Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tristan Thompson: The Best Canadian Ever?; The Marvell Waithe Update
I just finished up a story for the upcoming issue of Basketball Times on Canadian forward Tristan Thompson and thought I’d mention a few things.
I covered the Texas-bound Thompson during his stint at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, when he was listed at 6-foot-8, 215 pounds. He’s now 6-10, 240 with a game that screams NBA potential. His mother, Andrea, said Tristan’s great-grandfather grew to 7 feet.
Thompson just returned Tuesday morning from an 18-hour adventure home from the FIBA U19 World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand. It was 13 hours from Auckland to Los Angeles and another five to his home in Toronto.
“I’m pretty tired,” Thompson said by phone. “I’ve been playing for the last four weeks non-stop so my body’s kind of tired. But I’ve been taking care of my body real well so I’ll probably need just two days to rest and I’ll be back in the gym working out.”
Thompson transferred to Findlay (Nev.) Prep from St. Ben’s after St. Ben’s coach Dan Hurley booted him off the team last February. Still, he says he and Hurley are now cool and text each other.
Thompson dropped 18 points and 8 rebounds on the U.S. — the eventual winner — in a quarterfinal loss at the World Championships.
He said it was great to see some of his former Jersey boys, including Kansas wing Tyshawn Taylor, named to the all-tournament team for the U.S., and Rutgers guard Mike Rosario and Fordham guard Jio Fontan, who played for Puerto Rico. All three of those guys played for Bob Hurley, Dan’s father, at St. Anthony in Jersey City.
“[Taylor] played awesome. I was rooting for him every game that we watched because I used to go to St. Benedict’s and that’s basically one of the brothers of the family,” Thompson said. “He played real well. Mike and Jio played real well. They really showed people that they have talent.”
Bob Hurley recently told me he would suggest that Rosario and possibly Taylor test the NBA draft waters after next season.
Could Thompson see that?
“I definitely could see that,” he said. “Mike and Tyshawn both showed NBA scouts and all the GMs that were there that they can play in the NBA and I think they have a chance to do it.”
And what about Thompson. How good can he be?
Ro Russell, Thompson’s AAU coach with Grassroots Canada, says the sky’s the limit for Thompson.
“He’s so versatile, he can face, he can slash, he can shoot it,” Russell said. “He has to work on his jump shot and his pull-up from mid-range. He’s improving himself. He’s shown that he can be the best player to come out of Canada ever. He has high expectations and he wants to be the best player to come out of Canada.”
Better even than two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash?
“It’s a far reach to be anything remotely close to what Steve Nash has done for Canada, but he’s not saying it’s impossible to get to that level,” Russell said. “He doesn’t just want to get to the NBA. He wants to be an NBA All-Star.”
Russell has a slew of top-notch players in his Grassroots Canada program and elsewhere who are close to making Division 1 commitments. Dwight Powell is a 6-9, 220-pound versatile forward at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academies, who Russell said has offers from Georgetown, UConn, Florida, Syracsue, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Villanova, Virginia, Virginia Tech and UCLA, and high interest from Kentucky. “He’s a 4.0 student so he likes the Ivy League-type schools like Harvard, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt and Stanford.”…Brady Heslip is a 6-2 PG for Grassroots Canada, which already produced guards Devoe Joseph, Junior Cadougan and Cory Joseph. Russell said Helsip has an offer from Boston College and interest from schools like Rice and Miami…As for Joseph, he and Thompson helped Findlay Prep win the ESPN RISE National High School Invitational championship last season. Russell said Joseph has offers from Ohio State, Florida, Memphis, Kansas, Arizona, UConn, Syracuse and Louisville, among others. As for our old friend Marvell Waithe, he is a 6-9, 216-pound wing at Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College who averaged nearly 20 and 10 last year. He put 39 points and 21 rebounds on South Georgia Tech one night last November. Russell said his top five were: UConn, Pitt, Arkansas, Florida State and South Florida….Finally, Russell said Texas-bound point guard Myck Kabongo and big man JP Kambola would remain at St. Benedict’s for this season.
Stay tuned for more on these guys and check out the August issue of Basketball Times for my stories on Thompson and Kyrie Irving of St. Pat’s.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.