Ridley guard commits to Western
The sky is the limit for Johnny Avgousti.
The 19-year-old Ridley College student has committed to play basketball at the University of Western Ontario and Ridley Prep Boys basketball coach Tarry Upshaw has little doubt Avgousti will thrive.
“It’s a jump up, for sure, but the two years Johnny was here he played against nine kids who are in the NBA right now,” Upshaw said. “I don’t think it’s going to be much of an adjustment for him.
“I think he’ll do very well. He’s going to have a legitimate chance to be USPORTS rookie of the year. He’s at that level.”
Avgousti, a 6-foot-5 guard, is thrilled to be a Mustang.
“In Canada, I’ve known for a while they’ve been the school I want to go to,” he said. “They really made me a priority. They are a good academic school and have the program I want with engineering.
“As far as staying in Canada, it was a pretty easy decision for me.”
Avgousti is confident he will fit in with the Mustangs.
“The biggest thing they told me is they don’t recruit positions, they just want to acquire as much talent as possible and figure out what to do with the talent after,” he said.
The Mustangs already feature a premier shooting guard in Omar Shiddo, but Avgousti still expects to see his share of floor time due to his versatility.
“They still want me to go in and make an immediate contribution,” he said. “The team has some seniors and they brought in a big recruiting class from last year. I think we’ll be able to make a run next year and for years to come. I think we’re going to have a good team that will compete for national championships.”
Avgousti is working out to prepare for the increased physical play at the next level.
“The physicality is going to be a big difference. From what I’ve heard, that’s the biggest thing to adjust to,” he said.
Avgousti admitted he had aspirations of playing at an Ivy League school — he mentioned Harvard and Princeton — but the COVID pandemic put a damper on that dream.
“I was a bit disappointed for sure but I’m focusing on things I can control. I’m ready to focus on Western and I’m happy to be going there,” he said.
Avgousti, who joined Ridley in Grade 11, made an immediate impact with the Tigers, leading the team in scoring averaging 15.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. He was also the top three-point shooting player in the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association.
He feels competing against top-notch prep schools was a key in his development.
“The OSBA is an amazing league and with Ridley I loved my time there,” he said. “In past years, we played a lot of competition in the States. I definitely got better playing in the OSBA and even in practice going up against different guys, especially in my Grade 11 year. That definitely helped me. It shows there are levels to it and other teams that were better than us, we were trying to get to their level.
“It was good to see where we were and where we wanted to get to.”
Avgousti grew up playing soccer, baseball and hockey in addition to basketball but by Grade 7 had displayed enough talent to be selected for the Canada Junior Basketball Academy, which is a feeder for the national program.
“I had to make choice between soccer and basketball which was tough because my soccer coach wanted me to stay and I think I could have done something there but basketball was always my true love.”
Avgousti also values his education as evidenced by his 4.0 GPA for the last four years.
“I’d love to play basketball as long as I want to. I have aspirations to play in Europe after university but one day the ball is going to stop bouncing so getting a good education and degree to fall back on is very important.”
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