Times Staff Writer
Published August 16, 2006
WINDSOR ONTARIO CANADA – Here in the Automotive Capital of Canada, a new Legend has sprung to life in the past four years. And it is making believers out of college coaches & professional basketball players with big dreams for basketball stardom.
Several blue-chip prospects – including University of Central Arkansas’ Imad Quwash, Columbia University’s Dan Trepanier, Central Michigan University’s Andre Smyth and Graceland University’s Josh Abbey, and top 25 high school basketball player in Canada Ryan Robinet- have been regular visitors during the summer months to Elite Basketball Training Academy.
So have dozens of other collegians hoping to improve their standing in the eyes of scouts, coaches and general managers at Professional combines from the next 4-5 months.
All have been drawn to this “Hockey Town” by Jamie Stewart – a man known for his strength and conditioning wizardry. His intensive workout program has trained numerous D1 College Players as well as Professional players in only 4 years, and also helped many veteran Professional Overseas Players get in shape during the off-season.
On this breezy, late Thursday afternoon, Stewart, a native of Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, can be found at his usual spot: moving around the basketball court at the Riverside Baseball Center in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. This is the new home of Elite Basketball Training Academy.
He is busy working out his first ever client, Dan Trepanier, Point Guard for the Columbia Tigers of Manhattan NY, one of many program graduates who come back each year to continue with their development.
Other vets such as Andre Smyth, small forward for Central Michigan University have worked out with Stewart as collegians, and return to train under Stewart again.
“These guys have been with me a long time and they come back to train here in boring Windsor, Ontario when they could be in NY or LA or Chicago training, it just creates a great sense of pride for the Academy,” says Stewart, 30. “And that’s one thing that sets us apart and has given us our reputation.”
That reputation is why College Scouts, personnel executives and recruiters call him virtually every day for his views on players.
“I’m not going to lie,” Stewart says. “If you’re lazy, you’re lazy. If you work hard, I’m going to call everybody I can for you. All it takes is a shot.”
Helping players get a good one is his greatest reward.
Stewart especially enjoys training players who might not have the most athletic ability in the world, but through sheer determination, work ethic & most importantly, sacrifice; end up defying the odds and receive a D1 scholarship a few years later. Or seeing a player who might have fell by the waste side as an 8th grade Center, evolve into a low to mid level Division 1 point guard. “Hey, Ryan Robinet is going to Hillsdale College by out working his competitors. He developed such a great jump shot with extraordinary range for a high school kid, that coaches from bigger schools wanted to take a look at him,” he says.
Robinet, who had a few 40 point games over the summer in multiple high caliber Michigan Summer Leagues, including a 48 point explosion where he had over 10 3 pointers made, showed up to train with Stewart the very next day after the game. He remains grateful. “Whether it’s mechanics on the jump shot, ballhandling, passing, toughness, jumping, speed, agility, power, a motivational story that gets you over that ‘hump’ or whatever, he can make you better,” Robinet says. “I didn’t even make the Windsor High School All Star team 2 years ago in grade 11, and through training with Jamie, I’m one of the top 25 players in all of Canada! He’s an amazing leader, motivator & person.”
But last year, Stewart needed a helping hand, too.
Robinet was ruled ineligible during the fall of 2005, making it impossible for him to showcase his skills in front of his home town of Windsor. Stewart made a few calls and was able to get Ryan into a number of Detroit leagues, which provided for better competition than he would have received in the regular Windsor High School League, as well as some much needed exposure from the most important basketball people in the Detroit and Michigan area. While ripping up the Leagues in Detroit, Robinet was spotted by a few AAU teams and was recruited hard by all of them. He eventually decided upon Team Michigan, the same Team Michigan that featured Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Tractor Trailer and many other of Detroit’s finest from over the years.
Robinet remembers those intense practice sessions where the players would at every opportunity ‘test’ him to see if he could really play. “I realized immediately that they were bigger, faster & stronger. What enabled me to excel at that level of competition was my skill set, & that is the direct result of training with Jamie.”
