Yo, did you hear about this 7’6″ basketball prodigy, Olivier Rioux? The Canada Basketball coach, Michael Meeks, first caught wind of him 7 years ago when he opened up a photo in his inbox. Rioux was at a kids basketball camp in Montreal, and in the pic, he was standing next to the then-Detroit Pistons and Canadian team center, Joel Anthony, who’s a towering 6’9″. Meeks was like “Whaaaat?! This kid is 9 years old?!”, and immediately got on the phones to find out more about him.
Olivier Rioux, Future NBA Player?
Fast forward to now, and Rioux has officially been recognized as the world’s tallest teenager by Guinness World Records at age 15 and 7’5″. If he played in the NBA, he’d be tied with Cleveland’s Tacko Fall as the tallest NBA player in the league. But for now, he’s playing for Quebec at the Canada Summer Games in Niagara Region, facing off against kids his own age, but nowhere near his size.
Meeks has been keeping an eye on Rioux’s progress and says he’s seen improvement in him even in just the past few weeks. However, being a super tall player comes with high expectations, and Meeks wants to focus on the little things like Rioux’s mobility, agility, and how he conceptualizes the game. Meeks says they’re in uncharted territories with Olivier, but they’re cautiously optimistic that he’s moving in the right direction.
Where did Olivier Rioux come from?
Rioux hails from Anjou, a borough in east Montreal, but he’s now in Florida attending IMG Academy, a school known for its superstar alumni, like Serena and Venus Williams. He says the first year away from home was good and that he was calling his parents almost every day. He’s also having a blast at the Games and has even taken in some of the boxing competition.
Rioux became an internet sensation at age 12 while playing at a tournament in Spain. He caught the eye of Golden State star, Steph Curry, who tweeted, “So many questions…”. Joey Mckitterick, who’s been coaching Rioux since he was 12 at Montreal’s AAU program Brookwood Elite, says he’s seen huge improvement in him this year, particularly as his growing has slowed, and his coordination is catching up. But most importantly, Rioux is loving the game, and that’s key since being super tall comes with huge expectations.
Mckitterick says part of his responsibility as a coach is being a buffer between Rioux and curious onlookers. Everywhere they travel, random strangers will come up to him and ask for a picture or want him to hold their baby. It’s even a challenge just getting through the airport on time because people are constantly stopping him. Mckitterick says nobody could ever put themselves in Rioux’s shoes, and that uniqueness makes it difficult to gauge where basketball might take him. But one thing’s for sure, every few months, Rioux is doing things quicker, better, and more confidently. It’s gonna be interesting to see where this kid’s journey takes him!
Can he make the NBA?
Well, we saw what happened with Robert Bobroczkyi – he was tall and could shoot. But he was also fragile and slow and never made it. Olivier has more of a chance because he is quicker and stronger, but we will see what happens in a few years!!