Basketball: A little about Heslip, more about Grassroots Canada

There goes the last lingering thread of hope Burlington guard Brady Heslip would matriculate at Guelph, likely.
"Heslip served as a weapon of mass destruction down at Cincinnati, dropping 37 points during one pivotal matchup. Opponents tried executing a serious clamp down operation on Heslip, to no avail. They threw double and triple-teams at him. Heslip fended defenders off, reeling off a personal 17-0 spurt in one game.

" 'He was still on fire no matter what they threw at him,' (coach Ro) Russell recalls. 'He's really starting to blow up. He's like a Mark Price, Scott Skiles type player. He’s the last one to leave the gym, always. He'll shoot all day. The kid absolutely loves the game.'

"Heslip's sharpshooting antics have elicited drool from a plethora of high major programs. Boston College, Clemson, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Florida are all beginning to express interest in the 6-2 guard. Boston College has already presented a scholarship offer to Heslip, who’s entering his senior year."
SLAM Online
Grassroots Canada, as has so often been the case, continues to be one of the great underreported stories in Canada. They lost a white-knuckler in the round of 16 at the adidas Super 64 tournament in Las Vegas after's Gary Parrish gave them a glowing write-up. That is basketball, though. Russell notes he has four players ranked among the top 50 high school seniors in the U.S., including big man Tristan Thompson and combo guard Cory Joseph off the junior national team.

Of course, the kneejerk Canadian response would be that many of these players don't attend high school in their country, so why should we care about them? Parrish shows a sensitivity.
"That's the truly unique thing about Grassroots, how the best of the best leave Canada for better training in the United States during the school year but return each summer to play for their home program. They understand that basketball is more of an 'activity' than a serious sport in the Canadian school system, so they find new homes at places like IMG Academy and Findlay Prep (the Las Vegas school Joseph attends - Ed.). Still, they are loyal to the Grassroots program, and that loyalty has allowed them to develop as a cohesive group that understands how to win while similarly talented prospects from Los Angeles might play for the Southern California All-Stars one summer, then the Pump N Run Elite the next, then the Compton Magic the next."
This is very tangentially related to the Canadian university game, but it's welcome news. One would hope traditional media pay a little more attention to the world-beater ballers with a Canadian passport.

For instance, do you remember a Canadian sprinter from the 1980s named Marita Payne, who was part of Canada's two silver medal-winning women's relay teams at the Los Angeles Olympics? (That was the Soviet bloc-boycotted Olympiad were Canada won 44 medals, which you'll likely never see again.) Parrish noted Payne and her former NBA player spouse Mitchell Wiggins' 13-year-old son, Andrew Wiggins, is already 6-5 and plays for Grassroots Canada's 16-and-under team. It's cool finding that out.

It is understood there is not much regard for world of summer basketball, which might be an expression of taste, givensome of the stuff you read about coaches who attend these tournaments being charged $300 for programs with incomplete information.
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  1. Ro is what he is. He has his best interest in mind, not the kids. Of the players he has directed to the states, what percentage return with a degree? How many end up bouncing around teams like nomads?

  2. I'm a former of Ro Russell's. My experience with him shows me that he truly has the kid's interest in mind. You have to remember that Ro is dealing with these kids when they are in high school and trying to help them get a free education in the U.S. Now he deals with over 50 kids in any given year and that includes boys and girls. When these kids reach the age and enter various universities in the United States, Ro Russell does not have that much influence on them any more, Ro cannot hold their hands and make sure they do the right things like go to class, stay out of trouble, get a required grade point average in order to keep the scholarship, etc. The blame for bouncing around teams has to fall a little on the parents and kids when that happens. In my situation, Ro helped me gain a Division 1 scholarship and I received my bachelor's degree. After that, I wanted to pursue my Master's degree, Ro also used his contacts to help me gain another scholarship where I would be able to attend Graduate school at a prestigious school for free. I now have two degrees because of Ro. But I went to class everyday, I was on time for class and practice, I didn't cause any trouble for my coaches or teachers, my parents stayed on me about doing the right things and being LOW MAINTAINANCE. So thanks to Ro for essentially giving me almost a quarter of a millions dollars in free education and a chance to travel all over the country and develop relationships that will last a lifetime. If Ro had his interests in mind, he would have got of the AAU business a long time ago like a lot of AAU coaches, he would have packaged a couple of his players to a university with the promise of him becoming an assistant coach at that particular where he would be earning a six figure salary. If you need proof of this, google Dalonte Hill, Micheal Beasley and salary and you will see what I'm talking about. Dalonte Hill was Micheal Beasley's AAU coach, long story short, Dalonte Hill became a assistant coach at Kansas State University-the school where Beasley would eventually play at. Hill is now the highest paid assistant coach in the country earning an annual salary of $450,000.