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Prepping For One Of Canada’s Toughest Invite Lists

Published by on June 3, 2011


What does it take to compile a list of the best male, high school players from coast to coast?  Well that’s the challenge of the All Canada Classic.  Each year, hundreds of names are considered, in order to be deemed worthy of being amongst the best High School basketball players in Canada.  And, with the big game scheduled for June 21, 2011 at the Air Canada Center in Toronto quickly approaching, it was time to have those rosters finalized.  I had the opportunity to catch up with a couple of the 2011 members of the All Canada Classic Selection committee, Nolan Shulman and Gilbert Muako (two-thirds of the committee that also includes Barry Hayes), as well as Drew Ebanks on the set of the All Canada Classic Selection Show for their take on what it took to tackle this monumental task.    

Nolan Shulman

Before getting the rosters to the point where the field of 22 players (11 per side) are named, a lot of planning and analysis had to be done. The First Round of selections took place in March, to whittle the field to 100 potential players. In April, another review brought those numbers down even further to the top 50 players. Then, the real fun began to bring the numbers down to those that are ultimately selected for the final rosters. “I think this year’s selection process was both extremely difficult and really exciting”, reflected committee chairman, Nolan Shulman, “the depth of talent is so strong that it led to some very difficult decisions”. And with the different points of view on the various players up for selection by the committee, it lead to many hours of discussions and analysis to get down to the final rosters. “Right now the wing position is very strong”, Shulman admitted after the narrowing down the list of players from the Top 50 to the final rosters. “There was at least 10 or 15 candidates vying for the 5 or 6 spots and that was probably the most difficult decision.” 

Gilbert Muako

The game is the brain child of Wayne Dawkins.  And, over the previous 10 games of this annual event, the basketball talent in Canada has increasingly been noticed the world over.  And because of that, “the importance of the game has increased and gets better every year”, observes Gilbert Muako, Selection Committee Member. This makes his task of helping to make selections quite a challenge.  And because of everyone’s unique point of view, he’s noticed that the names that have been included, or left off the nominees list “has created a buzz”.  Because of the game’s increasing importance, “its become a bigger deal to be selected, even to crack the top 50 nomination list is something that has ignited conversations and sparked debates.”

Drew Ebanks

Enter…the All Canada Classic Selection Show. The All Canada Classic Selection Show consisted of selection committee members Nolan Shulman and Gilbert Muako, was shot and edited by Matt Berdan and was hosted by Drew Ebanks.  Ebanks’ role was to MC the selection show by helping to reveal each of the rosters, while probing the committee members for details behind their selections. “The game is rich in tradition and because the sport is growing in this country, the game will garner a lot of attention”, he mentions, appreciative of the opportunity. “It was also an honour to be chosen to host the selection show because I’ve strived to promote the sport of basketball in this country for years and to see these young players achieving their dreams brings me a lot of joy.” 

Despite all of the hard work and planning necessary to even determine the players that qualify, Shulman kept things in perspective: ”I think any time you have kids that have the opportunity to play in front of their friends and family at the Air Canada Centre where the Raptors play, in such a famous building in our country, it’s just a unique, once in a lifetime experience for them”.  He went on to mention that ”This game is just a celebration of the careers and the prospects we have in our country”.  Muako echoed those sentiments by saying that it gives the players ”a chance to showcase their talent on such a high stage.  Its a special event that truly embraces our Canadian talent the right way”.

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