Oshawa, ON - The inaugural Pro Canadian Invitational took place at the Playground Durham on Saturday, April 23, 2022, showcasing the best of Canada’s graduating college and university basketball ballers in one spot.
Founded by Kevin Barnes Director of Business development for the Playground global. This event quickly became a massive collaboration amongst Canadian basketball stakeholders and included organizations lead by influential figures like Drew Ebanks of OnPoint Basketball.
Canada Basketball continues to grow year by year across the country, but the work isn’t only being done by the Toronto Raptors and our Olympians but on every level. From the Grassroots level, high school, prep schools, colleges, and universities, everyone seems to play a part in growing the game of basketball in Canada.
It’s not often players from Division 1, U SPORTS, and CCAA get to compete against each other under the same roof. Thirty-two players suited up on day one and were assigned to specific coaches and separated by positions.
Omar Miles current CCAA national championship head coach with the Humber Hawks, and Bill Crowdis founding partner of Euroball.ca were present. NBA shooting coaches Dave Love and Nathan Slegers were testing their new shot track data system with the Pro Can athletes.
Just to name a few. The organizing committee identified and invited coaches and players from all over North America to form a memorable experience. Big brands like Gatorade, the closet inc and Xeist came on board and added fuel to an already strong foundation.
The Pro Canadian Invitational at its core value was introduced to increase participation, create jobs, and provide a platform for collaboration within the Canadian basketball landscape. Coaches from across the country came together to form a memorable experience for the top Canadian players. Coach Jeremy Kayeye of Ryerson University, Coach Mike De Giorgio of the University of Toronto, Coach Christopher Rao of Niagara college, and Danielle Boiago of McMaster University each had a team of eight players that were set to compete against one another.
With each player looking to make the best impression on the coaches, scouts, and agents in attendance, the level of intensity was terrific from the start. From 20-point blowouts to buzzer-beaters to force overtime, the games were must-see. With all the talent level, it wasn’t easy for coaches and scouts to pick the top 20 players who would compete against one another at Durham College the following day.
The camaraderie among basketball professionals in Canada is what helps the game flourish and grow rapidly. The various media present all had the chance to cover players, conduct interviews, and share memorable moments with one another. When it was all said and done, every player, coach, media member, scout, and agent seemed to have left with a smile, as day one couldn’t have gone any better.
On Sunday, the top 20 players selected took the court, and the four coaches were separated into two coaching staffs. Team White was coached by coach Rao, and Boiago and Team Black were coached by Coach Kayeye and De Giorgio. The Ottawa Gee-Gees forward - Maxime Boursiquot started the game on fire for Team Black scoring 6 of the first 9 points. The highflyer from Simon Fraser University - Jordan Lyons, got the crowd going early on with two big dunks for Team White. Despite the early effort from Lyons and Malcolm Glanville, Team Black was too much to handle offensively shooting 62.5 percent from the field after the first quarter. This helped them take an early 10-point lead. Team Black moved the ball well all game long and never let up. The total team effort helped them take a 20-point lead to end the third period. A late push by Lyons and Glanville, who cut the lead to 13, was not enough. Godwin Boahen closed out the game with a free throw as Team Black won the first Pro-Can Invitational game 95-81.
Maxime Boursiquot won the player of the game, finishing with a game-high 17 points (66%), six rebounds, and three blocks.
“It was a great experience for guys to get exposure and experience,” said Boursiquot. “I had a fun weekend. I got to compete, got to meet new guys, and play with some old guys. I think overall, it was great!
Overall, this was a memorable event and a stepping stone to the growing opportunities and game of basketball for Canadians. Coach Kevin Barnes and Drew Ebanks did a phenomenal job planning this event. Everyone benefited, from players to coaches, media members, scouts, and agents. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for these bright young stars.