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Opportunities For Young Basketball Talent In Canada Keeps Expanding

Canada has experienced an unprecedented rise in the numbers of young basketball players who have been recruited to US prep schools, NCAA Division 1 colleges and made it to the NBA and other professional leagues around the globe, but it’s not all about the recent back-to-back number one overall NBA draft picks or the well known elite talent coming up behind them.

Opportunities for young basketball talent in Canada keeps expanding beyond the obvious programs like CIA Bounce in Brampton, Ontario because of the efforts of programs like Ball On My Mind and many other others geared to those talented prospects who might just need a little more exposure and training to elevate their game and get noticed.

At the end of August, Ball On My Mind held a “Hold Your Own Showcase and Create Your Own Mixtape” event for high school age players in Brampton with NC Preps scout Chris Hemphill of there to provide advice and spread the word in the US about some of Canada’s hidden gems. Over 100 high school age basketball players took advantage of the program.

“When you put a good product out there like Ball On My Mind is doing, the kids are going to hear about it and they are going to come,” said CIA Bounce coach Mark Poyser. “Near the end of the summer, kids assess what happened over the summer. Did they accomplish some of their goals? Were they seen? Were they exposed? Did they get what they set out to do? And if that didn’t happen, they are hungry. They are looking for the next thing. Today is August 28th and this gym is packed with a lot of talent (from) right across the GTA (greater Toronto area) and I think it’s (because of) the product.

“Ball On My Mind has some really good coaches from all different programs in Ontario and the skills and the drills they have been doing is going to elevate their games.

“Dalston (Spencer of Ball On My Mind) did the legwork. He was in the gyms. He comes to the high school games. He comes to the exposure camps and he talks to the coaches and he tells them what the intention is. When he told me the intention is he just wants to make sure all kids are taken care of – because the high level kids are going to be taken care of – there is a whole group of middle to low level kids that are being forgotten and they are talented. There is CIS, there’s college, D2, D3, there is low D1, there is a spot for some of these kids and he said he wants to take care of some of those kids.

“When he told me that, I’m like, I coach at CIA Bounce and we take care of the high level kids, but you’re right, not every one is a high level kid so we can’t just let these kids fall off. To add to that, he got Chris Hemphill from to come up and with you got ESPN which ranks the kids in the United States. We want them to see what’s happening in Canada and what he saw, he was thoroughly impressed.

“That’s what this camp is all about, to help everyone including the late bloomers.

The first Ball On My Mind camp was held in August of 2015 with about 60 kids and it was just a one day camp. Then Dalston put on another camp at the East Scarborough Boys and Girls club in January with a similar turnout. This August it was a three day event with 114 players and there was a lot of impressive talent on the court.

“I think everyone knows the candidates who are stars,” Spencer said. “There are other guys that are under the radar or have been overlooked, so when they come to an event like this with less stars, if that’s the right way to say it, it gives you an opportunity to be visible at the event and that’s what we really promote. We know that there are guys that could go Division 1 or Division 2 or Division 3 or play CIS basketball or Canadian college, but sometimes players get buried on the bench on a team that’s just too deep. That doesn’t mean you can’t play basketball, it just means your team has too many options at the moment with guys that can deliver. We want to encourage players to know that you can still play basketball.

“I believe Peel (region) has some of the best talent, but we also want to recognize that there are players that come from regions like Innisfil or Sudbury that might not get as much recognition and coming to this venue, this event, helps a player to carve out his own opportunity, his own name, to get to the next level.

“Even if you can’t make to Division 1, there is a lot of amazing basketball here in Canada and you should really take the opportunity to not just go to that school to play basketball, but Canada has some of the best educational institutions in the world. So you can get a great education and you are at home.”

The number of basketball clubs, teams and programs has been expanding at a rapid pace in Canada and the amount and level of talent is exploding lockstep. The elite talent heading to NCAA Division 1 college and the NBA Draft gets all the attention, but the young basketball talent and opportunities are far deeper. Events like Ball On My Mind’s “Hold Your Own Showcase” are getting even more Canadian kids on the US college radar and promoting the great opportunities to play CIS and college ball in Canada.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.





CIA Bounce U17 coach Nicholas Davis

Kids Who Work Hard Are Making It In Canadian Basketball

There are never before seen opportunities for Canadian kids playing basketball and perhaps it should go without saying, it’s the kids that work hard who are making the most of it. The same can be said of every sport, academics, career and life in general and it’s the lessons kids learn playing sports that can be applied later in life whether or not they go on to a career as a professional athlete.

