Cole Long impressed just about everyone at the recent North Pole Hoops (NPH) East Coast Showcase for high school basketball prospects in Halifax.
The NPH is a scouting service that attracted about 60 Grade 10-to-12 student-athletes, including the St. John’s native, from across the country for a three-day camp.
The six-foot-six small forward, who is completing Grade 11 at Booth Memorial High School, made the most of the experience.
Long, who scored 11 points in the Top Prospects game, was named the NPH Showcase MVP.
“I was really surprised,” said Long. “I figured someone from Nova Scotia would win the MVP because they would be more familiar to those running the camp.”
While the program was a new experience, Long said he was familiar with a lot of the players in camp having played against them at various club and national tournaments.
The three-day event included team and individual skills, and game situational play over the first two days. On the final day, the top 20 were picked for the prospects game.
Long said learning how to work out on your own was a valuable lesson for him.
“I learned how to make the most of it when you’re in the gym by yourself,” he said.
Long had an outstanding season at Booth, where was named MVP in the recent provincial Grade 11 championship tournament. He also sank 30 points in a semifinal loss to the Gonzaga Vikings in the provincial 4As (Tier 1) championship.
His overall performance has not gone unnoticed by Memorial Sea-Hawks varsity coach Peter Benoite.
“Oh yes, there’s no question he’s on our radar,” said Benoite of Long.
Long played for the Junior Sea-Hawks in the St. John’s Division I men’s league this past winter and despite his age, Benoit said, Long didn’t look out of place.
“He was playing against seasoned Division I players, former Varsity players and he didn't back down," Benoit said. “He's got that little edge to him.
“I think he proved that he can play. He was playing solid defence, blocking shots, and he averaged 16 points a game.”
Benoite readily acknowledges he’s a big fan of Long’s, noting he’s got the ability to step back and shoot a three-pointer, but also has the size and footwork to battle inside the key.
“He still has a high school body, but nothing that hitting the weight room won’t fix,” said the Sea-Hawks’ coach.
For his part, Long said he hasn’t decided where he will attend university after he graduates next year, but noted his decision will depend on what courses he chooses to take.
“I want to play varsity ball, but I’m not sure what I want to do in terms of academics, so I’m not sure where I’m going to go.”
He made it clear academics is his priority.