Both the U15 & U17 National Championships came and went last week in Winnipeg. Quebec stole the show in the U17 category, securing a third straight Gold medal. The U15 team made the final as well, giving defending champion Ontario all it could handle. If you look closely at the coaching staffs and team rosters for both age groups, you will notice a considerable amount of participants also play for an up-and-coming AAU program based in Montreal, called QC-United.
Name: QC-United Sports Club
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Team website: www.qcunited.ca
Three years ago, a young group of talented players started to make some noise in the Quebec Basketball Community under the name “Okapi Ballers”. Featuring some of the best players in the province and enjoying a dominant summer, a young aspiring coach became aware that there was big potential for a new wave in Quebec hoops.
With a hardworking and dedicated coaching staff and good player development, QC-United has the ultimate goal to help Elite players from Quebec to achieve their goals and fulfill their dreams.
“We are trying to give a new vibe that will put a good taste in this province’s basketball community,” says club president Igor Rwigema (the aspiring coach previously mentioned).
“We have developed a good working relationship with Grassroots Canada and New England Playaz - two successful AAU programs that will give the opportunity for players to live the experience of competing in bigger tournaments.”
In only its second summer of existence, QC-United is really just getting started. They plan to give the basketball community in Quebec something to be proud of and look forward to every year.
Emmanuel Hamel 5'9” PG, Ahuntsic (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2012
Kevin Rwigema 6'1” PG, John Abbott (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2012
Guillaume Payen-Boucard 6'5” SF, Ahuntsic (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2011
Alexis Lemieux 6'3” PF, Jean de Brébeuf (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2012
Alex Katahwa 6'4” SF, Ste-Foy (Quebec City, Qc) Class of 2012
Jonathan Bermillo 6'2” SG, Vanier (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2011
Keven Martineau 6'8” C, Montmorency (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2012
Edouard Langis 6'2” SG, Ste-Foy (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2011
Boris Hadzimuratovic 6'9” C, Ste-Foy (Quebec City, Qc) Class of 2011
Francois Bourque 6'6” PF, Montmorency (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2012
Kevin Mirindi 6'5” SF, Ahuntsic (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2012
Amos Paul 6'4” SF, St-Exupéry (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2012
Alex Rufagari 6'3” SF, Dawson (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2012
Jayde Dawson 6'1” PG, Dawson Community (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2013
Graduating Player (Class of 2010)
Charles Lacroix 6'7” C, McGill University (CIS)
This young group has a really good collection of size, athleticism, and potential. Guillaume Payen-Boucard is a player that immediately stands out when the action starts on the court. An athletic wing with size and a great motor, he is eyed as the next prospect out of the program to earn an NCAA scholarship.
“Payen had a break out summer; receiving calls from (NCAA Division 1) mid-major school such as Maine and Furman,” says Rwigema.
“His athleticism and strength make him a legit NCAA prospect. Also under the radar is 6'9 bully Boris Hadzimuratovic from Quebec City. Boris was the man in the middle all summer for this QC-United team, intimidating opponents with his frame. His soft touch around the rim makes him an option for college coaches.”
Alongside Boris in the paint, Charles Lacroix (McGill commit) gave QC-United another option inside, finishing plays near the rim or stepping out for a mid-range jumper. Jonathan Bermillo was also a welcomed late addition to the team.
“(Jonathan) was the general on the court, directing traffic and knocking down big shots in crunch time. He's definitely a player to watch out for next summer.”
Watch out for the only Class of 2013 player figuring into this lineup, Jayde Dawson.
“Jayde has the ability to play up and down with any athlete in the AAU circuit,” says Rwigema.
“His quickness and explosive first step make him tough to guard. He showed a glimpse of what he can do in the semi-final matchup against Brookwood Elite at the HangTime tournament and he's definitely one of the next top guards to come out of this province.”
Alex Paquin 6'0” PG, Charles Lemoyne (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2013
Pablo Chickas 6'0” SG, St-Jean Baptiste (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2013
Ricardo Monge 6'0” PG, Nicolas Gatineau (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2013
Franck Mpeck 5'8” PG, Seminaire St-Joseph (Trois Rivieres, Qc) Class of 2013
Simon Michon 6'3” SG, Jean de Brébeuf (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2013
Joel Poulin 6'3” SG, Seminaire St-Joseph (Trois-Rivieres, Qc) Class of 2013
Antoine Gagnon-Bouchard 6'6” SF, Charles Lemoyne (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2013
Mamadou Gueye 6'6” SF, Ste-Foy (Quebec City, Qc) Class of 2013
Felix Bourgeois 6'5” PF, St-Bruno (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2013
Peter Weston 6'3” SG, Quebec High School (Quebec City, Qc) Class of 2013
Alexandre Houde 6'8” C, St-Bruno (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2013
Jevic Matulu 6'4” SF, Parc-Ex Knights (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2013
Teddy Rwigamba 6'5” SF, Grande-Riviere (Gatineau, Qc) Class of 2013
Link Kabadyundi 7'0” C, Tornades Longueuil (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2013
Kiari Gerba 6'5” SF, Parc-Ex Knights (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2013
Kevin Zabo 6'2” PG, St-Marks Prep (Southborough, Ma) Class of 2014
Sebastien Denault 6’9” C, Charles Lemoyne (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2013
Probably one of the biggest AAU teams in the country in terms of size, this U16 QC-United squad made noise this summer. With a good performance early in May at the Gym Rat Challenge, beating Metro Richmond and losing in a two-point game to Long Island Lightning, QC-United earned the right to compete in the First Eight tournament in Springfield, Massachusetts in July.
