Xavier Rathan-Mayes is one of four Canadians one the Huntington Prep basketball team. (Getty)Many basketball fans around North America have seen the YouTube videos, read the stories or in some way been exposed to the hype surrounding Canadian basketball star Andrew Wiggins. The 17-year-old hoops phenom hasn't even committed to an NCAA program for next season yet he’s already being pinned as the top prospect heading into the 2014 NBA draft and the one who’ll likely be selected first overall.
But there’s more to the future of Canadian basketball than Wiggins and there’s more to Wiggins than what he’s able to do on the court and that’s what Drew Ebanks and Jay Irving wanted to show in their new documentary ‘Huntington Hopefuls’ which was released online Wednesday morning.
“We wanted to give people insight into the type of person Andrew is, he’s not the type of person who’s looking for the limelight,” Ebanks the co-creator of On Point basketball said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“He’s a kid who is very humble and you don’t just see that in kinds especially one’s who are highly touted like he is… I wanted to let people see the kind of pedigree he has, the kind of talent he has but also how great of a teammate and how great of a person he is. He’s got media requests coming at him, he’s got fans, they sign autographs after games and he really loves the kids so the kids have a connection to him and as you see in the documentary sometimes there’s an hour-long wait just to meet Andrew.”
As a former player himself – he played CIS basketball at York – Ebanks has been around the sport for a long time, and when he finished playing competitively he noticed there was a void that needed to be filled when it came to promoting local talent. He began working for Global News doing features on up-and-coming players around Toronto and recently decided to go out independently with Irving and from there ‘On Point with Drew Ebanks’ was born. Thus far he and Irving have put together six webisodes that have centred around Canadian basketball stories including Roy Rana and the Ryerson Rams, San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph and prolific dunker Justin “JUS FLY” Darlington.
In the newest webisode Ebanks and Irving follow the Huntington Prep men’s basketball team, specifically the team’s four Canadian players Wiggins, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Montaque Gill-Ceasar and Nevell Provo through a string of three games. And while a large part of the documentary hones in on Wiggins, Ebanks says it was important to make it about all four Canadians on Huntington Prep rather than something that focused solely on one player.
“Andrew [Wiggins] is going to be the one who is going to shed a lot more limelight on our talent [in Canada] but there are so many great players, he’s not the only one,” Ebanks said. “We definitely wanted to give love to all the Canadians on Huntington Prep because for me I support all the kids no matter if they’re going to be in the NBA or they’re just trying to get to the CIS level or the OCAA. If you’re Canadian and you’re striving I want to know about it.”
And as Ebanks said there’s plenty of other Canadian talent worth taking note of. Tristan Thompson, Robert Sacre and Andrew Nicholson are Canadian-born players who are in their first or second NBA season, while at the NCAA level Nik Stauskas, Kevin Pangos, Anthony Bennett and Kelly Olynyk are contributing to well-renowned programs.
Wiggins may be the centerpiece for the future when it comes to Canadian basketball, but if the aforementioned names and ‘Huntington Hopefuls’ prove anything it’s that he won’t be alone.