Montreal is becoming a hotbed for basketball talent
Chris Boucher, Luguentz Dort and Khem Birch become the first triad of players from Montreal to start in an NBA game.
For the first time in the NBA's history, three players from the city of Montreal were part of the starting lineups in a contest between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Toronto Raptors on April 18.
Chris Boucher and Khem Birch were part of Toronto’s starting lineup, while Luguentz Dort was Oklahoma City’s starting shooting guard.
For decades, the basketball talent in Montreal had been overlooked, and the city was not seen as a place where highly ranked prospects came from.
This historic night, however, finally brought to light the rising growth in popularity that basketball has seen in Montreal over the years.
Montreal is primarily known for its love of hockey, but these rising stars are shifting the limelight onto the hardwood. Katerina Stoupas, a member of the women’s basketball team at Bishop's University, shed light on the impact basketball has left in the community.
“When I started playing, I would watch a lot of U Sports women’s games, such as Concordia, McGill, and it fascinated me,” Stoupas said. “Fast forward eight years later and I’m one of them. Some young girl or boy could be looking at my team and I as role models.”
This recognition could lead to more scouts and evaluators taking notice of the talent here moving forward due to players' accomplishments.
Alain Louis, a point guard at Carleton University, was ecstatic to see Montreal’s basketball talent finally receive recognition.
“Montreal is on the map now, and the NBA circle is aware,” Louis said. “The significance is huge, and it’s a step in the right direction. The [more] NBA circles understand how good we are, the more chances we have of seeing an NBA team here in the city becoming possible.”
Seeing all the Montreal-natives in an NBA game has inspired Louis to pursue his goal of playing basketball professionally someday.
“Where they are now and where they came from just motivated every hooper,” Louis said. “They make us believe in the hoop dream even more because you can be from Montreal and make it to the big league."
"What’s important to take away from the three stories is that none of them got drafted. It shows you there’s light even if you don’t get drafted,” he added.
With up-and-coming NBA prospects Bennedict Mathurin and Quincy Guerrier—as well as Karim Mané of the Orlando Magic—the future of Montreal basketball looks bright.
Hockey may reign supreme in Montreal, but basketball is sparking new waves of potential among sports enthusiasts. It shows no signs of slowing down, and appears to be an activity that may increase in popularity among the city’s youth in the following years.
Montreal has been lacking a secondary sport that generates a buzz in the city since the Montreal Expos left for Washington back in 2004. Knowing this, the creation of an NBA team that represents Montreal might be an ideal opportunity to consider.
One thing is for certain: this is just the tip of the iceberg for players from Montreal looking to play the big leagues.