GATINEAU, QC – Generals are in charge of their armies and on the hardwood courts in Gatineau, nobody commands their troops better than Class of 2014 point guard Kevin Zabo.
Nestled across the border from Canada’s Capital in Quebec is Gatineau, a growing city in Quebec and mostly known for its slew of government workers, casino and now a new breed of Canadian basketball player.
A few years after Aylmer, QC guard Olivier Hanlan, gained some top prep level experience in the United States before jetting off to Boston College and made some noise with 41-point performance this past season against league foe Georgia Tech, a new lead guard from the Outaouais is poised to take over the spotlight.
Zabo of Gatineau, like Hanlan, is a lead guard who left the area looking for a better opportunity for more exposure and a chance at a NCAA Scholarship, and is now looking every bit the star.
The 6’2” guard has spent the last three seasons in the United States playing high school basketball with American powerhouse prep schools such as St. Mark’s Prep (MA) Southborough during his freshman season and Montrose Christian Academy (MD) Rockville during his sophomore season before landing at the prestigious Brewster Academy in Wolfboro, New Hampshire, where he played last season and currently lines up alongside some of the other top ranked players in his class including top 10 recruit and Syracuse commit Chris McCullough.
While his game has flourished at the school, Zabo has also had to make some big changes to his life in pursuit of his dream of a future in the game.
“It’s something I had to do,” said Zabo. “I think it’s helped me mature faster and helped me become mentally tougher. It’s not something I regret at all. My family is proud; my dad comes down to Brewster to watch some games and my mom too. They’re really supportive.”
Like Hanlan, Zabo is a point guard, but has a different mentality to the way he plays his game, compared to Hanlan, who has more of a scorers mentality, Zabo is more a facilitator and a coach on the floor, who helps his team spread defenses and attack.
“I’m a point guard, so I like to facilitate for my teammates, explained the young hoops prodigy. “I also can score the ball for myself when I need to, but am always working on stuff. My shot can be more consistent, I’ve had some good games with it, but I want to improve on it for the next level.”
While playing in the states, he’s gained the opportunity to not only get more exposure, but also play with and against some of the best competition there has been in high school basketball.
“That’s really tough,” said Zabo. “I’ve played against some really tough guys and this summer I played against Tyus Jones (the top rated point guard in the class of 2014) and he’s the best I’ve seen. He’s a point guard, who’s just always in control of the game.”
Those opportunities were stepping-stones for the youngster, who credits former Grassroots coaches at his prep schools and CIA Bounce AAU team with some of his most important development in the game.
“With the CIA Bounce the coaches obviously have supported me a lot and really helped with my game,” noted Zabo. “I’ve also been lucky to have great coaches along the way at all my stops and Jason Smith, the coach at Brewster, is a great coach and gets his players ready for college, which is a great thing to experience.”
Despite earning his stripes locally, his game continued to evolve at the prep school level, where Zabo, not only got to play with some of the best Canadians in high school (such as future NBA superstar and odds on favourite to be the first overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins) with the CIA Bounce AAU team on the summer circuit, but he also got the chance to represent his country as part of Basketball Canada’s Junior Men’s national Development Program in a number of tournaments including the Nike Global Skills Challenge, where he turned some heads and has seen his NCAA stock rise.
“It’s tough to come up with a highlight of all the experiences I’ve had so far,” explained the modest Zabo. “I have quite a few which have been incredible. Playing for Team Canada U17 youth this summer, competing in the national championships with Brewster (Academy), AAU ball, the Nike Global Challenge and Michael Jordan Classic, where I got to play against some top international guys and I even got to work out with Steve Nash.”
For now Zabo, has a short list of team’s who have been courting the lead guard for a long time, but after his performance at the Global Skills Challenge the number of offers have increased.
“I have offers from some schools and a lot of interest from others, who have said they want to see me play this season at Brewster first,” indicated Zabo. “To be honest it’s pretty wide open right now, but I’d like to decide during the early period, but I may wait if I have to. I’m looking at visiting San Diego State in September and George Washington, who both have offers for me right now, but I’ve also had a lot of interest. UConn’s been interested, Minnesota, Oregon and a bunch of schools, but it should get more clear when they’ve had a chance to watch me show my skills.”
While the offers are still coming in, the young guard is being meticulous with the process in order to make the best choice in the future for himself on the court and education wise.
“I’m looking for a school, where I can come in and contribut from Day 1,” explained Zabo. “I would love to get minutes as a freshman and gain experience so I can improve to where I need to be for my senior year. I want to be somewhere that needs me. I’m looking for a good relationship with the coach and just a great fit on and off the court; preferably I’d like to not be that far from home, but time will tell what’s the best fit.”
While the NBA is his dream, he’s careful about the process and is just taking the whole experience one step at a time.
“The NBA is my ultimate goal,” noted Zabo, “but figuring out which college to choose and enjoying all these opportunities and finding out what’s best for me is what comes first. It’s always been a dream to play in college and all of this has been a blessing.”