The only Canadian national high school all star game is upon us. The Can Ball takes a look at this year's event with the help of PHASE 1's Wayne Dawkins, the organizer for the event's rich ten year history ...
Who needs the McDonald’s All America Game or the Jordan Brand Classic! In the next few days, the Air Canada Centre will be the site of a truly great Canadian Basketball event: The All Canada Classic.
Now in its tenth year, the All Canada Classic has been THE only national high school basketball game that recognizes in Canada of its kind. Moving from its traditional location at Seneca College it has now taken up residence this summer at the home of the Raptors and with the boon of Canuck hardwood talent it’s only fitting that the nation’s marquee talent be placed in a marquee venue.
Those of you familiar with the event from the past summers may notice a change to the festivities. Wayne Dawkins of PHASE 1 Basketball, who organizes the event annually, would usually make the event a weekend affair complete with a skills competition as well as Rising Stars games taking place over a few days. This year, Dawkins had to separate the weekend with the venue change making the Rising Stars games an event themselves which happened several weeks ago. Now the focus will be squarely on the boys and girls games that will take place that night.
But with a truncated schedule does that doesn’t mean that it will be any less exciting this time around? I don’t think so people.
This year’s game will feature some of the best high school ballers, both boys and girls, from across the country. Some of the names should be familiar to you, such as Myck Kabongo, Duane Notice, Natalie Achonwa, Kevin Pangos and the Plouffe sisters to name a few, and others may not be, like Julian Clarke, Shanice McKoy, Wumi Agunbiade, Emerson Murray or Grandy Glaze, but rest assured they are all going to make this a very exciting and fun game to watch.
"We want to establish a great Canadian amateur basketball event," says Dawkins of the Classic. "We want to have this in people’s minds and continue to build on it. We can’t rely on America to celebrate our kids. It’s our responsibility to make it worthwhile for our athletes to stay home and show that there is something for them here if they stay."
And in the ten years that the event has been in around, some of Canada’ best ball players have been through the lineup before going onto bigger and brighter places. Just think of it: Denham Brown, National Team point guard Jermaine Anderson, Junior Cadougan, Olu Ashaolu and the dynamic duo of Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph (who will not be able to play this year due to NCAA regulations limiting only two high school all star games for incoming freshmen).
And this year will have a decidedly Canadian twist, in that it will be multi ethnic this time around. With backgrounds not rooted in Canadian soil, the diversity of the country’s population is well represented.
"This game reflects (truly) Canada," comments Dawkins. "That to me, when I look at the game (and see that) it makes it more authentically Canadian. If we’re so caught up in the Stars and Stripes, we’re gonna miss what makes us special, what makes Canada special."
No doubt about that!
But despite all the great stuff surrounding the event this year, Dawkins has kept to his mantra he started out with: the event is about the athletes.
"I didn’t really envision how big it could get but I really focused on what if could be for the athletes, how do we make it special for them," he states. "We focus on the athletes first and then hopefully that will translate into something the public will appreciate and want to support."
We expect that this summer’s version of the All Canada Classic will have plenty of willing supporters by the end of the game.
The All Canada Classic will tip off at the ACC on June 14 with the girls game starting at 5pm and the boys at 7pm. Doors open at 4pm and the tickets are available at the ACC box office. For more info check out the website here.