"Coming down to the states has taught me to be tougher," Narain said. "I’ve gotten more mature going to prep school. On the basketball side, Iv’e gotten tougher on the floor. I’m more physical and aggressive, and I’m stronger. It’s an eye opener because in Canada you only see so much because you only see it on Youtube or in AAU, but here it’s reality."
This past Friday, Narain and La Lumiere played one of the premier teams from Canada in Orangeville Prep, including high major recruits such as Jamal Murray, Thon Maker, Matur Maker, and several others. The familiarity made the game fun, but also brought out a competitive attitude between the two teams.
"It was good," Narain said. "It was kind of like a rivalry game. Even though they’re my friends and I’ve played with a lot of them before, it’s kind of like we’re playing for bragging rights really."
Last year, much of the talk surrounding Narain was regarding his potential. After putting in a lot of work this offseason, he feels more comfortable on the offensive end and has learned to use his natural length and range as a defender.
"My shooting consistency has gotten a lot better," he said. "I have more of an attacking mentality. I’m better shooting from the outside and my defense has gotten better."
Narain's frame makes him a versatile player all over the floor. He has the length and quickness to be a great perimeter defender, but can also disrupt shots in the paint with his height. His defense-first mentality, he says, has been a huge key to improvement in his overall game.
"It definitely helps being 6’10” but defense and rebounding is what you’re expected to do," Narain said. "I always try to go out and rebound and block shots. It starts on defense for me. That’s what I’ve always been taught. Some days my offense isn’t working as well so I need to stay active on defense."
Currently, Narain is hearing the most from Gonzaga, Illinois, San Diego State, Miami, Arizona, UCLA, Florida, and Vanderbilt. Having already come to the United States from Canada and playing a demanding travel schedule, Narain said that distance from home is secondary to him when it comes to a college.
"Distance doesn’t matter to me," he said. "I want the school that fits best and is most comfortable to me. I need a school that is a good school and has great people. I’m a big people person and like being around everyone that gets along. Of course I also like to have the ball, so I like a school that uses their bigs and runs plays through them."
Relationships are important to Narain. One school in particular that has had success with Canadian-born players in the past is Gonzaga, who has already hosted Narain on an official visit. However a few other schools, including Illinois, have been diligent in his recruitment, and he feels just as much at home with them as any other school.
"I felt like with all of the schools that have recruited me that I’ve built a good relationship," he said. "I have a good relationship with Gonzaga because I visited there and I’ve been around (their staff). I feel close to the Illinois guys because I see them a lot. I’m also close with the Miami guys as well. I haven’t really talked as much to Vanderbilt and Florida as much yet."
Illinois is one school that Narain wants to visit officially before coming to a decision. The bond he has with the staff and the style of play are appealing to him.
"I definitely plan on visiting in the near future," he said. "I think that Coach Groce and Coach Ford are really good people. They’re very active and I find that Coach Groce is very energetic and a nice guy. Jalen’s going there too so I hear about it from him sometimes too."
Jalen Coleman-Lands, a 2015 signee and teammate of Narain's at LaLu, will sometimes plant the recruiting seed with Narain, but Narain said that the prolific guard doesn't pressure him.
"He talks to me a little about it," Narain said, "but he gives me space and doesn’t want to overdo it. But sometimes he’ll talk to me and say things like ‘you and I could be doing this at Illinois.’."
Narain also said he doesn't feel that he's in any sort of a hurry to come to a decision and that he would like to let the whole process play out before ultimately choosing a school.
"I think I’ll probably take most of my visits before I make my decision," he said. "I’m still looking at my overall situation to try to come up with a timeframe for making my decision."