Road to the NBA runs through OUA for the Scrubb brothers

Road to the NBA runs through OUA for the Scrubb brothers

By: Victor Raso

Much has been written about the storied careers of brothers Phil and Thomas (Tommy) Scrubb, two of arguably the greatest basketball players in the history of Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).

But in case you've missed it, here's the long list of what they've accomplished together during their careers as members of the Carleton Ravens men's basketball team:

  • 10 CIS Championships
  • 6 OUA Championships
  • 3 CIS and OUA Player of the Year awards
  • 2 CIS and 3 OUA Defensive Player of the Year awards
  • 5 CIS All-Canadian selections
  • 7 OUA All-Star selections
  • 1 CIS Rookie of the Year award

As impressive as that list may be, what the two brothers from Richmond, B.C. have their eyes set on now is even more impressive; becoming the first players in OUA and CIS history to make an NBA regular season roster.

"I think the level of basketball in the OUA and CIS is improving and hopefully more and more guys will get an opportunity to get on an NBA roster," said Phil Scrubb.

Although the road they seek is one that has never been travelled before, their time as student-athletes at Carleton University has helped to prepare them for what lies ahead.

Tommy, who is currently in the midst of getting his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Carleton (and is one-year older than Phil), spoke highly of his time at Carleton and how taking to the court with the Ravens the past five seasons has prepared him to take the next step.

"I think that being a part of the Carleton program really prepares you for whatever you decide to pursue after your career," said Tommy Scrubb.

"I was really challenged in terms of addressing my weaknesses both on and off the court. The amount of time we put into basketball at Carleton is probably as much as anywhere in the world so I think wherever I end up playing it will not be a situation in which I will have to drastically change my work habits," Tommy said.

Phil echoed the sentiments of his older brother when asked about the impact of playing basketball at Carleton.

"My time at Carleton has helped a lot in preparing me for professional basketball and my life after," said Phil Scrubb.  "The focus on being hard working and selfless has helped me grow as a person and a basketball player."

If there will ever be a time to lean on their experiences and lessons learned playing basketball at Carleton, the time is now.

The road to cracking an NBA roster, which is comprised of 15 players, is as competitive and difficult as any major sporting league in the world. As a result of playing five years of university basketball, both Tommy and Phil will have to try and make the NBA as free agents, since their draft year (4th year of eligibility) has come and passed.

To prepare for this journey, the brothers have been training daily with their former teammates at Carleton, as well as having recently returned from a week in California where they trained alongside other NBA prospects with a professional skills trainer.

On June 11th and 12th both brothers attended the Toronto Raptors Free-Agent Mini Camp and although they received high praises from the Raptors Director of Scouting, Dan Tolzman, both Phil and Tommy felt that although they showed well, they could've shown more.

"I thought I improved over the two days but still didn't play my best," Tommy said. "I wasn't aggressive or assertive enough and didn't really try to do too much. It was my first time in that kind of setting and I did not approach it the right way. I need to try to make more of an impact instead of just trying to fit in."

Both brothers agreed there were some adjustments that needed to be made but that they will only benefit from this experience as the summer progresses.

"At first it was a little tough to adjust to the pace of play. But once I got used to it I think I was able to compete with those guys," Phil said.

Moving on from the tryout with the Raptors, the brothers have a long and competitive summer ahead of them. While Tommy is unsure of his next NBA stop, Phil's schedule is filling up quickly.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Phil will have tryouts with the Indiana Pacers and the Dallas Mavericks, which will be followed by playing in both the Orlando and Las Vegas NBA Summer Leagues.

Both young men are also hopeful that they will get the opportunity to represent Canada this summer at either the upcoming Pan-Am Games or the FIBA America's qualifying tournament at the end of August.  

With the long and unprecedented path to the NBA that lies ahead for the Scrubb brothers, they will rely on the hard work, determination and confidence that they gained from their time as OUA student-athletes at Carleton University to propel them into the future.

Although the odds are stacked against them, there is one thing both of have made very clear - it's going to take time, and it won't be easy, but Phil and Tommy Scrubb believe they can play in the NBA.

"I've always, since I was young, wanted a chance to play in the NBA. It might take some time, but it is definitely still a goal of mine," Phil said.

Victor Raso was a teammate of Phil and Thomas Scrubb with the Carleton Ravens for the past two seasons.  The two-time CIS national champion is currently working with Ontario University Athletics as the Sport Administrative Assistant and will be returning to Carleton in the Fall to complete his MBA.