The talent level in Canada grows stronger and deeper each year and one name to watch over the next four years is Junior Cadougan, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound point guard from Eastern Commerce High School in Toronto, Ontario. He shined at the recent Tournament of Champions with his Grassroots Canada AAU club against some of the top teams in the country.
Cadougan may only be a class of 2008 prospect but he knows the who's who list of top players, says Grassroots Canada coach Ro Russell.
"He wanted to know who he was going to play against so he could make a name for himself," Russell said.
Mission accomplished. Cadougan scored 19 points and seven assists against D.C. Assault, one of the top programs in the country. A game later, Cadougan put in 24 points and six assists to tournament runner-up H-Squad and dropped 30 points and eight assists on the Long Island Lightning, featuring class of 2009 stud Lance Stevenson. The trip did a number for the youngster's psyche.
"It definitely boosted up my confidence," Cadougan said. "I thought I really extended my game and played well against the best players there."
Cadougan's showing in North Carolina doesn't come as a big surprise to his high school coach Roy Rana.
"He's just gifted," Rana said. "His court vision is uncanny. Junior is so much tougher than a lot of the guys around him. He plays his game and just doesn't get nervous. He just plays.
"The sky is the limit for him. He's got a chance to be big time just because his feel for the game. He can dominate the game in so many ways. I think the real mark for him is kids say they really like playing with him. He gets guys into position and gets it done. Junior will find them the ball and finish with 10 assists but he'll also have 25 to 30 points. He gets everyone involved."
Russell said he's had to change his young star's name because Cadougan doesn't play like a freshman.
"He plays like a veteran, thus the new nickname 'senior' as opposed to Junior, his real name," Russell said.
Cadougan's dream school is UNC, Russell says. Arizona, Connecticut, Duke, Iowa State, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Syracuse and Washington have all shown some interest this early in the process.
Recruiting isn't a big deal for Cadougan. At least not yet. For now, he'll travel across North America to improve his game. Cadougan will be in San Diego this weekend for the International Sports Invitational, where he'll face up against guys like D.J. Augustin, Mike Conley, Javaris Crittenton and O.J. Mayo. Then it's a stop at the ABCD camp in July as well as the usual stop in Las Vegas.