Newmarket resident Riley Melvin has taken a unique path to reach his basketball dreams.
Playing for a high school post-graduate program in Ohio, the local basketball star is still pursuing his goal of making it into university ball and turning his basketball passion into a profession.
It has not been an easy road for the 18-year-old, between injury and the impact of the pandemic on sports, but he said he is starting to find a role and excel at his new school.
“I’ve done a lot of the things I wanted to do,” he said. “Now, it’s just getting a scholarship.”
Melvin began his journey at age 12, when he said he saw the sport being played on television. He said he thought it looked “really cool,” and it moved him to start playing it at school.
After playing for a prep school in Orangeville, he went on to play three years at Dr. J.M. Denison Secondary School in Newmarket, in addition to rep basketball. He said the move was meant to get him more opportunities, and the town became an important part of his development.
“It’s been a huge part of my basketball growth,” he said. “Being in Newmarket was really important to me — being able to go places like the Magna Centre.”
But the pandemic hampered that development as sporting opportunities became fewer.
“My trainer and I would find gyms around me,” Melvin said. “(We) did a great job of just getting the work in ... We could keep my game sustained throughout that pandemic.”
A meniscus injury at the start of his senior year became a turning point, he said. With initial fears the injury was worse and could spell the end of his playing efforts, he had time to reflect and work on himself off the court.
“I was training a lot. I think I was overworking,” he said. “I was really overdoing myself and that was a much-needed break and gave me an opportunity to look at things beyond basketball — what I wanted to do with my life, what I wanted to be … It was a good opportunity for me to be a better leader as well for my teammates.”
After his senior year, SPIRE Institute in Ohio recruited him into its post-graduate program. He hopes after a season at the sports-focused academy, he can be recruited to play university basketball.
Although going pro is a dream, he is keeping his options open.
“I’d love to do that, but realistically, I’d like to find a place where I can get a great education and a school that wants me and loves me for the four years of my career,” he said. “I hope to go into coaching and start my own business, and find a way to give back to the game I love.”