“Right now kids have enormous opportunities that kids didn’t have growing up in the 70s, 80s and even the 90s in Toronto,” Nicolas Davis told Pro Bball Report at a recent CIA Bounce event in Brampton. “I started coaching basketball in 1987. I don’t ever remember seeing a (US College) coach coming to a gym until 1994 or 95 when (now former NBA All-Star) Jamaal Magloire played for our club team. At those times there wasn’t even any rules, so (coaches) would just show up. Jamaal was a special case, a 6’10 kid, really athletic and wasn’t until three or years years after that that I saw (US college coaches) showing up again.

“When we were coaching Magloire, it wasn’t really about trying to get kids scholarships. It was about trying to get kids to do stuff, get off the street and so we coached in tough neighborhoods. We coached some tough kids giving them something to do other than just hanging around the mall. Now kids look at it as an opportunity to get an education, to maybe get a job and find work as a professional basketball player.”

One of Canada’s rising stars Jaylen Llewellyn was at the CIA Bounce event and his father Bobby Llewellyn talked about the CIA Bounce program and how things have changed for young Canadian basketball players.

“It’s a great environment to learn, a competitive environment to be in, traveling to the United States on the AAU circuit and other tournament throughout the US,” Llewellyn said. “There is far more exposure (now). The kids are playing against top competition in the States and they are competing or exceeding expectations. Once (Americans) realized Canadians are putting out a product in a greater volume, now their coaches are coming here to our backyard.”

Nicolas Davis, assistant basketball coach at Sheridan College for 22 years, Canadian National Men’s Cadet Team assistant coach and CIA Bounce coach for the 17U team, takes pride in helping Canadian kids work hard and becoming successful wherever life takes them after he’s done coaching them.

“Hopefully we are teaching them life skills because not everyone is going to become a professional basketball player,” Davis said “Not everyone is going to get a (US College) Division 1 scholarship and not everyone is going to play post secondary school basketball.

“When I coached a team of kids in the 90s, we were the North York Champions and went undefeated and not one kid on that team played post secondary school basketball. So, what you are hoping kids get out of it is they learn some life skills and some life lessons that will actually help them outside of basketball like how to be a respectful person. How do I address adults. How you address coaches is the same thing. Hopefully they take that outside (of basketball).

“The discipline to do your work, to stay focused. How to respond when things aren’t going your way. How do you respond when something negative happens because you are not going to make every shot and sometimes you are going to turn the ball over and sometimes you are going to give up an easy basket. So, how do you respond to those things? That’s the same as in life. If you are in school and something bad happens like you don’t get a good mark, you can say you aren’t good in that subject or you can respond differently. You can say I’m going to study harder. I’m going to do what I need to do to pass that subject.

“The other thing is how to get along with people. How do you interact with people you may not have much in common with other than you are trying to win a championship. You may have different goals or you may not like someone, but you are on the same team together. How do we work well together? How do we make this work? I tell kids all the time, you are going to get a job and you are going to be working with people you don’t like, but you have to make it work or you are not going to have a job. I don’t like everybody I work with, but I’m respectful to everybody I work with, I treat them with dignity and I hope they give it back to me in return. It’s the whole team dynamics and personal skills as well.

“The other thing is hopefully I will give them confidence. You are trying to help kids be confident and find their voice on the basketball court and hopefully they find it outside of basketball too.”

CIA Bounce asks parents and kids to stay respectful, stay committed and as Llewellyn emphasized, “Trust the process.” This is an proven elite program with a growing list of alumni who have been drafted by NBA and playing for Davis’ 17U team is the goal players here are striving for. So what does this very experienced coach look for in the kids who want to play for him?

“We look for kids who get after it,” Davis said. “Kids who work really hard. They don’t necessarily have to be the best player, but kids who work really hard, they really get after it. We look for good character kids as well. We want kids that when we sub off they are happy for the next guy coming in. They support their teammates, they cheer for their teammates. You are also looking for kids that do have the skill set to play at a high level of basketball and you want to see kids who compete. When they are in the games, they are actually competing regardless of the score, regardless of the situation, they are going to compete.

