Lorne Clark's 2002-03 Pre-Season Canadian Top 10
Over the past number of years, the level of Canadian basketball had continued to rise at a rapid pace, with the class of seniors getting stronger by the year. 2002 saw the emergence of Denham Brown (UConn), Bernard Cote (Kentucky), Levon Kendall (Pitt), Kevin Massiah (Western Kentucky), and 24 other Canadian seniors who signed with Division 1 schools.
So far in 2003, 11 players have made their commitments. With a great amount of development going on thanks to emerging AAU programs such as GrassRoots Canada led by Ro Russell, this nation north of the border is becoming one of the most popular sources of talent for the NCAA outside of the United States. With a number of players still on the board, here is a look at the top 10 seniors in the Canadian class of 2003.
1. Olu Famutimi – Guard, Northwestern (MI): What many people do not know is that Famutimi hails from Toronto, Ontario. Thus making Famutimi the top ranked Canadian senior, despite choosing to spend most of his high school career south of the border. This explosive leaper has a chance to be the first Canadian to play in the McDonalds's All-American game this coming spring. Over the past few seasons, Canada has produced some high-profile players, and Famutimi is the next one. In the end Famutimi signed with Arkansas over the likes of Missouri and Memphis. He is a huge athlete with pro potential, and it will be interesting to see how many seasons he actually spends down in Fayetteville.
2. Sheray Thomas – Forward, Riverdale Baptist (MD): Another Canadian choosing to play his high school ball down south, Thomas is headed to Kentucky to play alongside fellow Montreal native Bernard Cote. Outside of Toronto, Montreal is the clear top producer of talent, having sent Cote along with Siena's Prosper Karangawa and has future players such as Pierre-Marie Cespedes and Olivier Lamoreux waiting in the wings. Thomas is an inside-outside player who is very versatile and could one day become a solid wing with enough hard work. Thomas selected Kentucky over Virginia, Boston College, and West Virginia.
3. Majak Kou – Shooting Guard, Cathedral HS (Hamilton, On): Extremely talented wing has signed with Loyola-Chicago in what could be considered one of the biggest steals of the recruiting season. Loyola assistant Scott Spinelli worked quickly and hard, to get a commitment from the top wing in Canada, realizing that a future backcourt of Kou and Terrence Whithers was one that could lead them to the top of the Horizon conference. Kou is a definite top 100 player who always brings the crowd to their feet with his array of offensive moves and athleticism. Deadly outside shooter who shot the three at a 50% clip last season, and can also create at will. Only concern with Kou is his skinny frame. Kou is an extremely hard worker with a very high basketball IQ that will allow him to be very successful at the next level. Had heard from the likes of Oregon, St. Joe's, Oregon State, Ohio University and Old Dominion.
4. Antwi Atuahene – Combo Guard, Father Henry Carr (Toronto): Atuahene is the majority's top ranked senior still playing his high school ball in Canada. Participated this past summer in both the NBA and Nike camps. Atuahene is an extremely quick and strong guard who averages over 35 points per game. He is also a great team leader who can play both guard positions and gets to the rim at will and hits the tough shots in traffic. He has a very Antwaan Jamison like floater that he hits from all over the floor and in transition. Most of his 35+ per game come from in the lane and getting to the line. Atuahene also possesses great court vision and is a very good passer. Easily the top scorer in all of Canada, and leads the nations number one high school team, Father Henry Carr along with 6-9 super-soph Theo Davis. Atuahene is unsigned and currently his most interest is coming from Georgia Tech, East Carolina and Florida International.
5. Patrick Tatham – Forward, Chinguacousy (Brampton, Ontario): Tatham is a bruising versatile forward that has committed to St. Bonaventure in what could also be considered a great steal for the Bonnies. Tatham is relentless inside and plays above the rim with more power then any other Canadian senior. Has made great strides in his wing game, and shoots the ball very well from outside. Hard work on his footwork and handles is now letting him become that inside-outside threat that teams covet so much. His great strength inside will allow him to be one of the most powerful freshmen in the Atlantic-10. Will create lots of mismatches and is talented enough to play for any team in the conference. Tatham has a real chance to be a four-year starter, and in the end, that option along with being close to home is what sold him on St. Bonaventure over Penn State and Wintrhop.