“This team was lead throughout the summer by 6'3 sharpshooter Peter Weston, averaging nearly 25 points per game,” says Rwigema.
“Peter demonstrated the ability to stretch out defences.”
The stellar point guard play of 6'0 Alex Paquin also gave a much needed help to QC offence.
“Alexandre was able to brake down the opponent best defender and find the open man on the floor. He was also a one-man press with his desire and hard-nosed on the ball defence.”
QC-United have some very intriguing post players in Sebastien Denault and Link Kabadyundi. They caught a lot of attention from NCAA coaches this summer and expect that to continue as they get stronger and more skilled.
Despite having the option of playing for the U15 Quebec team last week at Nationals, star point guard Kevin Zabo played for the U17s instead. He more than carried his own, earning Second Team All-Star status and averaging 13.2 ppg off the bench to go along with his shiny new Gold medal. Relatively unknown outside Quebec, he received an invite to the Junior National Team’s training camp in June. While he was one of the youngest there, our National Team coaching staff is well aware of Zabo’s blossoming as a player.
“After a great year, winning the Montreal Basketball League MVP award, Kevin showed multiple times this summer why his name could be mentioned as one of the top guards coming out of (Quebec), alongside Olivier Hanlan, Kenny Fred Chery, and Kemy Ossé,” says Rwigema.
“His strength and smooth style of play enable him to always be a step ahead of his defenders. Multiple times this summer, Kevin showed the cold-blooded mentality needed to be considered a big time player by scoring buzzer-beaters and sinking off-balanced shots to help his team win. The experience gained throughout the summer has got him ready as he's preparing to head to St. Mark’s Prep in the fall. There he will be playing alongside Alex Murphy and Kaleb Tarszcewski, two of the most recruited players in the nation.”
Jacob Desrosiers 6'0” SG, St-Jean Baptiste (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2014
Antoine Lavigueur 5'10” PG, Rochebelle (Quebec City, Qc) Class of 2014
Kurt Finnigan 5'7” PG, Dawson Community (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2014
James Tyrrell 6'0” SG, Dawson Community (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2015
Azeem Bailey 5'8” PG, Lasalle (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2014
Vincent Bastrash 6'3” SF, Seminaire St-Joseph (Trois-Rivieres, Qc) Class of 2014
Charles Berdnikoff 6'2” PG, Tornades Longueuil (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2014
Joseph Chartouny 6'3” SG, Jean de Brébeuf (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2014
Jéremie Fortin 6'3” SF, Charles Lemoyne (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2014
Levi Londole 6'5” PF, Honoré Mercier (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2014
Patrick Steeves 6'6” SF, Dawson Community (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2014
Joel Tshimanga 6'6” PF, Tornades Longueuil (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2014
Benoit Guilbault 6'5” PF, College Laval (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2014
Jean-Daniel Mathieu 6'5” PF, Seminaire St-Joseph (Trois-Rivieres, Qc) Class of 2014
Richardson Maitre 6'1” PG, Parc Ex Knights (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2014
Olivier Gauthier 6'5” C, Tornades Longueuil (Montreal, Qc) Class of 2014
With so many QC-United participants also on the Provincial team roster, 8 in all, their strong showings on both the AAU trail and at Nationals make perfect sense. The AAU summer was great for this particular group. They finished with an overall record of 18 wins and 4 losses.
“It's hard to highlight individual performances with this team since they were the real definition of ‘team basketball’,” says Rwigema.
“Joseph Chartouny was named to the All-Star team at the Gym Rat Challenge. Patrick Steeves got himself into the top performers list in the same event. Point guard Richardson Maitre was the general and will be looked upon to provide the same type of help to this Qc-United squad next year.”
Patrick Steeves enjoyed an excellent week at U17 Nationals, leading Quebec to the championship game as their leading scorer (20.0 ppg) and rebounder (9.2 rpg). He was later recognized as a First Team All-Star.
Regarded as the most talented team of the program, the U14 team features the next crop of players planning to represent the province at the next Canada Summer Games in 2013. Can they repeat the Gold medal performance that Olivier Hanlan, Kenny Fred Chery, Kemy Ossé, and Kewyn Blain experienced in 2009? Regardless, this is an age group with a lot of potential ready to develop.
“This is a well-balanced squad with extremely skilled guards, fundamentally sound wings, and long (and still growing) ‘bigs’,” says Rwigema.
“This summer was a learning experience as they were matched up against bigger and older competition all summer. However, showings in the U.S. against teams their age showed the real potential of this team. The future is bright.”
Rwigema also pointed towards a Parc-Ex Knight ‘prodigy’ that was recognized as a top performer at the Five Star Camp at Fordham University this summer, Kendrick Jolin. Named the most promising prospect at the camp, he was the only 8th grader to land on the All-Star list. He will be another name to look out for as QC-United and he continues to grow.
Tournament Schedule and Results
May 29-30 Invitations Blizzard
May 29-30 Gym Rat Challenge (Albany, NY)
U15: 4-1 Final Four
June 11-13 Hang Time Tournament (Montreal, QC)
U15: 5-0 Tournament Champs
U16: 4-1 Tournament Finalist
U17: 2-1 Tournament Semi-finalist
June 19-20 Reebok Summer Invitational
June 25-27 QC-United Classic
U14: 2-1 Tournament Semi-finalist
U16: 3-1 Tournament Semi-finalist
July 10 First Eight (Springfield, MA)
July 10-12 Hoop Hall Nationals
U15: 5-1 Tournament Semi-finalist (Final Four)
U16: 4-1 Silver Division Champions
Festival de Montreal