“Hopefully he is a good student as well because the way AAU basketball is now, you can’t really go after kids who aren’t good students as well because (college) coaches won’t come to see them because they’ll never get them because they won’t be qualified.

“When you get them when they are young, you have to stress as a program that you need to do well in school. We ask our kids to bring their report cards so we can see them. If you are not doing well, we say you might not be able to play this spring because there isn’t any point in playing if you are not going to be qualified. So you might as well take the time off to get your marks (up) and your school work (done).

“If you don’t do well in school, you can’t play basketball. That’s just the way it’s going now. This is not the 70s and the 80s when I grew up where you could do seven years of high school and no one would say anything. You could flunk out of every class and still be eligible to play, that doesn’t exist anymore. That pressure to do well in school so you can play basketball will serve you well outside of basketball.”

CIA Bounce is now just one of many places to play basketball in the greater Toronto area and more players means more competition, more reasons for scouts to follow Canadian kids and more opportunities to play after high school.

“At an event like (CIA Bounce) we had 41 Division 1 coaches here and we just came back from Peach Jam with our 17U team and there had to be 200 Division 1 coaches watching,” Davis said. “It’s overwhelming sometimes for the kids.

“With that comes pressure and kids put a lot of pressure on themselves and programs put pressure on themselves to develop kids who are going to be seen by these (Division 1) coaches. There is some status that comes that’s not necessarily a good or a bad thing, but it’s there when your program has put 75 kids on Division 1 scholarships and four guys were drafted in the NBA.

“There’s an industry of all the other clubs that have opened up. When I started coaching in Brampton, there was Brampton, Mississauga, Hamilton, there was probably seven or eight (clubs). There is probably 50 teams now in the GTA. That’s how much it’s exploded. Brampton alone has five or six clubs. Mississauga has six or seven clubs alone. There is just so much more.”

There is more. More kids playing basketball at a high level in Canada and more opportunities to turn basketball into a college scholarship or even a professional career, but when you listen closely to what coach Davis is saying, those are not the most important aspects of playing his sport. He takes his greatest pride in the kids who fought through adversity to stay in school and used basketball as a motivator to achieve in life and that’s the real measure of success for all these programs.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.




Ball On My Mind is holding a Hold Your Own Showcase Event August 26 – 28, 2016 for high school age basketball players in Brampton with Chris Hemphill, scout with NC Preps in association with (One of the largest American Scouting Services in the US).
Spaces are limited. Registrations after August 12th will be accepted based on availability.




NBA TV Canada broadcaster Leo Rautins

How Canada Is Becoming A Basketball Country

Older generations of Canadians, especially those from smaller communities, often knew little about basketball, but things have changed dramatically since Leo Rautins burst onto the scene in 1977 as the youngest player in the history of the Canadian Men’s National team. Rautins went on to play for Syracuse University and become the first Canadian to be taken in the first round of the NBA draft in 1983.

With the arrival of the Toronto Raptors in 1995, basketball got a big lift in Canada and Rautins has a unique perspective as a retired Canadian NBA basketball player, former National Team head coach, current TV sports broadcaster and a father with sons that are playing the game. Things have changed since he was a teenager – changed a lot.

“Years ago we didn’t have all these kids, we really didn’t have all these outlets to play,” Rautins told Pro Bball Report at a recent CIA Bounce event in Brampton, Ontario. “You’d have a couple of programs and they could kind of manipulate situations a little bit not necessarily in favor of the kid. Whereas now you have a lot of groups that are giving kids opportunities in AAU and the club scene. So it’s very competitive and the quality has gotten better as far as the coaching and opportunities. With the Bounce program, they have club teams at every level, kids get an opportunity to play, great exposure, kids get an opportunity to work and develop.

“It’s a funny thing. For some of the kids it’s very valuable and it’s immediate and for some kids it’s a chance to maybe get on the radar. For some kids it’s a chance to say maybe I need to do a lot of work to see where I’m at, but it’s still a good opportunity in all those situations.

“This is something that for example, when I was coming up there was no such thing. I was lucky. I got got exposure because I played for Canada. We had a lot of talent around here, but none of the people I played with got the exposure I had, so they didn’t have the opportunities that I had. Now there is no such thing.

“If you can play, there is plenty of exposure. All the tournaments these guys play in and events like this. These club teams, they play in tournaments all over North America so they get get exposure and then you have events like this and you have maybe 50-60 coaches sitting there from all kinds of major colleges and universities in the (United) States. If you can play, you’ll be seen.”

