Kyle Bursey spends every day he can at the basketball court.
When the 15-year-old from Grand Falls-Windsor isn’t getting upwards to 240 shots up a day with his dad Shawn acting as a rebounder, he’s at the local outdoor court with his friends or taking part in a local scrimmage at the high school.
“The game is about repetition and it is always good to get shots up,” said Kyle.
He loves it.
Bursey’s basketball story starts with a boy and a hoop.
His first target was the Little Tikes’ hoop in the basement of the family’s home.
Here he learned the art of dribbling, and the technique for right and left-handed layups.
Then came the Steve Nash youth league when he was just five.
Kyle was set on the baskeball path by his father
"I've always loved it and I wanted him to love it," said the elder Bursey, who is called ‘Jordan’ by his offspring.
Dad his wish.
Kyle recently decided to hang up the hockey skates and put away the baseball glove, in favour of focusing solely on basketball.
This year was probably the best Kyle ever had on the court.
To call the Burseys a basketball family might be an understatement.
During the Toronto Raptors championship run this year, the family flew flags and recorded every game.
Shawn still plays the game and rebounds for Kyle when the teen wants to work on his game.
They’ll still play one-on-one from time to time, but Kyle has yet to conquer his father on a consistent basis.
Melissa Bursey, the family’s matriarch, figures she’s watched Kawhi Leonard send the Philadelphia 76ers home in Game 7 of the NBA eastern conference semi-finals at least 10 times.
She still laments the early morning notification that flashed on her cell phone screen informing her of Leonard’s imminent departure from the Toronto Raptors.
Kyle and his younger sister Allison have also begun playing one-on-one. He wins now, sometimes swatting his baby sis in a sports rite of passage. Give it a couple of years, though. The younger sibling usually always catches up eventually.
The slinky five-foot-eight-inch guard made his high school team at Exploits Valley High in his Grade 10 year, coming up just short in the AAA provincial final and winning a Grade 11 NLBA championship.
He signed up for the the NLBA Elite Training Academy. The five weekend-long sessions through the year allowed the point guard to enhance his skills and become more well known in basketball circles.
He was also pegged to attend a basketball camp hosted by the province's most famous basketballer, Carl English.
The work is paying off.
In June he was named to the province’s under-16 team and went to the SLAM CAMP Summer Challenge held in Montreal, Que. June 29-30.
He had been at the tournament before, as part of a contingent from NL West, an elite program based out of Corner Brook.
However, this was the provincial team and that carried a certain level of significance with it.
“I wasn’t expecting to make the team at all,” Kyle told The Central Voice.
On the court Kyle uses his vision to get the ball to his teammates where they want it and when they want it. He sometimes passes up open shots to throw to his peers.
When he sees a lane to the basket, Kyle can drive with either his left or right hand — a skill his father made sure to instill in him — and finish through contact.
Still, his experience in Montreal opened his eyes to where he needs to get to in the future.
“I know I have to be more aggressive and learn how to handle ball pressure better.”
Shawn and Melissa were in the stands for the Montreal trip. They say they saw Kyle become a more confident player.
The young basketballer hopes to prove there are quality players in central Newfoundland.
“There is talent here and I would like to show it,” he said.