Canada boasting plenty of young talent
Myck Kabongo knows it never would have happened like this if he and his Canadian counterparts hadn’t come south.
Myck Kabongo got a late start but has developed into one of the nation's top point guard talents.Jim Hawkins
"The best players are here in America,” said Kabongo, who was born in Zaire and has lived in Canada since he was six years old. "I knew if I wanted to be good, I had to come here."
Kabongo came and has become plenty good. He’s not the only one out of Canada, either.
There’s Kris Joseph, whose on the verge of stardom now that Wesley Johnson has left Syracuse. There’s the Texas freshman duo of Tristan Thompson and Corey Joseph.
A year from now, Kabongo will join Thompson and Joseph in Austin.
There are more on the horizon — including 6-foot-9 rising junior Khem Birch, a consensus Top 10 player in his class who is only in his fifth season of playing the game.
Kabongo and Birch played together on the Canadian U18 Junior National team, which captured bronze in San Antonio last week.
Kabongo is regarded as either the top or the No. 2 point guard in the Class of 2011 (along with Marquis Teague) despite, like Birch, picking up the game on the late end.
Kabongo grew up a soccer player and said the first time he took to the court, against some kid named Maleed, he lost 11-0.
"It was the first time I ever played the game,” Kabongo recalled. "He beat me up, and I started working on my game every day.”
Birch has even less experience on the court and recently made the move from Winchendon School to Notre Dame Prep in an effort to qualify academically.
Birch was, at one time, a heavy lean to Providence, but now that assistant coach Pat Skerry left for Pittsburgh, he’s wide open and rattled off a list that included Kentucky, Ohio State, West Virginia, Iowa, Arizona, Texas, Kansas and Providence.
- Shabazz Muhammad, Cody Zeller and Kaleb Tarczewski were the big standouts on Day One in Indianapolis. Muhammad scores at will and is the top wing prospect in the nation. Zeller continues to mix his skill and finesse game with his ability to play inside. And Tarczewski’s light is coming on. He's a 7-footer that can block shots, run and score inside.
- Louisville is emerging as one of the main schools for Quincy Miller, the No. 2 player in the Class of 2011. Rick Pitino’s most recent hire — Tim Fuller — has put them right in the thick of things with arguably one of the most talented kids in the nation. To go with Louisville, Baylor and Duke had head coaches at a few of his games on the opening day. Kentucky is also in the mix as well.
- With coaches not allowed at the LeBron James Skills Academy until Thursday, Indianapolis was the place to be on Tuesday. Among the head coaches we saw were Roy Williams, Rick Pitino, Tom Crean, Thad Matta, Sean Miller, Oliver Purnell, Ben Howland, Mike Krzyzewski, Jeff Capel, Chris Lowery, John Groce, Matt Painter, Herb Sendek, Scott Drew, Mark Turgeon, Bill Self and many others.
- Marshall Plumlee, the brother of Mason and Miles, is going to make his college choice soon. The 7-footer, who is ranked in Scout.com’s Top 50, is down to Duke, Virginia and UNC. Carolina hasn't offered yet. The word on the street is Plumlee is looking strongly at Duke, where both of his brothers play. Plumlee said on Tuesday that he could decide as soon as Wednesday or as late as a month from now.
- Former Duke point guard and Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus is among those working the LeBron James Skills Academy. Ed Pinckney and Miles Simons are others who are instructors.
- There may not be an entire future lottery pick in the 23-man college group that is in Akron. One of the reasons is that not a single incoming freshman is in attendance.