Does Daniel Have ‘Next’ North Of The Border?
As one of the most distinguished programs within the travel basketball circuit community, when Grassroots Canada appears on a schedule, coaches and scouts alike tend to notice. Directed by Ro Russell, the organization has produced more than one hundred Division I student-athletes in its existence, which spans more than a decade.
Russell is a familiar face in the basketball world. In fact, you may have noticed him on your television screen behind the Michigan bench, during the recent Final Four in Atlanta, Georgia. One of his former players, Nik Stauskas, was a breakout freshman for the Wolverines this year and gained national acclaim by helping lead the Wolverines to the 2013 NCAA National Championship game.
It is no secret that Grassroots Canada alumni have had a tremendous impact at every level of basketball in the United States. Since dominating the high school basketball scene, many have become familiar with 2011 NBA lottery pick Tristan Thompson, of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as first round selection Cory Joseph, a current member of the San Antonio Spurts.
Other prominent players who have donned Grassroots Canada uniforms include current Stanford forward Dwight Powell, former Marquette guard Junior Cadougan, and recent 2013 NBA Draft entrant Myck Kabongo, who played collegiately at Texas, among many others. With this type of talent crossing the border nearly each year, the question is not if, but when the Grassroots Canada program will produce its next star.
According to Russell, class of 2018 backcourt prospect Shakur Daniel certainly has a chance to be that player, if he continues to progress. When asked how the 6-foot-4 swingman compares to the best players he has coached over the years, Russell replied without hesitation,
“Skill-wise, at this stage in his development, Shakur [Daniel] is the best that I’ve seen.”
So who is this young man that Russell speaks so highly of? Daniel is an Ajax, Ontario resident, who made his national debut in the United States last summer at the ‘Future of the Game East’ camp, hosted by John Lucas in Hampton, Virginia. There the Canadian youngster displayed the ability to play all five positions on the floor. Most that have seen Daniel would agree that versatility is the trademark of his game, not in a sense that he has trouble fitting a position, but because he is naturally gifted enough to perform any task asked of him on the court.
“He can do it all,” said Russell of Daniel. “He is quick, athletic, can collect rebounds and bring the ball up the court himself. He takes pride on defense and can defend the other team’s best player. This guy is a gym rat and is always working on his game. Shakur [Daniel] makes an impact in almost every possible way.”
Russell went as far to say that Daniel could become the best player that Canada has produced. That bestowal may be difficult to concur with when considering the acclaim that Andrew Wiggins has gained as the consensus number one high school player in the world this year.
Also keep in mind emerging talents such as current rising high school junior Chris Egi and sophomores Justin Jackson and Jamal Murray. Still, the fact remains that Shakur Daniel could easily become regarded an elite high school talent in coming years and potentially join a Canadian Olympic team in 2020, which appears to have the tools to topple the United States from the world’s basketball throne.
While it’s fun to consider the long-term possibilities when assessing the potential of a player such as Daniel, no steps can be skipped in the developmental process, in order to ensure such lofty goals one day become achievable.
In the coming weeks, Daniel will play locally in his grade division with the ‘Advantage Titans’, honing his game for the greater competition that waits ahead. He plans to return to the United States in order to compete in the annual John Lucas International Middle School Combine, which takes place each May in Houston, Texas. He also plans to continue to participate internationally with the Grassroots Canada organization and has been retained by Russell on the both the 16U and 17U rosters for this summer.
Though Daniel is weighing his options of coming stateside for high school, he currently plans to attend Bill Crothers Secondary School, located in Unionville, Ontario, Canada. As he prepares for better competition at that level, Daniel stated that he is working on a number of skills with regard to his individual game.
“Mainly I need to become a better outside shooter,” Daniel commented. “My three-point shot is what I am working on.”
Russell and Daniel’s father, Clive, agreed with his assessment of his own game and Russell also pointed to strength and conditioning as important aspects for every young player.
“With Shakur being so young, eventually we will get him [involved with] a strength and conditioning program. A lot of young men his age naturally need to put more muscle on,” Russell told DunkDog.com. “Once he gets stronger, he will be much more comfortable against older, most physically developed players.”
It is clear after having only a brief conversation with Daniel and those close to him, that the young man is in a position to be very successful. When considering facets beyond basketball, the young man is extremely well-spoken, and has the drive to make anyone want to applaud his efforts.
Firmly entrenched on the DunkDog.com scouting/recruiting radar, Shakur Daniel must be mentioned when upcoming basketball talent in Canada is the topic of discussion, and other services are sure to take notice soon. Nothing is certain but there is little doubt that Daniel will be a touted recruit from the class of 2018 in the coming years!