Originally Posted by Toronto Sun
The best Canadian high school basketball player to come along in years has been kicked off his American prep school team for what his coach is calling "insubordination."
By almost everyone's account, Tristan Thompson is a great kid, a dedicated student and not in any way problematic. And that's what makes his story so shocking, complicated and yet compelling. The Grade 11 student from Brampton is such an immense talent that ESPN has him rated third best among all junior players in the United States, and he already has accepted a full scholarship to the University of Texas.
That's the future. It's the present Thompson has to address. Since he was banished from the team in mid-game earlier this week, at least 10 other American prep schools have contacted family, or friends of the family, to try to have Thompson transfer to their school. That number probably will be tripled by today. Such is the business of high school sport in the U.S. and in some cases, the business of private-school sport in Canada.
But the business for the teenaged commodity that is Thompson is recovering from a relationship with his coach that his mother, Andrea, calls "mean-spirited" and "verbally abusive and all negative," and his AAU coach and current confrere, Ro Russell, refers to as "insulting, de-humanizing and ego-driven."
The coach at Saint Benedict's Preparatory School in Newark is Dan Hurley, son of a legendary high school coach, brother of the legendary Bobby, seeking to carve out his own legend. Saint Benedict's is not just another prep school. The current basketball roster features players from Canada, Latvia, Lithuania and Cameroon among other countries. This is a place where basketball dreams are supposed to begin, not necessarily be trampled upon.
Hurley is no shrinking violet. He is an in-your-face, hard-on-his-stars, glass-half-empty, sometimes mean, sometimes insulting, coach. He would refer to the 6-foot-9 Thompson and fellow Canadian Myck Kabongo as The Bacon Boys. That was playful. Sneering that Thompson was "overrated," "Canadian" and "would never amount to anything," was not out of the ordinary, either.
Hurley maintains that "outside influences" damaged Thompson's attitude, which resulted in him being kicked off the bench during a recent game and told to leave the team. There are numerous accounts of the circumstances that led to the dismissal, not all of them consistent.