NORTHSTAR PREPARATORY INSTITUTE

2020/21 COACHING STAFF

DARON RACHAR LEONARD
Executive Director
Prep Boys Head Coach
As a player and competitor, Daron is accomplished in ways that very few can claim, winning multiple championships at every level. Attending A.B. Lucas HS in London, ON, he led the Vikings to City Championships, SWOSSA championships, and OFSAA provincials every year of his 3 year varsity career, with a top finish of 7th place in Ontario at the “AAAA” level. He subsequently trained at Laurinburg Prep (Laurinburg, NC), winning the unofficial national championship against Hargrave Military Academy (FL) at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.

In his collegiate career, Daron was known as a prolific scorer. He briefly competed for his hometown Western Mustangs prior to competing at the highest level in the country with the Carleton Ravens, winning multiple national titles. While developing in an environment driven by competition and constructive conflict led by the coaching staff of Dave Smart, widely considered the most successful coach in the history of Canadian basketball, Daron was exposed to a philosophy and culture that challenges you to exist outside of your comfort zones. The personal accolades and awards - including conference all-star, multiple games of 30+ points, and several tournament all-star awards (Raptors Invitational, House-Laughton Classic, Naismith Classic) - are secondary to the lessons taken away from his time with the Ravens. Daron briefly played overseas prior to suffering a career-ending knee injury, but was able to achieve the personal goal of playing professionally in quality leagues (Swiss LNA, Italy Serie A) as a Canadian import. 

Upon returning to the game in his capacity as a coach, Daron specialized in player development and coordinated defensive schemes for the H.B. Beal Raiders (London, ON), which was (and still is) a perennial contender at the provincial level in Ontario. Working with renowned coaches Tony Marcotullio (Fanshawe College) and Angelo Provenzano (London Basketball Academy), the Raiders won the City Championship, SWOSSA qualifiers and ranked top 10 in the “AAAA” division in every year, with the highest ranking of #4 in the province behind Eastern Commerce (Toronto), Henry Carr (Toronto) and Milliken Mills (Markham) in 2009. During his time at Beal, Daron had the opportunity to be involved in the development of multiple future NCAA and CIS players.

When his personal life brought him to Winnipeg, MB, Daron again found a passion for the game in player development, this time working with the University of Winnipeg Wesmen, and helping them to become the first Wesmen team in the CIS era to earn a playoff berth. He worked primarily with the players who would become the programs top players, and Conference All-Stars.

Eager to bring his own philosophy and culture to forefront of a program, Daron established the Northstar Sports Foundation, a non-profit organization primarily for inner-city youth with a focus on social and athletic development for post-secondary preparation. As the program has grown, it has opened the door for additional programming, including a training academy and AAU program. This has all led to Northstar Preparatory Institute, and pioneering the first basketball program of its kind in the province of Manitoba. Buoyed by the established development structure and a proven track record of teaching fundamentals as well as pushing established amateur talent to the professional level, Daron continues to break barriers and is quickly establishing Northstar as a top tier program in North America.

COREY BOSWELL
Prep Boys Associate Coach
American Liaison

Corey grew up in Detroit, MI, attending Ferndale H.S. winning regional and district championships in Oakland County Class A prior to attending the University of Windsor. Playing for the Lancers under renowned coach Chris Oliver (President, Basketball Immersion), Corey got directly into coaching as an assistant with Windsor and with Detroit Family, one of the original AAU powerhouses in the United States.

Corey is well known for his personable demeanour, his vast network and his highly intellectual approach to the game from both a training and development perspective and with in-game situations. With Detroit Family, Corey led the 15U program to an EYBL championship in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since. With one of the most impressive track records of youth coaching in America, Corey has also worked with Powerhouse Hoops (UAA) where he led the 15U to the championship game prior to starting Arizona Elite (previously known under a different name) under the Nike banner. Through Corey’s success and rising notoriety, he was asked to coach the vaunted Team Strive for Greatness 15U with such talent as Bronny James, Dior Johnson, Skyy Clark, Jahzaire Jackson among many others.

 

Most recently, Corey has been focused on the development of his AEBC program, taking an underdog squad to a bronze medal finish in the West 8 MADE circuit, and earning a spot in Nike’s Peach Jam in the program’s first year of MADE competition. He is also the head coach of Vegas Elite’s 16U program, one of the top EYBL teams in America.

 

Corey joins Northstar as an associate coach with intimate knowledge of the American system, helping our players navigate not only the recruitment process, but providing valuable experience and feedback to our athletes from the highest levels of youth basketball. He is an excellent role model for young players, and brings a presence that commands loyalty, respect and admiration.

JEFF GIOVANATTI
Prep Boys Associate Coach
Circuit Program Head Coach

Jeff is a very decorated and respected coach in many circles. Originally from Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Jeff originally played for Algoma University and was an OCAA 1st Team Allstar. He eventually took his talents south to Western University in London, ON, to play for the Mustangs where he was an Academic All-Canadian, and attended teacher’s college. After graduating, Jeff returned to Sault Ste. Marie to pursue his teaching career and began to build his extremely impressive coaching resume:

 

High School & AAU Coaching Experience

  • Head Coach, Korah Colts - 2003-2016

  • Multiple Northern Ontario Championships & OFSAA appearances

  • Co-Founder of the Steel City Slam Basketball Club (Est. 2013)

  • Coached in 2018 Signature Camp (NCAA Sanctioned)

  • Coached in 2018 Signature All-Canadian Game (RJ Barrett & Luguentz Dort)

Team Ontario

  • Head Coach - 2008, 2010-2015

  • Competed in Argentina (2010) & Brazil (2011)

