People plugged in to the basketball community here in BC were anxiously waiting where Suraj Gahir’s next step would be.
Ever since he announced he would go the prep school route after he won the 3A provincial championship in March, most people assumed he would be taking his talents out east like other players have done in the past.
However, Suraj is getting the best of both worlds with his commitment to The Westside Schools — a chance to play high level basketball, and be able to stay close to home near family and friends.
“A big thing was going to prep school and just being able to take a year to get stronger and sharpen my skills” said Gahir on why The Westside Schools made the perfect fit. “I knew a couple of people going there, and the coaches I’ve been training with for a little bit. Just being able to stay close to home for another year was huge.”
“He’s just an amazing basketball player” said James Blake, the program director at The Westside Schools who was formerly the coach at SFU. “What caught our eye was that he plays multiple positions. You can’t say that he’s a two guard, a wing or a point guard. You can just say he’s a basketball player who plays multiple positions, offensively and defensively. He’s an extreme talent.”
The Westside Schools — an independent school based in Yaletown — was just admitted to The Grind Session for the upcoming season. It’s a preparatory league with teams all across the United States, including Orangeville Prep out in Ontario. The goal of the league is to get players playing against the best North America has to offer on a consistent basis, and to gain as much exposure as possible in front of college coaches.
The number of players who go on to play college ball is “very high” according to Blake. Just this past NBA Draft six former Grind Session players were taken, including Canadian Nikeil Alexander-Walker and Ignas Brazdeikis.
“The grind session is a college pathway” Blake explained “and what college that comes down to is how hard they’re going to work and how much exposure they’re going to get. Hopefully they catch one of those assistant coaches eyes.”
“It’s really exciting,” said Suraj on joining this new program in Vancouver. “Even with Drive we’ve been playing against a lot of the top teams. We had the battle in Seattle, Las Vegas tournament. But being able to do it throughout the whole year instead of in high school playing against BC teams the whole year, playing against the best in the US and in front of more college coaches is exciting to me.”
For Suraj family and friends have always been very important to him. Watching him throughout his entire senior season and talking to the team, you get a sense of how close he was with his teammates and the family atmosphere that contributed to the team winning the 3A title.
And if you were on the floor on March 9th after the final buzzer sounded you would have seen an outpouring of emotion from not on Suraj, but from the North Delta community unlike anything I've experienced in my few years writing about sports.
“Suraj set the standard for work ethic, dedication, and leadership on our team for five years,” said Gary Sandhu, his assistant coach at North Delta. “He did all the things that require no talent. He was in the gym setting the tone and being a vocal leader. He is the type of player that coaches dream of, a once in a generation talent.”
In return, Suraj had nothing but good things to say about the support he got from high school coaches.
“They’ve always been supportive on any decision I’ve ever wanted to make” he said. “At first, they didn't really know what [The Westside Schools] was but after I explained it to them they were on board and they want me to keep doing it.”
Stay tuned for our feature looking more in depth at The Westside School’s Grind Session program, and congrats to Suraj on the next step in your basketball career!
Written by: Nick Bondi