Brissett, Joseph connect at Lake Forest Academy
Lake Forest Academy's Dejon Brissett (center) puts up a shot against the defense of Lake Forest's Ben Simpson (left) and Sam Downey Saturday. | David Banks~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 22, 2013 10:05AM
LAKE FOREST — Growing up in Toronto, Dejon Brissett and David Joseph didn’t know each other. Toronto is a city of more than 2.5 million people, after all.
When their families moved to the suburbs — Brissett’s to Mississauga, Joseph’s to Brampton — they were separated by 10 miles. Their paths still never crossed.
It wasn’t until Brissett and Joseph landed at Lake Forest Academy last summer that they learned about their similar backgrounds and reasons for coming to the United States.
“I was interested in the opportunity,” said Brissett, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard. “There are coaches everywhere. I was aware of that.”
Joseph, a 6-3 freshman power forward, added: “The lifestyle of a student is perfect (in America). Academics were there, sports were there. It’s much harder to get scholarships in Canada.”
Initially discovered on a scouting trip by former Caxys football coach Ted Stewart, Brissett was recruited to play football and basketball. A wide receiver last fall, he developed into the Caxys’ most reliable scorer the last month of the basketball season, averaging 17.8 points per game over the team’s final five games. Joseph is the younger brother of Faith Ekakitie, a 2012 Lake Forest Academy graduate who now plays football at Iowa.
Boys basketball coach Matt Vaughn said Brissett and Joseph are examples of a trend where young Canadian basketball players are migrating to the United States.
“They want to get here earlier,” Vaughn said. “The AAU system is not as strong (in Canada), there’s not as much competition during the season. Academically, the schools are not as strong.”
Brissett and Joseph said the success of recent graduates such as Ekakitie and Dylan Ennis appeals to them. Ennis, a 6-2 point guard who graduated from Lake Forest Academy in 2011 and landed a scholarship at Rice. He left for Villanova after his freshman year, and he is sitting out this season as a transfer.
“When I heard that guys came out and went to play basketball in college, I was like ‘OK, this will be a good place for me,’ ” Brissett said. “I made the transition.”
It’s starting to pay dividends for the Caxys on the basketball court. In their final game of the season against Lake Forest High School Saturday, Brissett and Joseph were the team’s best players. Joseph gobbled up rebounds (seven for the game) while Brissett led the fast break, at one point scoring seven straight points in the fourth quarter. He finished with a team-high 16.
Lake Forest Academy lost the game 49-41, ending its season at 13-10. Brissett and Joseph played against one Division I recruit, Scouts senior Sam Downey (Yale), and another, sophomore Even Boudreaux, who has received two offers from Northwestern and Boston College.
“I like the challenge. I want to prove to them I can compete,” Joseph said.
Brissett added: “Back home, they play for fun. Here, everyone is hungry.”