They've got a ton a rep-tested players coming into the grade 9 class and they should be the show while the senior team recovers from heavy losses. Remember this team won the YRAA championship last season and should be even better on paper come November. Incomers include players hailing from the highly successful 98's (and 5-peat Ontario champions) Vaughan Panther rep program and the well-respected Toronto JCC basketball program, which means these young bloods know success. Sure they lost some guys to the senior program but there will still be enough resonance to help this generation take a run at another chip.
FATHER HENRY CARR('')
Another program that will benefit from a strong grade 9 class. Many of the newbies are headed straight over from the much-hyped CIA/BOUNCE rep program in Brampton. Not sure how the talent will scatter across the Sr./Jr. teams but the Crusaders should field a top squad and still have enough talent to go around.
While the program as a whole remains a bit of a mystery to those outside the walls at Crothers their hoop teams have shown steady progression on the school circuit. The junior Colts were ousted in the semi finals of their region last year but are expected to reload for the upcoming schedule. Can't see yet how much extra edge the millions of dollars in facilities have given their players but if they win their region this year I'll be the first to give dap.
Another perennial favourite and with good reason. Not only do they have a generation of good ballers at their doorstep but they are actually starting to make noise again. MT hasn't been the hottest name on the block in basketball circles in recent years and might still live off past successes, but they're bubbling. They are like the Utah Jazz of the high school scene and it might not change much this season. Not bad, but not great.
ST. ANDREW'S COLLEGE('')
Believe it or not this little private yuppie-breeding school north of Toronto is actually building a respectable basketball program. Not only do they boast 6'8 team Canada forward Chris Egi on the senior team but they'll have a nice collection of role players waiting in line on the junior team. Unfortunately the best of the incoming talent have been persuaded to join the senior program and the best of the junior players from last season have moved up. With no discernible go-to guy the young bucks will be hard-pressed to keep pace with the elite. The Vaughan Panthers rep programs seems to have the largest collection of kids enrolling at SAC.
Good coaching has mostly kept this squad on track and with a couple of maybe stars they could make some interesting things happen this season. They hovered around the top 10 for most of last year but never seemed to be able to crack that next level. They'll have an even blend of rookies and sophomore's to see if they can find the right formula. A tough call.
ST. MIKE'S COLLEGE('')
With a long history of creating guards St. Mike's won't miss a beat this year. The junior team has some talent at the floor general spot, maybe even a kid or two to build on, but the crapshoot is on the beef. Junior squads are bigger now than ever before and unless I've missed something, the young guns of the old church don't seem to have much size on their side. I could be wrong if they've got more returnees than I'm hearing but with school stud Duane Notice gone from the senior squad guys are no doubt climbing to fill the void. Many of the rookies have wandered throughout various rep programs in and around the city. More than one has experience running with the Vaughan Panthers rep program.
JEAN VANIER CHS (Richmond Hill)('')
Not only do the Jaguars have their two best junior players returning to the roster this season but I'm hearing they have a 2 or 3 ready-to-go niners to help avenge their regional loss to Vaughan last season. Along with Henry Carr, Jean Vanier hosts one of the early events on the season with "The Double Blue" tournament. That's when they are expected to unveil a much improved team featuring players from the Scarborough Blues, CIA/Bounce and Toronto JCC families.
What can you say? The Mecca within the Mecca of basketball in Toronto the Saints program is still as strong as ever. Last year the juniors fielded a top 5 team and should be hanging around in much the same way this year. Couldn't get a read on the specific rep programs that will have their kids attending school their but I do know that they tried to recruit quite a few. They had a few bites and really, when has Eastern Commerce ever needed more than that to make a go of it?
Burgeoning Brampton powerhouse d'Youville doesn't just have the weirdest name of all the school's we are breaking down, they might also have the most interesting environment. Not only is the JAM tournament a success but the junior JAM is one of the few real showcase style tournaments on most schedules in this division. Had some triumph as a finalist in the Crusader Classic last season but never really matched that effort again. New blood should help the represent well at their own and other tourney’s all season long.
VAUGHAN ROAD ACADEMY('')
For all the hits the Grassroots Canada basketball program took in the wake of the Ro Russell scandal they are still in the business of making basketball players. Judging by how fast the 98’ team they assembled for last year’s OBA season is breaking up nobody will remember that they were semi-finalists in just their first (and only?) year on the provincial circuit. In any case, many of them have ended up here so we know there will a good physical component to their approach. They’ll need a star to balance it out though. Anyone?
OTHER TEMS TO WATCH:
5. POPE JOHN PAUL II
7. HOLY TRINITY
9. WEST HILL
10. JEAN VANIER (Toronto)
Can anybody put names to these teams?