Ridley players eye FIBA Americas tourney
Basketball fans who can’t wait to watch next June’s FIBA Under-18 Americas Basketball Championship in St. Catharines may want to whet their appetite by checking out Ridley College’s prep team that opened its home schedule Tuesday night versus TRC Academy.
Five players on the Ridley roster attended the national team training camp for the St. Catharines event including: Stratford’s Malcolm Bailey, a Grade 12 student in his second year at Ridley who has received multiple NCAA Division 1 scholarship offers; Brampton’s Noah Wharton, a member of Ontario’s Canada Games championship team this past summer, who is in his second year at Ridley and the Grade 12 student has interest from NCAA Division 1 Ivy League schools; Mississauga’s Anthony Daudu, a member of Ontario’s Canada Games championship team this past summer, who is in his second year at Ridley and the Grade 12 student has interest from NCAA Division 1 Ivy League schools; Brampton’s Charles Bediako, a Grade 10 student who was the starting centre on Canada’s under-16 team that won silver at the FIBA Americas this summer and qualified for the under-17 worlds in 2018; and, Brampton’s Jaden Bediako, a member of Ontario’s Canada Games championship team this past summer, who is in his second year at Ridley and the Grade 12 student has garnered multiple NCAA Division 1 scholarship offers.
“I am really confident I am going to make that team,” Jaden Bediako said. “I’ve been on the national team since 2015 and I have been playing up (an age class) too.”
The 6-foot-10 centre believes he is ready for an increased role.
“I feel I have the most experience and I have played with the top players,” the 17-year-old said. “Canada just won gold and we are going to try and keep that streak going.”
Ridley head coach Tarry Upshaw expects several of his players to crack the Canadian roster.
“They have all been invited back to the next camp,” he said. “I think four can make it and Charles will be on the cadet team.”
While he contemplates a role with Team Canada, Bediako is also deciding which university he will attend next fall.
Although he hasn’t made any official visits yet, he has scholarship offers from USC, Oklahoma, San Diego State and Middle Tennessee State.
“It’s going to be (based on) having a good relationship with the coach and knowing how they are going to use me,” Bediako said. “ And all the schools that I have offers from have been to March Madness.”
Bediako and his Ridley teammates fell to 1-1 in Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association play Tuesday following an 84-76 loss to the TRC Academy Wolfpack. Bediako finished with 10 points and a pile of rebounds and blocked shots while Wharton led the way with 25 points before leaving the game early with leg cramps.
Upshaw is confident his team can improve on last season’s 10-12 record.
“I think the guys are a little older and last year it took us half the year to realize the speed and commitment to play in this league,” he said.”It’s one of the top leagues in the world for a high school group.”
With several of his players getting international and national experience this past summer, the team has come back with a different mindset.
“This year it’s let’s try to win and a lot of guys have worked on individual skills,” Upshaw said. “And from the first day of practice, guys understand our system and the way we want to play.
“I think we expect to be in every game this year and win more than last year.”
Bediako is confident things will be a lot different than last season.
“It was our first year in the league and our first year playing the top guys in Ontario and across Canada and we tried to gell,” he said. “This year, we want to win and we know we can be one of the top teams.
“We lost two guys but we brought in my brother and another shooter so we should be good.”
Niagara natives on the team are: Alex Root, a Grade 11 student from Welland in his first year at Ridley; Cam Bett, a Grade 12 student from St. Catharines in his second year at Ridley; and, Jaden Kidd, a Grade 11 student from St. Catharines in his fifth year at Ridley.
Upcoming 7 p.m. homes games for Ridley include Nov. 15 vs. Thornlea Prep; Nov. 17 vs. Southwest Academy; Nov. 22 vs. Athlete Institute; and Nov. 29 vs. Orangeville Prep.