North Pole Hoops brings hope­fuls’ camp to Wind­sor

Lancers get a scout­ing take on bas­ket­ball prospects at St. De­nis Cen­tre on week­end

Windsor Star - - SPORTS - JIM PARKER jp­parker@post­ twit­­starparker

The re­cruit­ing game con­tin­ues to change and Univer­sity of Wind­sor Lancers men’s head bas­ket­ball coach Chris Oliver has no in­ten­tion of be­ing left be­hind.

Oliver and the Lancers will wel­come North Pole Hoops (NPH) to the St. De­nis Cen­tre on Satur­day and Sun­day as the scout­ing ser­vice greets 70 bas­ket­ball hope­fuls look­ing to take their game to an­other level.

“North Pole Hoops has been around for a while and been to Wind­sor pre­vi­ously,” Lancers men’s head bas­ket­ball coach Chris Oliver said. “It’s been a while since they’ve been back.”

Hired by the Lancers in 2005, Oliver has watched the re­cruit­ing game change over the years in part with the ser­vices pro­vided by NPH, which ranks play­ers and puts out high­light videos that the ser­vice refers to as a player’s mix tape.

“Whether coaches do or not, play­ers value it,” Oliver said. “They have a so­cial me­dia pres­ence and play­ers value the op­por­tu­nity to com­pete for a rank­ing. “I think (NPH) has be­come that im­por­tant. It’s not the only one, but I think the most sig­nif­i­cant with cross-coun­try cov­er­age.” NPH will hold 15 of these camps across the coun­try in each prov­ince this year and founder Tariq Sbiet will bring it back to Wind­sor for the first time in five years. “This is part of our na­tional camp cir­cuit,” Sbiet said. “The Wind­sor re­gion is some­times for­got­ten be­cause it’s close to the border. The op­por­tu­nity Toronto kids get is some­thing we want Wind­sor kids to get and we see this as a chance for ex­po­sure and growth op­por­tu­nity.” Sbiet cred­its Oliver with play­ing a big role in get­ting NPH back into Wind­sor.

“We have the sup­port of Chris Oliver and the univer­sity and that’s a big part of it,” Sbiet said. “He’s for­ward-think­ing and un­der­stands the ben­e­fits to bring it in. We think Wind­sor has a ton of po­ten­tial.”

NPH al­ready has plenty of Wind­sor ties. Catholic Cen­tral high school prod­uct My­chal Mul­der, who went on to play at the Univer­sity of Ken­tucky and was a first-round pick in the NBA G League, was ranked by NPH and will re­turn this week­end to serve as a guest coach. So will Forster high school grad Mu­nis Tutu, who was a mem­ber of Canada’s men’s team at last month’s Com­mon­wealth Games. Lancers grads Mike Rocca and Josh Collins are also prod­ucts of NPH and will be back as camp in­struc­tors. “We start in sixth grade and go to Grade 12,” Sbiet said. “We eval­u­ate play­ers for 16 hours, scrim­mage, do drills and a sem­i­nar to un­der­stand the pre­req­ui­sites needed at the next level.” The No. 1 thing a prospect has to learn is it’s not just about skill. “A lot shoot them­selves in the foot be­fore they even get here,” Sbiet said. “They want to play Divi­sion I, but they don’t have the aca­demics.”

Sbiet said kids will also learn about the neg­a­tive im­pact of re­cruit­ing and the dan­gers of so­cial me­dia.

“We know there’s a bunch of hid­den gems,” Sbiet said. “There are op­por­tu­ni­ties out there, if you go to work. It’s not just D1, D2 , D3 uni­ver­si­ties. There’s schol­ar­ship money there for them in Canada.” While 70 play­ers are set to com­pete this week­end, Sbiet said there is room for more to at­tend and in­ter­ested ath­letes can find in­for­ma­tion on the camp, which is $199, on its web­site at­case.north­pole­ “There’s a big picture out there,” Sbiet said.

“You can be the best in your re­gion, but the next step is to be the best in the coun­try and then the world.”

Over 150 uni­ver­si­ties subscribe to Sbiet’s NPH data­base in­clud­ing the Lancers and NCAA power Michigan State Univer­sity. Oliver will be one of sev­eral univer­sity coaches tak­ing in the two­day camp and he hopes to make Wind­sor an an­nual stop and Sbiet is open to the idea.

“We feel we have the sup­port of the com­mu­nity and want to be back ev­ery year,” Sbiet said. The Lancers have been to the OUA Fi­nal Four in five of the last six sea­sons and Oliver said an event like this can be a boost to keep the pro­gram in con­tention each sea­son.

“We’d like this event to keep com­ing back to our fa­cil­ity,” Oliver said. “I would say to all coaches at the U Sports level, that’s part of what we have to do is stay relevant.”

A lot shoot them­selves in the foot be­fore they even get here. They want to play Divi­sion I, but they don’t have the aca­demics.

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