Hey everyone, what’s up? I’m Nick Stauskas, a 6’6” shooting guard from Mississauga, Ontario. I’m 17 years old and I go to St. Mark’s school in Southborough, MA.
This summer has definitely been one of my favorite summers ever. When I look back at it, it went by very quickly and it seems as if I didn’t do much, but I definitely got a lot done and had a lot of fun at the same time.
I came home from school on June 3rd and the first thing I wanted to do was get healthy! A minor knee injury kept me out from playing AAU ball the whole spring so I needed to get that fixed as soon as possible. I started going to physiotherapy 3 times a week and I started seeing results right away. By the time July came along my knee was feeling a lot better, but definitely not 100%. I was so anxious to finally get to play that it really didn’t matter to me whether I was perfectly healthy or not.
The first event I played at was the John Wall Breakout Camp in Philadelphia. I hadn’t played basketball competitively in about four months so I came in with an “I got nothing to lose mentality." I was kind of nervous before playing for the first time, but as soon as I got into my rhythm I was just happy to be back out there. After the first two days at the camp, people were showing me the write up’s about the camp and all of them were mentioning me as one of the top performers. That definitely helped my confidence in getting back into the swing of things. I ended up not playing the final day of the camp because I needed to get some rest for a tournament I had in Springfield the next day.
I was really excited to finally play in a tournament with Grassroots Canada. My body was pretty soar from playing at John Wall camp, but I was too excited to not play. My parents came out to Springfield and they hadn’t seen me play for a really long time so that added even more excitement and motivation for me. Our team played pretty well for the whole tournament, but we ended up losing in the semi finals. I wasn’t happy at all with the way I played individually. I had some good games, but also some bad ones. My main problem was that my body wasn’t in playing shape and I wasn’t performing to my full ability. My jump shot was flat and I was very sluggish.
Our next and last tournament of the summer was the Fab 48 in Vegas. I had 2 weeks after Springfield to get healthy and get in shape. Those two weeks were definitely very frustrating at times, but I felt I did a good job of getting my body prepared and being mentally ready for Vegas.
Coming into Vegas, I knew nothing was expected out of us. We were a team from Canada and were nowhere close to the talent level of other teams if you were to look at “rankings." I was our strongest player and was looked at to be a leader, and I was unranked and unknown by most people. After pool play we were 2-1 and advanced to the top division. Coming into every elimination game, I think everyone expected us to lose, but our team was playing well together and I think I did a good job of leading our guys. My favorite game of the tournament, as well as the year, was the game before the quarterfinals against Belmont Shore. Coming into the game, everyone was telling me they were one of the best AAU teams in the country and that they had three potential all Americans on their team. I was hearing a lot about this kid Katin Reinhardt who played on Belmont Shore and how he was highly ranked and recruited. I never try to have individual battles during games, but I had a chip on my shoulder coming into this game and wanted to show everyone I was the best player on the floor and ultimately lead my team to a win. The game was close to the very end, but we ended up beating them. I was excited about the win and also very happy about my own performance because I felt like I proved to everyone that I was the best player on the floor. I believe I finished with 30 points and 8 rebounds.
Our team ended up losing in the semi finals to the KC 76ers. I was so proud of everyone on our team for stepping up and coming as far as we did. We made it to the final 4 in one of the most competitive tournaments in the country and coming in we weren’t expected to be anywhere close to that! I think that says a lot about our guys! I was happy with how I played throughout the tournament and I think I proved a lot of people wrong.
I think the tournament in Vegas helped me a lot with my confidence because I was able to play against so many highly ranked kids. I know rankings aren’t always the most accurate, but I like to follow them and keep tabs of names. A lot of people are scared when it comes to playing against kids who have a lot of hype around them. I enjoy it! I look at it as an opportunity to prove myself. A lot of opportunities to play against the top players were taken away from me when I wasn’t invited to Pangos All American camp or NBA Top 100 Camp this summer, so I really tried to take advantage of my time in Vegas. I knew a lot of those kids were going to be there. I also think that not being invited to those camps was a good thing for me. I love using those camps as motivation whenever I don’t feel like working on my game. You can always get better at something!
After Vegas I only had two things left on my schedule for the summer. First, was an opportunity to play against Baylor University with the Canadian Jr National team. I was excited because I wanted to see what the competition was like at the next level. They were definitely a lot more physical than high school players and the game was a lot faster, but I thought I did a good job in competing with them. I finished the game with 27 points and 7 rebounds.
The last thing I had on my schedule for the summer was visiting Houston to spend some time with my good friend Maurice Evans of the Washington Wizards. Mo and I first met at NBA Top 100 Camp in 2010. He was a coach on my team and we developed a good relationship. When camp was finished, we exchanged numbers and agreed to stay in touch. From that point on he kind of took me under his wing and has been a mentor to me. He invited me to Houston so I could workout with him, ask questions and learn all about what it takes to be a professional basketball player. I spent 3 days at his house and the majority of the time we spent talking about all kinds of stuff. I learned that there is a lot that goes on behind what we see when we watch the NBA. The life of an NBA player is definitely not as easy as some people think! I really enjoyed my time with Mo and his family and am so grateful to have Mo as someone I can talk to about anything. Him and I will be staying in touch throughout the season and hopefully we will be able to meet up again next summer. Thanks for everything Mo!
That has pretty much been most of my summer! Other than that, I’ve spent a lot of time with family and friends as well as trying to get 100% healthy again. I’m away all year at school so whenever I’m at home I like to see everyone again. I’ve lost contact with a lot of friends because of my move to the U.S., but I have about 10 really good friends back home that have stuck with me through everything. I know I can count on these guys no matter what! I’ve also been able to spend a lot of time with my brother Peter, which has been great because I don’t get to see him often. Peter is 21 and studies at the University of Waterloo. Our school schedules make it tough for us to see each other a lot, but he is currently on a co-op term, so he is living at home again for now. He and I play a lot of basketball together in our backyard. He’s a good player and is probably more competitive than I am, so our games get heated a lot of the time, but I never let him beat me! He used to beat up on me all the time when we were younger and I HATED losing to him! A lot of my game comes from playing 1 on 1 against my brother and a lot of people don’t know that. My brother is ultimately one of my best friends and only wants the best for me. I am lucky to have him in my life!
That’s about it! It’s time for me to get back to school and start preparing for the high school season. I have a lot to work on before I get to Michigan in 2012! Thank you to everyone for reading. Hope you learned a little something new about me!
Below is part two of a three part interview Stauskas did with GoBlueWolverine.com explaining the genesis of his swagger. For parts one and three, check Stauskas' profile page here.