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Montreal’s Olivier Rioux, world’s tallest teen, chasing hoops dream at Canada Games


Olivier Rioux landed with a size-large exclamation level on Michael Meeks’ radar when the Canada Basketball coach opened a photograph in his inbox seven years in the past.

Rioux was attending a youngsters basketball camp in Montreal, and posed for a photograph alongside then-Detroit Pistons and Canadian workforce centre Joel Anthony, who stands a formidable six foot 9.

“Ron Yeung (Canada Basketball’s manager of domestic development) sent me this photo of Olivier and Joel, and Olivier is about the same height, give or take an inch. Ron says, ‘This kid is nine years old,”’ mentioned Meeks.

“I was immediately on the phones, finding out who he was and what was going on and what we can do to help.”

In the years since, Rioux has sprouted to a full seven foot six. He can dunk on an NBA hoop whereas barely leaving his toes.

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Guinness World Records acknowledged him because the world’s tallest teenager when he was 15 and 7 foot 5. If he performed within the NBA now, he’d be tied with Cleveland’s Tacko Fall because the league’s tallest participant.

Read extra:

Meet the tallest teen in the world. He’s 15, from Montreal and is 7-foot-5

But Rioux is enjoying for Quebec at the Canada Summer Games this week in Ontario’s Niagara Region with youngsters at least his personal age, if nowhere close to his dimension.

Quebec was scheduled to face Saskatchewan on Friday after dropping a 72-70 resolution to Alberta in Thursday evening’s semifinal.

Meeks, who’s at the Games to regulate Canada’s younger gamers, mentioned he’s seen enchancment in Rioux even over the previous few weeks, however cautions that like every tremendous tall participant, he’s a long-term work in progress.

“People see his size and their expectations are pretty high,” mentioned Meeks. “For me, it’s the little things like his mobility and agility, how he’s moving, how he conceptualizes the game — how much fun is he having competing and playing?

“This is important because we’re in uncharted territories with Olivier, there’s never been anybody that big at that age before. So, we’re kind of cautiously optimistic that he’s definitely moving in the right direction.”

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Rioux, who’s from Anjou, a borough in east Montreal, will start Grade 10 within the fall in Bradenton, Fla. He moved there to attend IMG Academy — a faculty that counts celebrity tennis sisters Serena and Venus Williams amongst its alumni — a 12 months in the past.

“It was nice,” Rioux mentioned of his first 12 months away from residence. “I was calling my parents almost every day, and the school year was good, my grades were up.

“Back in Montreal I used to go to school every day for at least eight hours. Now I go to school for three hours and practice in the afternoon, It’s different,” he added with a deep-voiced snort.

Click to play video: 'Montrealer Olivier Rioux breaks record, wins title for world’s tallest teenager'

Montrealer Olivier Rioux breaks report, wins title for world’s tallest teenager

Montrealer Olivier Rioux breaks report, wins title for world’s tallest teenager – Sep 22, 2021

He’s having enjoyable at the Games, he mentioned, and has taken in a few of the boxing competitors.

Rioux was 5-2 in kindergarten. His dad Jean-François is 6-8, his mother Anne is 6-2.

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He first turned an unsuspecting web star at age 12, whereas enjoying at a event in Spain. He stood out like a maypole among the many different gamers on the courtroom. It caught the attention of Golden State star Steph Curry, who tweeted: “So many questions ? ”

Jamal Murray posed for a photograph alongside him that summer season. He already towered over the Denver Nuggets star guard from Kitchener, Ont.

Joey Mckitterick, who’s coached Rioux at Montreal’s AAU program Brookwood Elite since he was 12, echoed Meeks in that he’s seen enormous enchancment in Rioux this 12 months, significantly as his rising has slowed and his co-ordination is catching up.

But maybe most necessary is that Rioux is having fun with the sport, which is essential since enormous expectations include being tremendous tall.

“I think this year you could see that he enjoyed everything about it, the basketball, the travelling, everything like that,” Mckitterick mentioned.

“He’s definitely falling in love with it.”

Mckitterick mentioned a part of his duty teaching Rioux was being a buffer between the teenager and curious onlookers.

“When we journey, we could possibly be sitting in a resort foyer and random strangers will come as much as him and ask him for an image. It’s difficult even getting by means of the airport to make a flight on time as a result of individuals are consistently stopping him: ‘Can I take your picture? Can you hold my baby?’ Can you do that, are you able to try this?

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“When I met with our players at the end of the year. I told him `I can’t imagine being you. But the best I can do is just kind of guide you and help you and be here for you for anything you need, because I can’t put myself in your position.’ Nobody could.”

That uniqueness makes it troublesome to gauge the place basketball would possibly take him.

“When you see Olivier, every three to six months he’s doing things quicker, faster, stronger, more balanced, he’s got more agility, his game is getting better, his understanding of how to impact the game is getting better,” Meeks mentioned. “This is important, because usually taller players are a little bit slower (to develop), and he’s moving at the right rate in terms of a super tall player.

“Usually guys that stopped growing at about 6-3, 6-4, you could begin to see exactly what they’re going to be by the time they’re 16 years old. But these tall, tall players, it’s 24, 25 before it all starts coming together.”

READ MORE: Montreal hosts major 3×3 basketball tournament — with a twist

Rioux, who likes to review the video games of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic, who’re each 6-11, is well-proportioned for his dimension and hasn’t had any main bodily points resembling sore knees that may include quick progress.

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Among different NBA giants, Gheorghe Muresan is listed because the tallest ever at seven foot seven. Yao Ming and Shawn Bradley have been 7-6. Canadian Sim Bhullar was 7-5, however his weight _ he was listed at 360 kilos _ was a limiting issue.

Canada at least has some expertise with tremendous tall gamers. Zach Edey, a 20-year-old from Toronto, is seven foot 4. Edey made his debut with Canada’s senior males’s workforce in a World Cup qualifier in May. The IMG Academy product is heading into his junior season for the Purdue Boilermakers, who’ve additionally expressed early curiosity in Rioux.

“There are a lot of Division 1 schools that are very familiar with him already,” Mckitterick mentioned. “The schools that are really focusing in on him are ones that value the size and want to use it. Because basketball has kind of gone in the direction of smaller (multi-position players), but there’s still a lot of programs that still value that size.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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