Raso’s Ridley recruits
Ridley College’s new director of basketball is excited about his first class of recruits.
Victor Raso, also serves as the Prep Boys head coach, has added five new players for the 2023 Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association season.
“We’ve done a good job with our recruiting class,” Raso said. “We’re bringing in kids who all will be at the school for either two or three years. They’re national team-level kids who we’re going to build a new foundation here with the kids who are returning from last year.”
Leading the class is St. Catharines native and former St. Francis student Quinten Ethier, who will be entering Grade 11 after being a starter on Canada’s U16 national team.
“He one of the best Grade 10 age group in the whole country,” Raso said. “He’s exactly what we want at this school. He’s a smart kid, great kid. He’s a fantastic basketball player and comes from a good family. He’s super solid. I’m really excited for him. He already has a Division 1 (scholarship) offer going into Grade 11.
“He has a chance to be one of the best players to ever come from this region.”
Ethier’s friendship with Caleb Roberts, a Grade 11 guard, helped Raso land the Chatham native.
“It just happened to work out when I got this job my first call was to Quinten and I was on the phone with his father and he said one of Quinton’s friends is interested in coming to the school,” Raso said. “Instantly, we made it happen. His family was inspired by the education at Ridley and what he’s going to get as a basketball player.”
Raso feels Roberts will be a huge addition to the Tigers.
“I coached against him in Grade 10 and was shocked he was still in high school,” Raso said. “One of the best athletes I have ever seen in high school.”
Raso is also eager to see Callum Smith, a 6-foot-7 centre from Ottawa, in Tiger orange and black.
“He was one of the last cuts for the national team at U16 so these kids are all young,” Raso said. “He’s super talented. Doesn’t have a ton of high level basketball experience, just started to take it serious.”
Julien LeClair, a 6-foot-4 wing player from Montreal, and Griffin Collinson, a 6-foot-4 Oakville product, round out the recruits.
“I may be adding one or two more but they will be very last minute, which I never hope to do again,” said Raso, who joined Ridley in late May.
Raso feels the additions will be key as he begins to put his stamp on the program.
“I think we’ll be really young but I’m not concerned about winning a championship this year as establishing a culture and making sure these guys are getting better next year and then in three years, we hope to be at the top,” Raso said.
Raso admitted recruiting at the high school level is a sharp contrast to recruiting for the Niagara River Lions, where he acts as head coach/general manager.
“It’s a massive change of pace for me because every River Lions season for me is win a championship and this is growth and development,” he said. “It’s been a challenge because I have to wrap my head around this level and that’s a difficult thing to do right away. After this year and playing against other teams and understanding who the other players are across the province and the country, really, that will help a lot. It’s been difficult in the sense of I don’t know what I don’t know.
“I’ve never had that. I’ve never had a year-after-year program. I’m fully time responsible for these players, not only their basketball development, but also their life development and making sure they’re doing well in school and having a chance to impact them and truly shape lives. That’s exciting. That’s why took it.”
Raso said he looks for more than just athletic talent when recruiting a player.
“The fun part is I’m not just bringing them here for basketball,” he said. “It’s what makes Ridley different from the teams we compete against. We are academically the best school in the league, the toughest to get into, the most rigorous schedule. I’m not recruiting the same as (others), where they are just going after the best basketball players.
“I have find the mix of great basketball players, great potential that can also fit the mold of Ridley because as much as they have invested in basketball, it’s never going to be strictly about basketball first. It’s a holistic view of the student.”
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