“Adam Bering has improved dramatically to where we strongly feel that with an additional year of training at the Academy after he graduates from High School, he will be in the running to receive a scholarship at one of two perimeter positions. He came to the Academy so late in his high school career that I questioned what the Academy could do for him with only a short period of time to work with. But he has pleasantly surprised me. I’m so proud of him and this coaching experience has truly made me a better Development Coach. He literally could not dribble or shoot when he first started in March of 2006. By July of that same year, he was making 3’s in our Michigan Leagues, breaking pressure against competitive defense, and really showing flashes of future greatness. It has been amazing. I don’t like to go to the games in the States out of fear for over analyzing and criticizing my kids, because I’m with them 8 hours per day, 5 or 6 days a week already. But, it was the ‘open period’ for college recruiters and Ryan was being heavily scouted so he wanted me to be there and I went. Adam had six 3 pointers that game and recruiters were asking me questions about him. A 6’7 small forward who will eventually be a point forward in the Luke Walton mold. The ultimate question with players who develop from the inside out, meaning the center position to the wing, is if he can stay in front of faster more athletic players. In another year, with his work ethic and most importantly, his coach-ability, I know he will be able to!”
Stewart, who describes Goran Kovac with a huge smile on his face, says that in 2 years Kovac will be a Scholarship Wing Player who will be able to pass over the top of smaller defenders, play in the post and overpower smaller players with his great size and awkwardness.
“I love Goran because he is a beautiful young man with a heart for making people happy. He presents such a challenge to the Academy because he was a really slow, awkward center with mechanics on the jump shot to where I used to cringe whenever he used to go up for a jumper. I remember talking to myself about loving kids, having patience and using this kid as a great mountain to climb when he first arrived at the Academy. I used to sarcastically tell people that if I could make this kid a pure jump shooter, that I should start charging people $1000 per hour like they do in the pro’s, because his jumper was one of the ugliest things I have ever seen on a basketball court. Nevertheless; with his attention to detail, his work ethic, his dedication to the Academy and the workouts, he is a future Star in this area. The future looks so promising to Goran because he genuinely wants to improve. He asks so many questions about the areas in which he initially struggled with that it drives you crazy, but that is the sign of a keener. A kid that deep down in his heart, wants to be better than other people think he can be. I love working with him!”
He graduated from Bridgeport University with a B.A. in education and an M.A. in Secondary Education with a concentration on Kinesiology & Exercise Science. He also has a teaching degree from the University of Windsor, with a focus on Physical Education. He began his basketball program because of the guilt he felt for not using his vast array of basketball knowledge to help others achieve their dreams.
“I just wanted to give back, under my own terms. I told myself that if I produced a scholarship player in my time that I could consider myself successful. Dan Trepanier & Andre Smyth listened and followed my instructions so well and consistently, that after it became apparent that they were in the top 10 in all of Canada, everything just took off! People that seen Robinet play in the summer leagues over the years go crazy over his development. He used to average less than 5 points per game 3 years ago in our Flint, Michigan, summer League, to averaging over 35 this past summer; everyone wants to talk to me about my philosophy”
“He’s not just a basketball genius, a spectacular strength and conditioning guy, a good person to know, but he’s truly a role model,” Robinet said in a recent Documentary segment on Stewart. “He’s an inspirational person, who will do everything in his power to help you achieve your goals if you dedicate yourself accordingly. I remember Jamie tracking me down at a party because he wanted to tell me to my face to get my *** home because I had a game the next morning.”
Stewart’s well documented expertise on training techniques that improve agility, speed and power are backed up by innovative techniques, drills and results.
Players train for basketball speed by being pulled by bungee cords, aiding their acceleration. They run with cables pulling against them while curling into a jump shot. They run and dribble full speed with one and two balls behind carts that hold large mirrors, so they can adjust their form and make it more efficient on the spot. They do running drills in a large heated pool, sometimes on an incline. They practice vertical jumps on minitrampolines with cords pulling them downward. They wear 20-30lb weighted belts and sprint 31 flights of stairs 3 times per week in the summer in strength shoes (and that is on top of a grueling 8am – 5pm Academy day). They focus on the mechanics of the jump shot for 4 hours straight 2 times per week during the school year with weighted vests and weighted basketballs every time video recorded for Stewart to take home and analyze.
“Have you ever had a basketball workout for 3-4 hours without an official break? Come to the Academy and you will!” responds a laughing Robinet.
Then there are the rigorous weight workouts and nutritional programs. And now there’s the numerous inquires from some of the most important basketball people in Canada and the Midwest.
Stewart confidently proclaims, “The only way I’m leaving my family and community is if it’s a solid College situation. If that situation doesn’t evolve, my goal is to have a total of ten D1 players graduate from the Academy in the next 5-7 years before I retire. I’m here to stay.”