(Niagra) Quebec Olivier Rio, the world’s tallest teenager, pursues his basketball dream at the Canadian Games.
Posted on August 12
Olivier Rio arrived with a huge exclamation point on Michael Mix’s radar when the Canadian basketball coach opened a picture in his email inbox seven years ago.
Rio was attending a kids’ basketball camp in Montreal and posed for a photo alongside the Detroit Pistons and Canada Team Center Joel Anthony, who was 6-foot-1.
“Lee Ron Young (National Development Director of Canadian Basketball) sent this picture of Olivier and Joel, and Olivier is the same height, within an inch. “This kid is nine years old,” said Mix.
“I immediately called the phone to find out who he was, what was happening and what we could do to help him.”
Over the ensuing years, Rioux has grown to a height of now 2.1 meters. He can dunk in an NBA basket just barely leaving his feet.
Guinness World Records defines him as the world’s tallest teenager when he was 15 years old and was seven and a half feet tall. If he were to play in the NBA today, he would be tied with Cleveland Taco Fall as the league’s best player.
But Rio is playing for Quebec at this week’s Canadian Summer Games in Niagara, Ontario, with a junior his age, albeit not close to his height.
Mix, who attends the Games to monitor young Canadian players, said he has seen improvements in Rio even in recent weeks, but cautioned that, like any tall player, long-term work is required.
“People see his size and their expectations are very high,” Meeks said. For me, it’s the little things like his movement and agility, how he moves, how he perceives the game – how much fun does he have playing?
“It is significant because we are in uncharted territory with Oliver, no one has ever been this tall. So we are cautiously optimistic that he is heading in the right direction.”
Ryo, from Anjou, will start his tenth journeye The year is in the fall in Bradenton, Florida. A year ago, he transferred to IMG Academy, a school that has tennis star sisters Serena and Venus Williams among its alumni.
“It was good,” Rio said of his first year away from home. I called my dad almost every day, the school year went well, and my grades were good.
“In Montreal, I used to go to school for at least eight hours every day. Now I go to school for three hours and train in the afternoon, it’s different,” he added, laughing in a deep voice.
He enjoys games, he says, and has attended some boxing competitions.
Rio was 5’2 inches in kindergarten. Her father Jean-Francois is 6’8″ and her mother is Anne 6’2″.
He became an internet star at the age of 12 while playing in a tournament in Spain. It caught the attention of Golden State star Steve Curry, who tweeted, “So many questions…”
Jamal Murray posed for a photo with her that summer. He was already towering above the Denver Nuggets star guard.
Joey McKittrick, who has been coaching Rio since the age of 12 through the elite Brookwood AAU program in Montreal, agrees with Mix that he has seen tremendous progress in Rio this year, not least because his growth has slowed and his coordination is catching up.
But perhaps most importantly, Rioux loves the game, which is essential because the expectations are huge when you’re tall.
“I think you can see this year that he’s been enjoying everything, basketball, traveling, all that. He’s definitely falling in love with the sport,” McKittrick said.
McKitrick said that part of his responsibility as Rowe’s coach is to serve as a buffer between the teen and the curious onlookers.
When we travel, we may be sitting in the lobby of a hotel and strangers will come in and ask for a picture. It is even difficult to cross the airport to catch a flight on time because people are constantly stopping by. “Can I take a picture of you? Can you hold my baby? Can you do this, can you do that?”
“When I met our players at the end of the year. I said, ‘I can’t imagine being in your shoes. But the best I can do is guide and help you and be there for you if you need anything, because I can’t put myself in your shoes. Nobody can.’ ”
This uniqueness makes it difficult to assess where basketball could take him.
“When you see Olivier, every three to six months, he’s doing things faster, stronger, more balanced, he has more agility, his playing style improves, his understanding of the game improves,” Meeks said. This is important, because taller players are usually a little slower (to evolve), and it moves at the right pace for a very tall player.
“Usually guys who stop growing at about 6’3″ or 6’4″, you might start to see exactly what they’re going to be by the time they turn 16. But those great guys, it takes 24 or 25 years for all of that to be put into place. Something in its rightful place.”
Rio, who enjoys studying the games of Giannis Antikonmo and Nikola Jokic, both 6’11”, fit well at his height and never had any major physical issues like the knee pain that can come with rapid growth.
Among other NBA giants, George Morrissan is listed as the tallest position ever at 7’7″. Yao Ming and Shawn Bradley were 7’6 inches tall.