebangue who draw the crowds.
“A lot of the time, the coaches have guys targeted and that’s the only reason they’re coming,” he said.
Brown said basketball showcases are usually run as a camp where players show up and do drills.
But the tournament style games the OSBA puts on allows coaches to see the top players compete against each other at a high level.
“Everyone’s different with scouting,” Brown said. “Every situation is different based on what the team needs.”
He said the decisions players make on the court, the effort they play with, and their individual skill sets are what coaches are looking for to fill the roles needed for each team.
Brown anticipates interest in young Canadian basketball players will only increase.