(WINDSOR, ON) – Introducing Kyle Fazekas Jr and Company. The Square recently dipped down into the junior ranks of local basketball community and came away with an impressive overview. Near as I can figure, I got invited to check out the bumper crop at the annual Riverside Boys Basketball Classic tournament, to check out a local prospect with great promise.
Fazekas is a member of the St Anne’s Saints, who were playing the Kennedy Clippers. Sadly both teams were reported to be of championship calibre, along with the Holy Names Kights and Brennan Cardinals. But they were aligned on the same side of the tournament bracket so that only one could emerge from the field.
“Although it’s early in the season we kinda knew that we’d be competing against each other to get into the final, and that it would be tough getting out of our bracket,” St Anne’s coach Barry Amlin said. “Especially the way they apply pressure on the ball.”
The Clippers eventually prevailed over the Saints 81-69 in a very hotly contested affair. With both sides exchanging threes from the outset, even under pressure the outcome was largely decide inside where Kennedy’s 6′ 3″ 145lb Mazin Tiea was squared off with Logan King, a 6′ 2″ 170lb 4/5 man for the Saints.
While Tiea’s 24 points was higher for Kennedy, and he dominated the boards and made good on a lot of second chance buckets, King was more effective from the 15′ to 20′ range.
Getting back to Fazekas , I was shocked to see how much he had grown physically and mentally, in terms of his basketball skills, since the time I used to tutor him when he played at Dougall Public school two years ago.
“Although our 2 guard, Marcus (Huggins) played out of his mind, scoring 16 points and assisting with the press breakers, but our team goes as Kyle goes,” said Amlin. “When he plays composed then we’re good, but he gets a little sporadic then we follow suit.”
The Saints are 1-0 as a WECSSA AAA contender in league play after a blow-out win over Tecumseh Vista.
Even though he is only 5′ 9″ and 139lbs, Fazekas stands head and shoulders above the tallest and strongest of his peers while on the court and also in his philosophy of the game and how it is preparing him for college play, or perhaps even the pro.
Although in this contest he admittedly made some foolish decisions with regard to falling for the sideline and baseline traps of the Clippers’ ever present full court press, he eventually found his way to the middle of the court and led his team back into close contention after being down 19 points to an equally talented team.
“Because he is so talented, and owns his mistakes, we let him get away with some of the trial and error of learning,” Amlin said. “But, when he regains his composure, which he usually does, we’re at our best.”
Fazekas managed to score a game high 26 points in the heart breaking loss to Kennedy.
“I appreciate the coach looking to me to lead the team and play my way through my mistakes, because that means they have faith in me,” he said.
Fazekas also has praise for another gifted Clippers player, 3/4 swing man Ardel Jackson, a member of Canada’s junior national team.
“Ardel is hard to play against because of his athleticism, but he also has skill,” said Fazekas. “We compete very hard against each other when we play on opposing teams. But, as members of STAG’s Elite basketball travel team, it only strengthens our bond as friends because we making each other better.”
When asked why he chose to attend St Anne although he grew up in the inner city public school system, Fazekas plainly said, “Because I was too distracted in my school work with all of my friendships in the city. Also my old trainer, Jamie Stewart, suggested St Anne because he could get me early access to gym since he teaches there.”
He also credits his experience of playing throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois with STAG’s Elite team, under the tutelage Kennedy’s assistant coach Brad Smalls, as a way to advance his skills.
“Extra time is important to me because I am smaller and so must push myself harder, so my skill level will help me compete against players who are larger in size and have better athleticism,”he said.
Pretty head stuff for a junior basketball prodigy.
Although Fazekas said that his emphasis is on what is best for his team, he was quick to point out that his travel ball experience is what is giving him insight into what is needed to succeed at the post secondary level, with an eye on the pros. Young hoops dreams maybe, but there is no doubt the mark of greatness is easily seen upon Fazekas, as well as Jackson, Tiea, and King.
They are a cross section of what is sure to be a spectacular group of athletes and basketball elite at the senior level over the next few years.
On this occasion, however, Tiea and Jackson went on to win the bragging rights in a lopsided win for the championship over the Brennan Cardinals. The Red Birds sidelined the Massey Mustangs in the semis to make their way to the big dance.
Although Fazekas and company had to settle for silver, in his final analysis he said, “Kennedy came out strong and was the better team in this tournament, but we learned a lot from playing them. Our coach said he was very proud of us for giving it our best. I personally think it will be a story with a different ending the next time we meet.”