Burlington basketball phenom could be Canada's next NBA star
Simi Shittu is 14-yers-old, stands 6 ft. 8 in. and weighs 200 pounds
From August 17-20, in Toronto, the NBA is hosting 60 of the best young basketball players in the Americas. They have come to Canada from as far as Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Puerto Rico but the best among them might be a Grade 9 student from Burlington.
Simi Shittu is 14-years-old, stands six feet eight inches tall and weighs 200 pounds. And he's still growing.
The Corpus Christi Catholic Secondary School student in Burlington was selected as one of Canada's top players under the age of 17. He's one of the youngest from any country at the camp. So far. So good.
"It's very great experience, playing with people from different parts of the world interacting with them," Shittu told the CBC.
Shittu is among a growing number of high talent Canadian prospects who have a chance to be successful NBA players. The last two NBA drafts began with Canadian players selected number one. In 2013, Toronto's Anthony Bennett was drafted first by the Cleveland Cavaliers. This summer Cleveland selected another Toronto-born player, Andrew Wiggins with the number one pick.
On Friday, Toronto's Sim Bhullar signed a contract to join the Sacramento Kings in training camp, becoming the first player of Indian descent to ink a deal with an NBA team.
Could Shittu be the third Canadian picked first overall in the NBA? We'll have to wait until 2017 to find out. That's when he is eligible for the NBA draft. Meanwhile, pro scouts are watching. The Toronto Raptors discovered first round pick Bruno Caboclo, a Brazilian, at a camp much like this one.
Canada's national team head coach Jay Triano says the next generation of Canadian basketball players looks very good. Triano said "it's not just a one time thing we've had success in our country. It's gonna continue to grow. We've got great grassroots programs for our players."
CBC's Steven D'Souza reports that about 15 to 20 NBA teams have scouts at the tournament. See his video report on this page. Shittu says "I'm just working on showing them how I can dominate on both ends of the floor."