A lot of talented basketball players have come out of Canada including the likes of current and former NBA stars Andrew Wiggins, Steve Nash, Rick Fox, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Ennis and Jamal Murray.
Another pure athlete from the northern half of North America is Toronto, Ontario native Taysean Nolan.
The 2017 point guard helped Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School capture the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) title last March. The win marked the first title for Henry Carr after falling short of a championship bid the three years prior.
The 6’1″, 184-pounder first started playing basketball in 9th grade for the Mississauga Monarchs, in Mississauga.
“I did not play at my local high school at the time, North Albion Collegiate Institute because of a strike the school board was having and public high schools in the TDSB (Toronto District School Board) were not participating in sports that year,” Nolan told Prep Sports Scouting.
He called the experience with the Monarchs “very exciting.”
“Being a newcomer to the game of basketball, it was obvious that my basketball skills and knowledge weren’t as developed as the other players,” Nolan said. “Due to this, I didn’t earn much player time but that motivated me to put in hours of hard work in any gym I could available weekly. When there weren’t any gyms open I would workout and do ball handling drills in my basement at home.”
Nolan says by the following season it was clear to him that his skills had improved and the coaches took notice.
“This opened up opportunities for me to play on better teams. But in result to my lack of playing time I didn’t develop my mental game and I was always a step behind most players in terms of basketball IQ at a young age,” he admitted. “Because of my skill I had always had coaches quickly find interest in my game but after a few practices it was clear that my five-on-five decision-making skills weren’t at the level of my talent.”
Nolan added that his experience playing for the No. 1 ranked provincial high school team in the country, Henry Carr, helped further his game not just physically but mentally as well.
He noted that the summer before his junior year when he drew interest from Northern Arizona and Central Michigan made him realize that he could one day complete his dream of playing at the next level.
Following his one and only season at Henry Carr (2015-16), Nolan made it down to Davie, Florida along with his AAU coach for the UPlay Mississauga Monarchs, Jason Fowler.
“Coach Fowler was my AAU coach for Uplay in the summer of 2016,” Nolan said. “After my first practice, he told me I was a clear Division-I player and has spoken to several Division 1 NCAA coaches recruiting me since that summer.”
Last summer, Nolan attended the Canadian Signature Camp. He quickly made the decision along with Fowler to play prep ball in Florida.
“I packed my stuff and took a connecting flight over to the Fort Lauderdale Airport in November 2016,” he recalled.
Nolan called his experience playing prep ball much different than Canadian basketball.
“The training was much more difficult and the expectations skyrocketed both on and off the court. It required a high level of discipline, leadership, mental toughness and maturity,” he said. “Even though I may have been the most athletic player on the team, my greatest challenge was the lack of experience I had in comparison to the other players.
“Over the first couple of weeks, the coaches focused on polishing my game, developing my jump shot and having me train in the weight room to build upper body strength. Over just a few weeks, and combined with all the in-game experience, competing at tournaments such as the Tarkanian Classic, I developed as a point guard, sharpened up on my basketball IQ and understanding of how the game should be played.”
He says this helped him become a more “composed, mature, stronger and college ready basketball point guard.”
Nolan has drawn interest from a good amount of Division-I programs including Northern Arizona, UCSB, FAU, North Texas, UAB, Alabama A&M, Denver, Brown, Yale, Texas Rio Grande Valley, Liberty, Central Michigan and Idaho State.
Northern Arizona made the trip up to Toronto for an in-home visit with Nolan in October. Florida Atlantic, UCSB and Alabama A&M are three other schools that Nolan says have been in contact with him quite a bit.
Differences between Canada and the United States
Nolan is a very smart kid who is personable on and off the court. He has strong principles and thrives as a leader and core teammate. This is what he had to say about the main distinction between Canada and the United States.
“As for people, I would say the biggest difference would be that Canada is a lot more diverse than America is,” he said. “The second language in America is Spanish and growing up in Canada having to learn French as our second language, this was another adjustment for me.”
Role models and obstacles
Nolan calls his biggest obstacle was to gain exposure as a basketball player at a younger age.
“In my early years, I was told time after time by coaches that I was not at the caliber of a player who would potentially receive a college scholarship,” he said. “In result, I wasn’t given the opportunity to play on a team that would help me get recruited.
“I used this as motivation. I was inspired by players who shared a similar story and my love for the game brought me to the weight room every morning and court every night. It was then I became more athletic and began to impress coaches. After my summer with Coach Jason A. Fowler, I received notice that Division-I schools were recruiting me and wanted to see me play.”
As for Nolan’s favorite basketball player to watch right now, that is Portland Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard. He says, Lillard became his favorite player after a coach told him how much his game reminded him of the NBA star.
“Not just my game but my story,” Nolan said. “We were both being overlooked, isolated and hard working players. We are both around the same size with similar qualities. On the court, we both are athletic guards who used our athleticism to make plays for ourselves and our teammates, had a tight handle and made timely shots. Off the court, we both are modest, focused, and determined to accomplish our goals no matter what obstacles stood in front of us.”
Goals for this off-season:
“As of right now, I would honestly say I would need to slow down my game, improve my basketball knowledge and my ability to pass the basketball.”
Playlist before games:
Future – Used To This (Ft. Drake), Drake – Views, Nipsey Hustle – The Weather, and Tory Lanez – Bal Harbour
It’s hard not to root for someone like Taysean Nolan. The kid loves the game basketball, works hard each and every day to complete his game and it is coming together. The interest is there and I fully expect an offer to come awfully soon.
Nolan plans to play at the next level this fall and with what he’s been able to do lately on the court, in games or training, coaches will take notice and want to bring him on. The talent and dedication are both there, now it is a matter of earning that opportunity.
Film: Nolan’s senior gametape
Photo credit: Arby’s Classic Dunk Contest
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper. Feel free to contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.