North Pole Hoops brings hopefuls’ camp to Windsor
Lancers get a scouting take on basketball prospects at St. Denis Centre on weekend
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 at www.showcase.northpolehoops.com “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.