6. Dejan Grkovic – Forward, Sherwood (Hamilton, On): Highly skilled big man, from a Serbian background. Grkovic has the ability to put it on the floor and shoot the ball, however he also has real inside toughness and a wide variety of low-post moves. Moves so well with and without the ball and creates huge mismatches for the opposition. Grkovic is one of those extremely hard workers who will touch the ball on every possession due to his aggressiveness. Grkovic has a lot of guard skills, and intangibles which cannot be coached. Is a mid-high level player who is still relatively unknown. One of the true hidden gems who slips through the cracks every once and a while. Has recently heard from Western Kentucky, UNC-Wilmington, Albany, Central Connecticut State, San Francisco, Texas A&M-Corpus Christie, and Holy Cross amongst others. Will likely generate interest from a few high-major teams intrigued by this skilled big-man.
7. Shane Morrison – Shooting Guard, C.W. Jeffrey's (Toronto): Most likely a candidate to do a year of prep school following this season. Morrison is a very explosive and athletic guard who plays above the rim. Has real strength and toughness and gets to the hole by staying low and using his strength. Is a Toronto favorite due to his acrobatics on the court and his ability to play above the rim with style. Right now is a more of a shooting guard then a point due to his ability to score and put up huge numbers. If he had more height, many would be comparing him to Denham Brown who hails from the same Toronto neighborhood. Although not as strong a shooter as Brown, he creates, scores and attacks much like him. Has heard from Syraucse, St.John's, and UAB, although prep school is likely his next destination.
8. Jemino Sobers – Forward, Mother Teresa (Toronto): Another of the extremely athletic Canadian seniors still on the board. Sobers is gifted with a great amount of athleticism, good touch, a long body and very soft hands. However his post game is very raw. He has been used primarily as a run and jump forward and this shows when he plays, as he is often used to catch lobs and come down the wing and dunk. Sobers may have more upside then any of the forwards mentioned above. His athleticism and soft hands will allow him to develop a solid post game with good coaching. Needs to play with more passion and drive at times. Can sometimes be passive and let the game come to him instead of dominating like he can. Right now is a real good mid-major prospect with a chance to develop into a high level player down the road. There is no question of the type of player he will develop into, in the right situation. Currently his interest comes from Butler, Central Connecticut State, Western Kentucky, Toledo, Ohio University, American, Texas A&M-Corpus Christie and San Francisco.
9. Henry Bekkering – Wing Forward, W.R. Meyers (Taber, Alberta): Bekkering is a huge athlete with great strength for a sixteen-year-old senior. Still a youngster, Bekkering possesses a 41-inch vertical and can touch 11'6 off a one-foot take-off. Also already bench-pressing around 250 pounds. Bekkering is a solid wing with very strong inside post skills. Is working hard on becoming more of a pure wing to complete the transition he made a year ago. Can sometimes play out of control and needs to improve his footwork and handles. Despite that, there is no question he will become a great wing and this is a kid who some high major needs to take a chance on since he is nearly two years younger than any senior who hails from Ontario. Has such superior strength and athleticism to anyone in the western portion of the country. What most people do not know is that Bekkering is a two-sport star that also plays football. Bekkering is a Kicker/Wide Reciever who can kick field goals from 60 yards out and is receiving high-major looks. So far has heard from Oregon, Oregon State, Mississippi, and Oklahoma and has received offers from Eastern Washington and BYU. Still undecided.
Tie-10. Negus McKenna – Forward, Champlain-St.Lambert (Montreal): Another post forward who is making the transition to the wing. McKenna is very strong and athletic inside and has very developed post skills. Due to his size, he is making the transition to the wing and has been successful so far this season. Although as of right now, playing on the block is more of his specialty. Canada produces a large amount of high-flying athletes, and McKenna is another one of them. He has hops that will put him up with North America's finest leapers. McKenna will be a good fit at a strong mid-major program and provide great versatility for them. If he continues to develop his face up game, could be considered a major steal one day because he does shoot the ball well and is so athletic. McKenna is still unsigned however is receiving interest from UNC-Wilmington, St. Bonaventure, Richmond, Furman, Holy Cross and Monmouth.
Tie-10. Shane James – Combo Guard, Milliken Mills (Markham, Ontario): Very methodical and smooth combo guard who loves to run the point. Type of player that will one day be a coach. Feels out the game so well and rarely makes any mistakes or costly turnovers. Plays solid defense and is a strong outside shooter. James is the type of player every coach loves to have. He plays the game with such advanced knowledge and you know exactly what you will get from him on the court. Although he does not play above the rim, he is a very good athlete as evident by a 35 inch vertical. James also has a knack for scoring tough baskets in traffic. James needs to become more dominating at times as he has that ability. Will sometimes worry more about getting his teammates touches, then taking over the game by scoring easy baskets on defenders he can dominate. Nonetheless is a definite mid-major prospect that is being recruited by Wichita State, UNC-Wilmington, Butler, Old Dominion, Central Connecticut State, Albany and Ohio University.
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