For those of you who aren’t hockey fans, let me run this situation by you before going ahead with the news of the day. Back maybe 20 or 30 years ago, if hockey players wanted the chance to go to the NHL the obvious solution was to go to one of the Major Junior leagues in Canada. The best prospects always went that way and it was rare for the best talents to choose the NCAA over Junior leagues.
Eventually, that started to change and it became much more common for players to choose the NCAA. Paul Kariya, who attended Maine, was one of the biggest pioneers in bringing legitimacy to the NCAA teams as viable for future NHLers. Nowadays, because of that change, people don’t bat an eye when NHL teams choose NCAA prospects in the first round.
Why am I writing about this on a college basketball website? Because as per MLive.com, Brett Stockton, the highest scoring prep school player in the nation last season, will be attending Carelton University to play his collegiate career. Carleton is located in Ottawa and has long since been a basketball powerhouse. This decision is something like the reversal of the NHL situation described above. Stockton is an elite scorer, he averaged 34.1 points per game as a senior.
Why Canada? Stockton played at a very small school, it only had 68 students, and that largely deterred a lot big time programs from going to scout him. According to Stockton, he had some offers from division one schools but they were not high profile teams. If playing for a lesser known division one school didn’t seem appealing for Stockton, having a chance to play for a team that has won nine of the last 11 CIS championships certainly did.
“I thought it would be pretty cool to play for a team that wins the national championship every year,” Stockton said. “It would be nice to get some rings.”
People largely dismiss the Canadian universities when it comes to sports like basketball but Carleton has always been an elite program. They could beat a lot of division one basketball teams and are always well coached and well prepared. At Carleton, the 6”1 Stockton will get a chance to gain some great basketball experience and might also have the opportunity to raise his exposure to professional scouts.
Steve Hollocker, his coach in high school believes that Stockton had the NCAA talent and that he was unfairly disregarded by a lot of programs.
“I always believed him to be a Division I-type player, so I think his skills will translate well there,” Hollocker said. “Anywhere he’s lacking, he’ll get in the gym and work until he’s up to par with the other players. He’s had this dream, and now he has an opportunity to make it happen.”
This move to Canada may not lead to Stockton eventually making the NBA, nothing is guaranteed. That being said, for the CIS and its schools, having a player of Stockton’s caliber choosing to come over and play in Canada over spending time at a NCAA school is a welcome change. This might be a watershed moment for the Canadian schools, you never know, 20 years down the road, the CIS might become a legitimate basketball league to develop good NBA talent.