"Nash. Steve Nash. From British Columbia."
"You mean South America?"
"No, coach. British Columbia...in Canada....
B.C. does not stand for Basketball Country. Ian Hyde-Lay, the coach at St. Michaels University School in Victoria, B.C., discovered as much four winters ago when he tried to find a college, any college, for a kid he believed—correctly, it turned out—could become one of the best point guards in America. Despite myriad phone calls and letters to more than 30 colleges all over the U.S., Hyde-Lay couldn't sell Steve Nash to anybody.
Victoria is located on the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island, a mere 20 miles from the U.S. mainland, yet it might as well have been Antarctica in the eyes of American recruiters. The rejection letters are still stashed in a shoebox in Nash's bedroom closet at home. The responses from Arizona, Duke, Indiana, Maryland, Miami, Pepperdine, Villanova and many others all begin with encouraging words but quickly dissolve into unfortunately or however or thank you, but.... The University of Washington, just a short ferry ride from Victoria, didn't even send a reply. Instead the Huskies recruited a junior college guard who these days is playing pickup ball at a Minnesota prison. "The lack of response hurt me, because I thought I was good enough that people would come knocking on my door," says Nash, who nearly averaged a triple double (21.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 11.2 assists) his senior year in high school. "It was like I was trapped in an elevator and I'm screaming, but nobody could hear me."
Nash was the innocent victim of stereotype. "When you're at Pepperdine you get 300 letters a year [from players who might want to come to your school]," said former Wave coach Tom Asbury, who is now at Kansas State. "And for a white guard from Canada, you're probably not going to do a lot of follow-up."