Comparing any young Canadian player to Andrew Wiggins is inherently unfair, yet some of Canada’s best young players are being recruited by Syracuse, Georgetown and Boston College, among other major programs.
That group includes 6-5 2016 guard Jamal Murray, 6-4 2015 guard Jaylen Poyser and 6-8 2015 center Kyle Alexander — all of whom play with the new Canadian prep program Athlete Institute, which we profiled here last month.
Syracuse, Georgetown and Boston College “have probably been in the most,” Larry Blunt, the team’s head coach, told SNY.tv by phone Friday.
Murray and Poyser both visited Syracuse for Midnight Madness.
The Syracuse connection makes sense since current Orange point guard Tyler Ennis played alongside Wiggins for the same AAU program, CIA Bounce, for which Murray and Poyser play. Syracuse assistant Adrian Autry “has done a lot with [Murray],” Blunt said.
Murray (pictured) may have the biggest upside of the players in the group.
“He’s still really young,” CIA Bounce coach Tony McIntyre said. “We said it last year before the Jordan game, the kid is special and he went in there and did what we thought he would and on a pretty big stage in terms of no one knowing who he was and walking in there and stealing the show.
“His body’s getting bigger. I think he’s going to end up being a 6-5, 6-6 point guard when it’s all said and done. He’s 2016 and he’s already 6-4 and a bit. He shoots the ball extremely well and he’s versatile. He can play the 1,2 and 3.”
Poyser has shown flashes of being a high-major but must work on his consistency, while Alexander remains under the radar at the moment.
“He’s a kid that not many people know much about,” Blunt said. “He’s about 6-8, 6-9, really long. His sister [Kayla Alexander] played at Syracuse, plays in the WNBA now. He hasn’t played AAU on the circuit yet so no one knows anything about him.
“High-level shot-blocker, can really, really run.”
Athlete Institute will come to New Jersey next weekend to play St. Benedict’s high school and prep teams and then the Robinson School in a three-day span. Later this season, they will play 2015 forward Cheick Diallo and Our Savior New American as well as Indiana commit Rob Johnson and Benedictine (Va.) College Prep.
Blunt hopes that by playing a national (or really, international) schedule against top American programs, that it will help the kids get better and get recruited.
“With these guys, lot of them haven’t played on the big stage, haven’t starred on the big stage,” Blunt said. “A couple of them have been role players. With our team now I think a lot of them will get a chance to showcase what they’re really capable of, so we feel very, very confident that as the season progresses and they get accustomed to playing on the big stage, that their offers and interest will really, really start to pick up.”
Could any of them be the next Andrew Wiggins?
“I mean, Andrew’s done a lot to build a résumé for himself,” Blunt said. “It’s still early to say that. As their coach, I would be reluctant to put that stamp on anyone because a lot of times when you do that, for those kids it’s unfair. I think a lot of kids have the potential to be really special and to be the next one that a lot of people talk about from this region.”
**For previous articles on Andrew Wiggins, click here.