Canadians Star In Ohio
Published by Gilbert Muako on July 16, 2010
In our time spent in Ohio last week, we went through three superb events taking place in the midst of all the LeBron James madness. In order, it went LeBron James Skills Academy, King City Classic, and the ESPN Super Sophomore Camp.
Both Skills Academy and King City Classic featured three Canadians, Khem Birch, Myck Kabongo and Kylre Wiltjer who recently represented Canada in the U18 FIBA games in San Antonio.
The Super Sophomore Camp, on the other hand, saw a glimpse of the bright future of Canadian basketball with Tevin Findlay, Tyler Ennis, Nick Madray and Tanveer Bhullar.
After technical workouts, skills sessions, and speeches from some influential names in basketball, most of the young athletes from the Skills Academy were moved over to the King City Classic where they put what they had learned into real game situations.
“It’s just a great experience, all the great talent is in one spot, then you throw in all the NBA coaches, I used it as an opportunity to get better,” Says Wiltjer. “I think it’s a well rounded camp, I definitely picked up a lot of post moves and just playing hard, that was the main focus this weekend.”
The Super Sophomore Camp had a skills and work station but was more focused on games. Some the top sophomores across the nation were set into teams and showcased their talents.
Khem Birch 6-foot-9 Forward:
Birch was no doubt a top-five performer in the King City classic. He had his name buzzing around the Cleveland State gymnasium after each of his performance. An athletic freak who is extremely active around the basket. He had his hands on every missed shot both on offensive and defensive end, whether scoring the put-back basket, snatching it and kicking back out or slapping it to a teammate when the ball was out of reach to truly grab. At 6-foot-9, Birch had the greatest wingspan (86”) in the event which he put into use as he terrified offensive players with his great ability to block shots. It is obvious the young man is still learning the game offensively but he was really impressive scoring when given the opportunity. He has good hands, great bounds and has exellent body control attacking the rim, very creative finishing around the basket from a pass, runs the floor extremely well and will finish above the rim on the transition, not yet consistent but Birch did show a good shooting form from 15feet out. Tough, but very thin, Birch has a huge presence in the paint being the best shot blocker in the gym. He will become a big time player as he grows his offensive game and as his body develops.
Kyle Wiltjer 6-foot-9 Forward:
Wiltjer has a lot to bring on the floor. He is not the most athletically gifted player you will find, but it’s so refreshing to see the understanding he has at this age. He isn’t too physical ether but has great skills inside to get around the defense to score, using a variety of shoulder fakes and pump fakes to keep the defender off balance or shielding his man to get himself in position for an easy bucket. He is very quick on his feet and had numerous tip-in baskets each game. What was also very impressive was how good of a passer Wiltjer was from the high post. He is unselfish, always looked to create opportunity for his teammates to score. He can take it outside as well, were he’s effective knocking down three pointers with a soft touch. Wiltjer definitely has an old school feel to his game and shows his understanding of basketball is past most of his peers. Oregon, Oregon State, USC, Stanford, Gonzaga, Kansas, Georgia Tech all have a chance of landing the big man, but he’s looking for a school with a that will enable to him succeed the best.
“The style of play [is important], I’m a versatile big guy, I like to post up smaller defenders [and am looking for] offense fitting to my style,” Wiltjer said. “[What’s even more important is definitely a good coaching staff, the incoming recruiting class, and if I’m playing with a good point guard that would mean a lot.”
Wiltjer has yet to make a decision, but when he does it will be because of great people around him helping him to reach a decision.
“It’s an equal share between my dad, my mom, my AAU coach and my trainer,” Wiltjer said.
Myck Kabongo 6-foot-2 Point Guard:
Kabongo was not the usual as he is known for. With that said if you looked around the gym you would not have found a kid with the mental game and leadership skills that Kabongo possesses. He is truly a guy that can take a team a long way even if he is not having his best day. He was very influential throughout the course of a game, doing anything possible to motivate his team. Kabongo did slightly pick up his play in his two final games at the king city, taking better care of the ball, getting to the cup, pushing the temple and distributing the ball quickly.
ESPN Super soph Performers
Tevin Findlay 6-foot-3 Combo Guard:
Findlay looked extremely aggressive on the attack taking any given defender off the dribble and finishing at the rim. It seems Findlay has tightened up his handle as he was able to easily break down the defense and create a shot for himself or others. In the past I have criticized Findlay of being too much of a set shooter but he showed he is working on knocking down jumpers on the move, specifically on a possession where he displayed a quick cross over then step back for the jumper. Findlay has length and a quick first step. With continued work he will grow into a terrific scorer who can also pass.
Nick Madray 6-foot-9 forward:
The young big man did all the right things on the floor Boxing out, rebounding in his area and creating numerous fast break opportunities off of his outlet passes. Madray did not disappoint as he was one of the better bigs to take the floor. I was really impressed by his passing abilities, and the fact that he can also step out and hit the midrange shot when left open. Still very young and developing, he could be a very good player down the road.
Tyler Ennis 6-foot-2 Point Guard:
Usually in camps, most players are looking for their own shot, holding onto the ball a bit longer in order to stand out. Ennis, on the other hand, truly showed his maturity and his ability to be a lead guard. He did not shoot it well from outside like usual but attacked the midrange for a variety of jumpers. Ennis was impressive pushing the temple and putting teammates in positions to score. At times though, he did have some trouble beating faster, quicker guards off the dribble and will need to improve his explosiveness. It’s evident Ennis has pulled a couple of more inches.