Orangeville Prep Gets Past Athlete Institute; Jamal Murray, Thon Maker Have Their Numbers Retired
Written by Jas Grewal for On Point Basketball
Despite a perpetual winter storm blanketing much of Orangeville, Ontario’s rustic countryside, there was no shortage of energy indoors as Orangeville Prep took down a relentless Athlete Institute (AI) team 95-92 in OSBA action on Tuesday December 6th. The win keeps the squad undefeated at 6-0 while AI drops to 7-1 on the season.
The dynamic guard tandem of Junior Farquhar and Keshaun Saunders were key in Orangeville’s win over AI. Both guards were masterful in their dribble penetration, ultimately creating opportunities for others, including 6’7” wing Ignas Brazdeikis– who finished the night with a game-high 27 points, to go along with three triples in the win. Brazdeikis was the obvious choice for On Point Performer of the Game.
“Iggy,” as he is most commonly referred to as, understood what needed to be done heading into the matchup.
“Our team is a really big unit and ever since day one the chemistry’s just clicked somehow,” said Brazdeikis following his team’s win. “It was just a great game and we played together the entire game and that’s what our focus was on [heading in]. I focused on staying aggressive and didn’t worry about the things I did wrong, just always keeping forward, forgetting about the last play and just play each possession like it’s our last,” Brazdeikis said.
“We knew that these guys [AI] loved pushing the ball but our coach runs us a lot at practice so we were ready for that and being able to push the ball for us is huge, too, because we don’t let the defences set up, so it’s a huge advantage for us,” added Brazdeikis.
Also contributing to the well balanced scoring attack put on by Orangeville Prep was Markham, Ontario’s Aaryn Rai. Rai poured in 17 points as well as a contributing a string of deflections and steals that led to a series of second chance opportunities for the Bears.
“I just tried to look for my [shots] through the offence, coach Nate has a really well thought up offence that plays to our strengths, so I feel like as long as we trust the offence – no matter how good their defence is – they’ll get us open looks and it’s just on us to hit them,” said Rai following the win.
“In the first half we just didn’t come out with that same type of fire that we usually do, we let them out-tough us, out-bully us and that’s not Orangeville Prep basketball,” said the Dartmouth College commit.
“Coach Nate really got in us at half-time [because] that’s not who we were, we just had to man up and take it upon us individually, just to win your own matchup, battle it out,” mentioned Rai. “It doesn’t take skill to work hard.”
Keshaun Saunders (14 points) was another shining light for Orangeville Prep as the fast-rising guard impressed by not only scoring but also showing his ability to facilitate on the offensive end for his team. Saunders has patiently waited his turn and is ready for “Prime Time”.
Buffalo, New York native Howard Washington led the scoring charge for Athlete Institute in the loss with 18 points, while Jahvon “Juggy” Blair finished the night with 16 points of his own.
Both clubs will make an appearance this weekend in Portsmouth, Ohio for the Buckeye Elite National Showcase from December 10-12, as part of the high-school prep circuit in the United States.
Jamal Murray & Thon Maker Jersey Retirement
The event also marked a special day for two current NBA rookies – Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets) and Thon Maker (Milwaukee Bucks) – as their numbers now lay perched on the rafters at Athlete Institute following their jersey retirement ceremony, which commemorated their time as members of the Orangeville Prep and Athlete Institute squads.
Prior to being drafted into the NBA this past year, both Murray and Maker set a precedent for Canadians longing to trek down south as a means to fully maximize their abilities and, as a result, increase their chances of getting noticed by college coaches and scouts.
Before the inception of Athlete Institute and other preparatory schools in Canada, many Canadians sought out the opportunity of playing their high-school basketball in the United States – following suit with a long list of guys, such as Corey Joseph and Andrew Wiggins, who have chosen the United States path to pursue their basketball dreams.
However, with the talent pool broadening and the increasing amount of schools catering to their respective basketball programs, it seems as though staying put on Canadian soil may be a little more sensible.
The decision of opting to stay in Southern Ontario has unequivocally benefited both Murray and Maker in terms of their individual basketball goals – one shattered records at the University of Kentucky while the other prolonged the lineage of high school players being drafted into the NBA, despite a fixed rule against it.
Both have undoubtedly profited from their decision – figuratively and literally – but so have others. With prep schools like Orangeville, Vaughan, Athlete Institute and Tech Prep blossoming in Ontario – among others – there’s no surprise that the younger, more impressionable generation have seemed more reluctant to migrate down south in order to broaden their basketball horizon. All credit should go to guys like Murray and Maker for their ‘unconventional’ path to the league.
“They’re so huge for this whole entire program,” Brazdeikis said following the game. “I’ve been looking up to them since day one and just looking at what they did just proves to me and proves to everyone else that we can make it out of Canada as well.”
“I wasn’t here when Jamal was here but I was here for Thon’s last year,” Rai said when asked about the impact that the two former Orangeville Prep & Athlete Institute standouts had on guys like him. “Just the legacy and the tradition they set for Orangeville Prep about high level basketball, high level character and just a great organization that they really helped put out there,” said Rai.
The legacy that both Murray and Maker left at Orangeville Prep & Athlete Institute speaks volumes to the kind of basketball players they are and, more importantly, their character as a whole.
“I’m not really close with them but I watch a lot of their highlights and I respect them as players and as people,” mentioned O’Shea Brissett who recently committed to Syracuse University. “I’ve worked out with them and trained with them, so just knowing that they came through here it’s good to know that I can do the same thing.”
Though they came out of Orangeville Prep & Athlete Institute, there’s no doubt Murray and Maker’s legacy echoes all across Canada and into the sights of many aspiring basketball players. The game of hoops is at an all time high in Canada, and establishing a preparatory foundation in the North is the next step in the long-term process.
Ignas Brazdeikis 27pts
Miguel Tomley 17pts
Junior Farquhar 16pts
Keshaun Saunders 14pts
Aaryn Rai 13pts
Howard Washington 18pts.
Jahvon Blair 16pts
Oshae Brissett 15pts
Jordan Lyons 14pts
Written by Jas Grewal
Photos courtesy of Arthur of A1 Visuals and Drew Ebanks
Edited by Drew Ebanks