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Private Eyes

Published by on November 28, 2011

The high school hoops scene in Toronto is bubbling and spreading out across the province as some of the top boys’ programs begin the season. With the US prep school movement taking some of the key players from the city and across the country, GTA (Greater Toronto Area) high school hoops may seem a little watered down…but in the Toronto area talent runs deep! One conference in particular may get some notice as it looks to develop its programs in response to the popularity of the sport as a whole. The private school sector in the GTA and its conference, the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association (CISAA), is gaining more and more talent in its schools and is increasingly showcased at major tournaments across the province.

Over the years, the most dominate private school program in the GTA has been powerhouse St. Michael’s College, producing such D1 prospects as Bernard Jackson(Cornell)and former NFL star O.J Santiago.  None are more popular, however, than former NBA player and Syracuse All-American Leo Rautins. The St. Mike’s basketball program has had a strong hold on the CISAA for decades and this year’s crop is looking to keep that hold. Leading them into what could be their most productive season yet is 6’3″ all-star combo guard Duane Notice, who has been the bread & butter to the squad for the last 3 years. Highly athletic, strong and a prolific scorer, Notice was relied heavily on until the emergence of arguably the province’s most powerful up-and-coming point guard – 6’2″ Malcolm Duvivier. “Duane and Malcolm both have come with a more mature attitude towards both basketball and school.” explains St Mike’s assistant Coach, Nunzio Corrente. “They are really trying to prepare themselves for that next level of play and in turn, help this school stay on top.”

Both representatives of Canada’s National Team system, the two make up one of the province’s deadliest backcourts. Add 6’0″ defensive guard, 15 year old Rayshane Case to the mix, and St Mikes is in prime OFSAA contention and at the top of the pack in the blossoming CISAA. “We’ve been very dominant in this conference over the years, but it is nice to see other schools starting to build solid programs,” says Corrente. “This year however, we have a good mix of youth and veteran players. We feel this could be the year that we make a stronger run at an OFSAA championship.”

Blossoming is exactly what the independent private school league is doing, giving St Mike’s stiffer competition than ever before. St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, ON is having major success lately with many of their sports programs as evidenced by their recent CISAA Football Championship victory.

The basketball program at SAC hasn’t historically been the strongest but this year it has seen some significant changes in response to a more serious approach to the sport. The emergence of 14 year old 6’7″ power forward, Christopher Egi, one of the top prospects in the country in his 2015 class, has upside unimaginable for SAC’s 1st team. Athleticism and a hunger that is a coach’s dream has seen this honour roll student make major strides since starting to play this sport seriously only two years ago. “Chris is an extremely talented athlete with tremendous work ethic,” says 5th year St. Andrew’s College Head Coach, Sean Ludwig.”On the defensive end he challenges, blocks and alters anything in the key.”  Chris’ MVP performance for Team Ontario’s U15 squad and his appointment to Canada’s Cadet team this past summer (the youngest player to represent) says volumes of his potential. St. Andrew’s has a few pieces building around him as well and, although young, they have years to gel and build a chemistry to make them a threat in this league. Ludwig adds, “With the mix of veteran leadership in players like senior guard Larry Filipopoulos and youthful potential in guards Daniel Cummings and Jordan Carter, our goal is aiming for an OFSAA birth and doing a good job representing CISAA.”

Villanova College in King City, ON has made a statement with a new sports facility that is highly attractive for multiple sports in order to enhance their student athletes, attract more elite ones and start building stronger programs to compete. So said; so done. Now attending Villanova is 6’5″ guard-forward and 1st Team All-Star representing Team Ontario U15 Gold medalist at this summer’s Nationals, Devonte Campbell. With a motor and length that all kids desire, Campbell will be like his St. David rep program teammate, Egi – something to build around. Add veteran shooting guards Vince DiVito and David Monaco, scrappy forward Gianmarco Luciano and Villanova will be a force in the CISAA. “We are excited about the upcoming season with our core guys aforementioned and (we) are looking on continuing to build on our program.” explains long time Head Coach at Villanova College, Paul Paradiso. He adds, “We will be very competitive in CISAA Division 1 play, with sights on finishing 1st place in the West Division.”

Other programs are following suit such as Upper Canada College and, although this sport may not be as strong as the hockey and football programs you have seen in CISAA, it is evolving and promises an exciting future for basketball amongst the private school programs. Definitely players and teams to keep an eye on this season and down the road.

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