Don’t let the name fool you, there’s no secret about the talent the Brampton-based CIA Bounce basketball program has helped produce. I guess there is a reason it’s not called NSA Bounce, because with recent alumni such as Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, who needs Edward Snowden to get the word out anyway?
A lot of eyes, cell phones and note pads will be descending upon Brampton’s Soccer Centre complex July 27-28 for the fifth installment of the Caribana Classic, showcasing top high school/AAU talent from Ontario and beyond. With approximately 130 participants confirmed as of July 21, the Caribana Classic has become a summer staple for collegiate recruiting on both sides of the border. It also provides a crucial opportunity for homegrown talent to get on the radar for collegiate scholarships.
Last year, the Caribana Classic’s fourth installment drew scouts and coaches from over 75 collegiate programs, including Kentucky’s John Calipari and several other D1 championship contenders. CIA Bounce had three alumni ranked in ESPNU’s Top 100 for the 2013 class, with Tyler Ennis (Brampton, Ont. – Syracuse) and Xavier Rathan-Mayes (Scarborough, Ont. – Florida State) joining No. 1 – ranked and now Kansas commit Andrew Wiggins (Thornhill, Ont.). This year is expected to at least match 2012’s scouting contingent.
Participants sign up individually, and anyone included in the upcoming graduating class or younger is eligible. CIA Bounce President Tony McIntyre prefers it that way, as he explains “When you bring in teams, you limit what you see because they [the players] are coming in with predefined roles. With individuals we get to see more – how they adjust to playing with guys they are not used to, and different roles and situations.”
Participants will get some more exposure to the recruitment process, and will practice with their assigned teams prior to hitting the hardwood in competitive games.
Considering the type of event and the minimal scouting of prospects that stayed closer to home, the tournament gives more players an opportunity to stand out or surprise scouts. After all, graduating prospects and prep school transfers will need to fit in with a new basketball program and teammates anyway.
While it is difficult to match the notoriety of the top 2013 classmen, the program’s attention and growth of basketball in the GTA has led to a deeper participant field.
McIntyre points to players such as Chris Egi (Markham, Ont.), Montaque Gill-Caesar (Downsview/Toronto, Ont.), Kevin Zabo (Gatineau, PQ) and 2016 prospect Jamal Murray (Kitchener, Ont.), who are just some of the featured prospects that expect to be headed to Division I ball in the next 2-4 years.
Egi and Gill-Caesar were named International Co-MVPs at the Nike Global Challenge tournament in Washington, DC earlier this month. Gill-Caesar is ranked 17th in ESPN’s Top 60 for the class of 2015, and the 6-foot-6 Huntington Prep small forward has offers from Baylor, West Virginia, Illinois, Purdue, Ohio State, Alabama, and Kentucky (ESPN confirms the Baylor and Ohio State offers, and the interest from Kentucky).
Northpolehoops.com has listed Columbia, Harvard, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue and NC State as potential suitors for the 6-foot-9 Egi (ESPN confirms only Harvard thus far). Egi has also recently announced his withdrawal from St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, to attend Montverde Academy in Florida this upcoming year. In April, Jamal Murray was invited to the Jordan Brand Classic (U16) International Game in Brooklyn, NY, where he earned MVP honours with a 24-point, seven rebound performance.
McIntyre touts the Caribana Classic showcase as having something for everyone, from getting to see some of the top players in the country to also getting to discover some diamonds in the rough.
“Every year we have someone that comes out and surprises, such as Matthew Wright who went on to earn a spot at St. Bonaventure,” said McIntyre. “You get to see a great example of what Canadian Basketball has to offer, some of the best young players in the country, and get to see a lot of scouts and coaches you see on television from a number of well-known basketball programs.”
With players from Canadian provincial and national programs, the Caribana Classic is an event not to be missed.
Photo Credit: Nation of Blue