One of the founding fathers of grassroots basketball in Canada, Coach Ro Russell, started AAU in 1989 and has since coached prominent Canadian players such as Cory Joseph, Dwight Powell, Nik Stauskas, Tristan Thompson, and Andrew Wiggins, among others. With the AAU program Grassroots Elite Canada, he coached the first Canadian 17U team to be ranked #1 in 2008 by going 40-3 for the season and winning 10 events in North America. Coach Ro has produced 498 players at the NCAA Division I level. 10 have gone on to play in the NBA and many more in the pipeline have the potential to do so, including 2023 five-star prospect Elijah Fisher.
Coach Ro identified 2022 forward Romad Dean as a budding talent down in The Bahamas, and brought him to Canada to help hone his skills and develop as a player. Already holding numerous offers from mid-major and high-major programs, Dean has relished the opportunity to gain national exposure and play in live events, recently performing as one of Pro Insight’s standouts at the 2021 Flyin’ To The Hoop Top Gun Showcase in Ohio, last month.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Dean discusses his background, his development with Crestwood Prep, how he wants to leave a legacy, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Romad Dean, from Freeport, Bahamas:
Pro Insight: Talk a bit about your background.
Romad Dean: My name is Romad Dean. I'm from The Bahamas. I came to Canada like two years ago to finish off my high school years.
PI: Prior to Crestwood Prep, where were you playing?
RD: I was playing for Tabernacle Baptist Christian Academy back home in Freeport, Bahamas.
PI: How has training been during the pandemic?
RD: I had a good opportunity to get in a private gym with my trainer and he was able to work with me on my ball handling and on my jump shots and all that type of stuff.
PI: You recently balled out at the Flyin’ To The Hoop Top Gun Showcase, was this your first live competition during COVID?
RD: Yeah, it was my first competition since being in a pandemic, so that was kind of hard for me to run up and down because I really wasn't in shape. After the first few games, I got into shape and I got in my groove and I started to play like my old self and even better.
PI: Previously, you played at the 2019 U17 Centrobasket — how was playing for the Bahamas in international competition?
RD: It is really great to represent my country as I've always wanted to represent my country as a little kid and I had the chance to do it and I showed out and I made my country proud. It’s a great opportunity to play against other players from around the world.
PI: What are some of your biggest interests outside of basketball?
RD: My biggest interest outside of basketball is I’m really good with math. I’ve always wanted to be an architect.
PI: What apps would you say you're on the most?
RD: Some of the apps I use the most are Snapchat and Instagram.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
RD: Some of my favorite music artists are NBA YoungBoy and Lil Baby. Those are the two that I listen to the most.
PI: PlayStation or Xbox?
PI: For those who don’t know, can you describe your game a little bit?
RD: People would describe my game as a very good rebounder. There was a game where I had about 55 rebounds in one game and 22 points. Every game I am in, I always want to make sure that I got at least 15 rebounds. That’s not all, another thing I can do is I can make plays — be a playmaker, go and get buckets, score for my team, whatever it needs me to do.
PI: Besides rebounding, what is another strength in your game?
RD: I always play hard. Back then, I never used to talk, but now I talk a lot on the court and make sure that everyone is doing what they gotta do — so, like me talking to my teammates and bringing them up.
PI: What are you trying to improve in your game?
RD: Something that I'm trying to improve in my game right now is my ball handling. I don’t have much confidence in my ball handling and I'm trying to get the confidence. That's what I'm working on each and every day to get my ball handling and skills right.
PI: Who do you model your game after and study on film?
RD: I try to model my game after Anthony Davis. I watch a lot of film on him.
PI: What’s the latest with your recruitment?
RD: My recruitment is going great. I recently got an offer from the University of Southern California and I’ve got interest from Baylor. I also have offers from Arizona State, Ole Miss, and Minnesota. I’ve got Creighton, Wyoming — I have lots more.
PI: How is the basketball culture in The Bahamas?
RD: The basketball culture is really great over there. We have a lot of talent over there, but like, there's not very much exposure over there to get the kids out and showcase their talents and stuff like that. So I had a great opportunity to come over and play AAU for Coach Ro, to play for Grassroots Elite and came to Atlanta and played in a tournament. He saw the potential in me and he wanted to offer me a scholarship to come to Canada [to play high school basketball].
PI: How would you define the word ‘success?’
RD: Success. I would say like, people are scared to fail, I don't think they are successful without failure. In order to have success, you need to fail and to learn from your mistakes.
PI: What do you personally feel you’ll need to accomplish in your career in order for you to become satisfied?
RD: In order to be satisfied, I want to buy my mom a new house. I got to make sure I don't want my mom to be working, because she has done so much for me.
PI: How would you describe yourself in just a few words?
RD: I would say I'm quiet. I'm hardworking.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
RD: I want to be remembered as a person who went over [to North America] and did great things. And I want to give back to people. I want to be the person who opened the doors up for my people from The Bahamas so they can have the opportunity that I have and be better — be better than me.
Watch the full interview with Romad, here