For all his life, Aden Holloway — a five-star basketball recruit in this year’s high school class — knew he had some Canadian roots in him.
But it wasn’t until his name popped up on the World Team roster for the 2023 Nike Hoop Summit, an annual event featuring some of the best prospects from around the world, as a representative of Canada that many realized his connection.
Holloway’s mother was born in Calgary and grew up in Toronto to American football player Dave Raimey. He played over a decade in the Canadian Football League (CFL), winning two Grey Cups with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Toronto Argonauts. In 2000, Raimey was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame.
When Holloway’s teammate and fellow Canadian Michael Nwoko was informed that his mother was Canadian, the wheels started turning in his head.
“I was like, ‘You know you could play for the Canadian National Team since you’re Canadian right,’” said Nwoko.
Both Holloway and Nwoko started playing together last year during the AAU circuit in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League and quickly established a close bond. It’d eventually lead to them playing their senior year of high school basketball together at Prolific Prep in California this season.
Nwoko, a six-foot-10 big from Milton, Ont., represented Canada last summer at the FIBA U18 Men’s Americas Championship 2022 en route to a bronze medal. The big man averaged 12.2 points and led Canada with 8.3 rebounds. He’s since committed to play at the University of Miami next year.
Right now, Nwoko hasn’t stopped thinking about the upcoming FIBA U19 Men’s Basketball World Cup 2023 and what it’d mean if Canada won its second gold medal in the event. It’s what led him to nudge Holloway about joining the national team.
“I told him to get on it and that it’d be a really good opportunity,” said Nwoko. “I know Canada, we need another point guard. And it’s Aden Holloway, who wouldn’t want him?”
The six-foot-two point guard has committed to play at Auburn University next year, but before he does, Holloway will try out for the Canadian U19 Men’s National Team that will be playing this summer at the World Cup in Hungary.
Over the last few weeks, he’s made a dozen trips to the post office, taken passport pictures, and signed multiple forms just so he could play in the Nike Hoop Summit for Canada.
“It was all worth it. I love playing on the World Team, it’s been amazing. I’m ready to see what playing on actual Team Canada is like,” said Holloway.
“I’m just trying to bring wins to Canada, and represent for Canada Basketball and my Mom.”
A total of 46 athletes from provinces across Canada were invited to Toronto from April 7-10 for the Men’s High Performance U19 National Team Age-Group Assessment Camp.
For Holloway, he’s excited to potentially join the long line of point guards that have donned the red and white, mentioning Steve Nash as someone he admired and loved studying.
“I just used to watch his tapes like all the time growing up as a little kid,” said Holloway. “He’s been probably my all-time favourite point guard just growing up. I know a lot about him.”
As of now, Holloway’s paperwork is still processing with Canadian immigration to officially make the switch and play this summer. But in anticipation, Holloway flew to Toronto from Portland to participate in the final day of the assessment camp after playing in the annual Nike Hoop Summit for Team World.
Both he and Nwoko joined a long list of Canadians that have played in the Nike Hoop Summit showcase from the likes of Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Andrew Wiggins.
Nwoko came off the bench and poured in 17 points, eight rebounds and two assists while Holloway had 15 points, four rebounds and three assists in a 84-90 loss to Team USA.
“I’ve been overlooked my whole life,” said Nwoko about his performance after the game. “Being able to be on the biggest stage and perform is a blessing to me.”
Michael Meeks, the assistant general manager of Men's High Performance, expects Nwoko to be a big part of Canada at the World Cup this summer and says thanks to him, the program is now lucky to have a true floor general in Holloway.
“We were looking for a good point guard and just more backcourt players with good size, skill and ability. He’s one of the top guards in high school today, I’d put him up there with just about anyone,” said Meeks.
The FIBA U19 Men’s Basketball World Cup 2023 will take place from June 24 to July 2, 2023 in Debrecen, Hungary and will feature the best 16 teams in the world. Canada is currently ranked 7th overall in the FIBA boy’s age-group rankings, presented by Nike, following the conclusion of the FIBA 2022 Youth Events.