  • 5x National Champion & 2x Silver Medalist (39-3 Record)

  • TIDP, BDP and MDP Coach (Nike Sponsored Programming)

  • 2018 U-17 Cadet National Team Team Manager (Team participated in the NBA America's Team Camp in Mexico and the World Championships in Argentina)

Canada Basketball

  • Coach - Centre for Performance

  • Junior Academy Guest Coach

  • Collaborations w/ NBA Skill Trainers Ganon Baker (2008) and Alan Stein (2010)

  • 2018 U17 Cadet National Team Team Manager

 

Needless to say, Jeff has solidified himself as a major contributor to Canadian basketball, and as an especially passionate advocate and representative of Northern Ontario; his Steel City Slam program has consistently competed at the highest levels in the province as Jeff has been nurturing northern Ontario talent with development and exposure opportunities. He’s also been an avid supported of his community by hosting events such as the Guy Vetrie Invitational tournament, frequently bringing in high level talent for very competitive weekends of basketball. Through his time coaching, Jeff has worked with players such as Cory Joseph, Anthony Bennett, Kevin Pangos, Nik Stauskas, Nick Lewis, RJ Barrett, Chris Egi, Abu Kigab, Andrew Nembhard and MANY others.

As a trailblazer in a small market, Jeff joins Northstar not only as an associate coach with the prep team, but as the Head Coach for our new Northstar Circuit Program, breaking new barriers and providing unprecedented opportunity to talented athletes primarily scattered throughout Manitoba and Northern Ontario. As Jeff pioneers the Circuit Program in his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, he has this to say about this new initiative:

 

"I'm looking forward to working with Daron to provide an environment for players to develop and reach their goal(s) within the sport. I think this will be a great opportunity for kids in Sault Ste. Marie and also the North to bring together student-athletes with similar aspirations. As the old adage goes 'Iron sharpens Iron'. Personally, I'm excited to learn with and from Daron as well. As former teammates at Western University, its going to be a great opportunity to share philosophies and resources while putting together a competitive framework for our athletes. Collaborating with Daron and NPI to provide training and competitive pathways for student-athletes that are differentiated and 'athlete centered' will only maximize player development and in turn enhance opportunities for these student-athletes to pursue scholarship opportunities at post-secondary institutions across Canada as well as in the United States."

 

Jeff’s credentials speak for themselves, and when combined with his technical knowledge and action-based philosophy on and off the court, Jeff brings so much more to the program than coaching; he brings a reinforcement of the culture, additional credibility to the network, and outstanding leadership.

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2020/21 SUPPORT STAFF

SHAUN CROSS
Youth Outreach Coordinator
Community Relations
Shaun starred at both Seneca College in North York, ON, and the University of Winnipeg, and basketball has created opportunities for him to see many parts of Canada and the United States he may not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience. Shaun is a big believer of using the tools you have to get you where you want to be, which is a lesson he passes forward through countless hours of volunteering in coaching high school basketball as well as club track and field. NPI has given him the opportunity to open doors for athletes that would have otherwise been closed. He believes strongly in the community based program with philosophies to encourage, teach and guide athletes in the right direction.
Starting this fall, Shaun will be overseeing the execution of our collaborative programs with Jr. NBA, WMBA and Peg City that provide Winnipeg's youth an opportunity for hands-on training with our Northstar athletes at multiple locations across the city. For registration in these programs, please see the links available on our home page or visit: www.wmba.ca
DAVID NEPON
Assistant Coach

Born and raised in Winnipeg, David played basketball has had a passion for basketball since he began playing at the age of 5, running the point in the WNBA for 13 years. As he developed, he spent time competing with the Junior Bisons at the University of Manitoba.

 

David's ambitions as a player led him to play his High School basketball at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate, where he was awarded Athlete of the Year, and later for College Wesmen at the University of Winnipeg. He has also been a prominent figure as both a player, and now as a coach for Team Canada's teams for the Maccabi Games.

His experiences with basketball encouraged him to study Kinesiology at the University of Winnipeg, following that up by attending University of Manitoba where he received his Bachelor's Degree in Education, which has resulted in his position as a P.E. teacher at several different schools in Winnipeg.

 

In addition to his formal education, David has shaped himself as an NCCP certified coach with a significant amount of practical experience as an Assistant Coach with the University of Winnipeg (2007), and as the Head Coach of the U of W Collegiate, St. Johns Ravenscourt and St Norbert High School teams.

 

Most recently, David was appointed in the role of Athletic Director at Our Lady of Victory middle school and will be assisting with shooting and video practices this year.

STEVEN WESLEY
Assistant Coach

Originally from Spokane, WA, Steven was a 3-time district all-star for Medical Lake HS and was originally was committed to Washington State University. The dream was stopped short by injuries and surgeries that prevented him from fulfilling a promising Division 1 career.

 

Instead, after a couple of JUCO stops, Steven was brought to Manitoba and excelled locally at the University of Winnipeg. It was there that Steven and Daron developed a mutual respect and forged a bond like brothers, helping to lead U of W to their first playoff appearance in the CIS era. Steven was awarded Canada West First-team honours and moved on to play professionally in several countries.

Steven is intrinsically linked to the development of Northstar; it is because of the training programs that he and Daron developed and executed at community centres and YMCA's around Winnipeg that caused the community to begin to take interest and follow along with the programs.

 

Steven continues to play professionally to this day and remains Daron's lead assistant during his own off-seasons. Exhibiting intensity, confidence and a championship-driven mentality, Steven's personal success has proven the value of the program.

WINNIPEG, MB, CANADA

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