Big battles at Tall Man Basketball Camp

Chilliwack hoops coach Kyle Graves believes big players develop better by facing big players.

While Stef Curry of the Golden State Warriors leads a small-man revolution at the pro level, high school basketball is still a big man’s world.

No player can change a team’s fortunes more than a towering forward who can shoot and defend, and there’s not that many of them around.

GW Graham’s Geevon Janday is one of those rare birds.

The Grade 11 forward stands six-foot-five. He can score inside, dominate on the glass and even drain the odd shot from three-point land.

Janday is the main reason the Grizzlies are ranked among B.C.’s top teams with a legit chance to win a championship at year’s end.

But Geevon and other big men have a problem.

Because they’re so rare, there’s rarely two on the same team at the same time, and how’s a guy supposed to develop his post moves when most of his foes in practices and games are significantly smaller?

“In a way it’s good (going up against smaller players) because I have to make moves to get around faster players, but when it gets down to the paint it’s kind of not as helpful,” Janday said.

That’s why formerSardis Falcons coach Kyle Graves helped start the Canada Basketball B.C. Tall Player Camp last year, and ran it for a second time this past October.

A former big man himself back in his Sardis playing days, Graves felt his game suffered because he couldn’t test himself against others his size.

“You can go a whole career and never play against someone who’s as tall as you, and that hurts your development,” Graves explained. “In high school I felt like I was an amazing player because I could score 30 points every game against five-foot-10 guys.

“But when I got to to my first year of university finally playing guys my own height, it was a steep learning curve.”

Graves believes he wasn’t taught a lot of low-post basics (footwork/body positioning, etc) until that first year at UFV.

“Which isn’t the right time to learn those types of things if you really want to become the best you can become.”

At the camp, Graves watched a Grade 8 student standing six-foot-three ‘get his butt kicked’ by a Grade 12 student standing six-foot-eight.

“Sometimes you need to get your butt kicked for development,” Graves said. “For a Grade 8 or 9 player to get taught these things early, it’s giving them more time to maybe develop into something special.”

Janday was one of 30 players at the camp.

The next tallest player on his GW Graham team is six-foot-two. At one point, all of the players at the camp lined up shortest-to-tallest and Janday was ninth shortest.

He was battling guys who were six-foot-10 and loving every minute of it.

“Being six-foot-five in Chilliwack, most of the time I’m a giant,” the teenager said. “Going there to play against the tallest of the tall, it was a lot different than going against guys who are a head shorter than I am.

“Even a couple inches is the difference between a guard and a post player — having an inch on someone is huge going up for layups or blocking shots, finishing a shot or not.”

Last year, Janday practiced daily against Jon Steele, a six-foot-seven center who now patrols the court at Thompson Rivers University.

“Jake (GWG head coach Mouritzen) first invited me out to practice with the senior team when I was in Grade 8, and it was a back and forth battle the entire time going against Jon,” Janday said. “He definitely helped me with my physicality, and now whenever I go against bigger opponents I remember those battles and I can bring that back out.”

Graves had some heavy-hitter coaches at the camp, including former national teamer and current Canada Basketball coach Michael Meeks and former national team bench boss Ken Shields

He’s hopeful that his Tall Man camps can eventually produce players of that calibre. Perhaps Janday will be one.

“He did very well and the coaches said he didn’t look out of place,” Graves said. “He just has to continue expanding his game and competing against bigger guys in and out of Chilliwack.

“He needs to seek out ex-college guys, guys who are bigger and stronger than him, and not just be happy scoring against guys who are his age and size.

“He’s got shooting touch, he continues to grow physically and I think he’s got real potential to play post-secondary basketball.”

— Graves and his Chilliwack Basketball Club are running a holiday break shooting camp with former UFV allstar Manny Dulay Jan. 2-3 for boys and girls in Grades 6-9 and 10- 12.

The cost is $45.

Email coachkylegraves@gmail.com or

visit chilliwackbasketballclub.ca for more info.

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