Rautins son Andy was drafted by the New York Knicks in 2010 and currently plays professionally in Europe, however, his youngest boy Sam is still in high school and was participating at the CIA Bounce event.

“As a parent and being a coach, there are certain things I am going to look for,” Rautins said. “You want to put your kid in the best situation. One where they can play and develop and have fun. You should be having fun at this stage. For me it’s great. I know a lot of the people involved (in Bounce) over the years and even played against some of the people involved. It’s a nice environment and I know my son Sam is real comfortable with the kids (here). They are good kids. He likes the kids, likes the coaches, so it’s a good fun environment for him which as a parent that’s what you are looking for.”

US Colleges and Universities are well aware of the talent north of the border. CIA Bounce has seen current NBA players Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Tyler Ennis come thru their program before heading south to US Prep schools and Universities, but as Rautins pointed out, things are continuing to change here.

The “Prep school” concept has arrived locally. Thon Maker was drafted 10th overall by the Bucks in June after completing his fifth high school year at Athlete Institute in Orangeville, Ontario just north of Toronto. There are also poorly promoted opportunities for athletes to get a variety of scholarships in Ontario to offset the cost of post secondary education without heading south to the US.

Canada is becoming a Country that plays more than just hockey. Now basketball is big too. A Canadian being taken in the NBA Draft Lottery is no longer the exception and since Bennett and Wiggins went first overall in 2013 and 2014, expectations are high for the kids coming up after them. As Rautins pointed out, if you can play, you can get noticed.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.




Didn’t get to one of scouted events this summer in the Toronto area? Ball On My Mind is holding a Hold Your Own Showcase August 26 – 28, 2016 in Brampton with Chris Hemphill, scout with NC Preps in association with (One of the largest American Scouting Services in the US).




NBA Minnesota Timberwolves Andrew Wiggins

CIA Bounce Basketball Building Canada’s Next Star Players

CIA Bounce has developed a strong reputation for developing the next generation of Canada’s star basketball players heading to the NCAA and eventually the NBA. July 22 is the start of their next NCAA certified event, The 2016 Classic Exposure Camp in Brampton, Ontario and at this point the list of names that has gone thru their program is beyond impressive.

CIA Bounce NBA Alumni include Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Ennis, Sim Bhullar, Melvin Ejim and this year’s 7th overall NBA draft pick Jamal Murray. The list of CIA Bounce players that have gone on to play in the NCAA is considerably more extensive.


CIA Bounce Basketball Camp 2016



Sportsnet’s Dave Zarum has taken an indepth look into the history and future prospects of CIA Bounce,

In a relatively short span, Brampton,ON-based CIA Bounce has established itself as the preeminent youth sports program in Canada. Over the past decade it’s gone from humble and improbable roots—beginning with the merger of rival clubs Christians in Action and Blue Devil Bounce—to traveling around the world showcasing its talent.

And there aren’t any signs of the program slowing down. The U15 team proves there’s plenty of talent in the pipeline, but the senior U17 squad—the only Canadian team that takes part in Nike’s prestigious Elite Youth Basketball League circuit—is, simply put, star-studded, featuring four players ranked in the top 100 of their graduating class in North America by

The program has about 150 kids under its umbrella, from four-year-olds learning the basics of basketball in summer skills camps all the way up to the senior team playing a rigorous schedule against the best high school talent in the world on the AAU circuit.

Last summer Matik Enterprises Martin Keane talked with CIA Bounce’s Mark Poyser.

Mark Poyser, “I think that the CIA Bounce program is a very important ingredient for basketball in Canada. We travel non-stop from Spring to the Summer and participate in the biggest tournaments such as The Peach Jam, LeBron James tournament and CP3 Tournament etc. Our philosophy is to help push the kids to their goals and place them in the biggest tournaments for exposure. I think this is every important if you are trying to make it.”

“I believe we have the best crop of talent. Players such as Simisoula Shittu, Danilo D, Joel Brown (PG in HS next year), RJ Barrett, Little Llewellyn PG, Juwan Blair, Keyshaune Saunders to name a few.”

If you are an up-and-coming star basketball player in the GTA (Toronto) area and beyond and haven’t heard about CIA Bounce, it’s time to get acquainted –



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.