Tuesday, March 8, 2011 | 2:10 a.m.
In the Findlay Prep basketball offices on the Henderson International School campus, the first thing to catch your eyes is a trio of framed jerseys along the back wall.
Next year, a fourth will be added.
The three currently hanging are the McDonald's All-American jerseys of former Pilots Avery Bradley, Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson.
Senior Myck Kabongo takes pride in his going up on that wall, but he takes just as much pride in the fact that he'll be the third Canadian up there.
"We've all shown kids from Canada that there is hope and one day you can be a McDonald's All-American or go to a Division-I school," Kabongo said late last week after being honored at a local McDonald's restaurant. "It shows that we're taking strides and getting better as a country.
"It's a hockey country and it always will be, but other countries play well in other sports, too, and so can we."
The 34th annual McDonald's All-American game will air live on ESPN at 7 p.m. on March 30 from Chicago's United Center.
Kabongo transferred to Findlay Prep for his senior season after making a name for himself at St. Benedict's in New Jersey. Next season, he's hoping that Joseph and Thompson stick around for their sophomore seasons at Texas so that he can join them. Kabongo has been firmly committed to Longhorns coach Rick Barnes since his sophomore year.
The Canadian flavor on this year's McDonald's rosters is heavier than in previous years. Also teaming up on the West team will be Khem Birch of Notre Dame (Mass.) Prep and Kyle Wiltjer from Jesuit (Ore.).
It's a growing trend, as more players such as Kabongo are playing their high school ball in the United States now to gain better exposure from schools.
Kabongo helped lead the Pilots to a 28-2 record in the regular season, and the team is now biding its time before heading to Washington, D.C., next month for the ESPN Rise National High School Invitational. There, four-year-old program will attempt to claim its third consecutive national title.
On the season, Kabongo is averaging 17.1 points, six assists and 5.3 rebounds per game.
"I just wanted to win (upon coming to Findlay)," he said. "People that win get acknowledged with things like this. My high school résumé speaks for itself. Before I came here, I was a winner at St. Benedict's, and I was a winner here, thankfully."
"I'm blessed. Anybody could have been in this position, and I'm just thankful I had the coaches to put me in a great position to be here. And great teammates. I play with great guys, one through 10."