Mono, Ontario, has a population of just over 8,600. But, in this township an hour's drive north of Toronto, an NBA pipeline is thriving.
According to their introductory video (which we have posted below), the academy was started because coaches in Canada were tired of seeing their homegrown talent bolt for the United States. In 2013 Murray, a budding star from Kitchener, Ontario, took a chance by staying in his home country.
Per Aaron Rose of All Raptors, when Maker joined Murray at Oragangville Prep, "scouts starting showing up in droves." Murray says, "It's good to be a pioneer."... "I'm gonna keep doing what I can for Canada and for Orangeville, for Kitchener."
"It's cool to see all these kids look up to me as someone they want to be like because I looked up to a lot of guys and now I'm having the chance to go and play against them."... "So I'm just going to keep trying to be a role model for those young kids and go back there and see them when I can."
Dort was an unsigned free agent out of Arizona State who inked a two-way deal with Oklahoma City. After starting 21 games for the Thunder, he was rewarded with a four-year 5.4-million dollar full-time NBA contract.
Dort is now one of the building blocks for Oklahoma City's future and has impressed his fellow countryman in Murray.
"He's an example; he was underrated as well in Canada."..." Having that platform in Orangeville gave us a lot of young players, even now, growing up to be seen and be recognized in a different light than the media might put them out to be."
Outside of soccer, basketball is the most international sport in the world. The next crop of talent can come from anywhere, and as Dort and Murray prove, Canada isn't just for hockey anymore.
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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past eight seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.