The first-ever "Tri-City Top 40" camp for junior-aged players, put on by former GRCI star Imad Qahwash, wrapped up this past Sunday at RIM Park in Waterloo.
As evidenced by the name, the camp featured 40 of the top junior-aged players in the region. Having seen almost everyone in attendance at some point or another during this past season, it was a great opportunity for myself to see the (fairly significant) improvement that certain players have made since the completion of the high school season.
NorthPoleHoops.com (click link for article) was also in attendance, and came away impressed in particular with Jamal Murray (6'2" G/Grade 9/Grand River), Mike Blumel (6'5" F/Grade 10/St. Mary's) and Murtada Khamis (5'10" G/Grade 10/Grand River).
In seeing him (again) in person, Khamis has certainly improved on his game since seeing him at the WCSSAA semifinals, finals, and CWOSSA. He was always a dangerous offensive threat with his quickness and court vision, but it looks as though his outside shooting has improved as well. Grand River may very well have the most talented backcourt in WCSSAA next season with him and Chuder Teny in their lineup. The scary thing is that both of those players have at least 2 years of eligibility remaining.
Blumel was a dunking machine over the weekend; during the drills that I saw, he was quite fluid in his drop-step and dunk maneuver. That being said, Blumel's likely "next level" future will be as a wing-forward, and he displayed a skill-set that matches those requirements as well (shooting ability out to the three-point line, driving past defenders, etc.).
Tajinder (TJ) Lall (6'3" G/Grade 10/Galt CI) also got some heady praise over the weekend. Lall is known around these parts as a scoring machine, but his length and shot-blocking abilities were also on display over the weekend. With Lall set to move to a senior squad that returns several key components, including F Jack Simmons, big things could be on the horizon at the "castle" next year.
Austin Tlustos (5'10" G/Grade 10/Assumption) is a player that Qahwash told me "impressed him" during game action on Saturday. In terms of his ranking within the "top 40", Tlustos may have been one of the players that improved his positioning the most over the course of the weekend.
A couple of other notables included George Dumitru (5'9" G/Grade 9/St. David) who knocked home a game-winner on Friday evening in a wild end to the first day of competition, as well as Mitchell Marquis (5'9" G/Grade 10/St. James). Marquis impressed me in drills; his vision and fundamentals are solid for the PG spot. Keep in mind that he played "up" for the Lions' senior squad this past season.
Overall, Qahwash said he was "extremely pleased" with how things turned out at the camp and is already looking forward to a "second annual" event next season. Pretty much every player that I talked to had nothing but good things to say about their experience at the camp, so it looks as though Qahwash's experiment was a big-time success.