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12-year-old Montrealer, 6’10”, catches the eyes of NBA players

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A grinning Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray posed for a selfie at last weekend’s regional finals for the Jr. NBA world championship in St. Catharines, Ont., with a 12-year-old boy.

Murray requested the selfie, not the other way around.

Why? Because standing a sky-high six-foot-10, Olivier Rioux towers over the Canadian NBA player by seven inches.

The pre-teen from Anjou, a borough in east Montreal, became an unsuspecting internet star over the weekend when a video of a game he’d played against fellow 12-year-olds in Spain went viral.

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Playing on eight-foot nets against players that looked like toddlers by comparison, Rioux thoroughly dominated.

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Rioux stood like a maypole in the centre of the pre-game huddle, his teammates dancing around him. He swatted away shots with ease. He dunked without leaving his feet. He scored backwards over his head.

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The video has over 700,000 views, and caught the eye of a couple of NBA stars.

Steph Curry tweeted: “So many questions…..”

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Joel Embiid enjoyed Rioux talking at his opponents, tweeting: “He has the nerves, the audacity to talk (trash) too lmao”

Rioux’s father Jean-François is quick to point out the video is an anomaly. Olivier normally plays under-14 basketball for the Tornades de Longueuil, an AAA program in Longueuil, Que., and plays all season on 10-foot rims

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“Everybody thinks he plays with low nets, with very small people all year long, and that’s not the case,” Jean-François said.

Rioux was invited by a French team, the Frenchy Phenoms, to play an international under-12 tournament in La Roda, Spain, which is where the viral video was shot.

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Rioux, who’s just two inches shy of the Toronto Raptors’ tallest players — Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira are all seven feet — has been playing basketball since he was five, his dad said.

Jean-François, who was a volleyball player, knew even as a toddler that Olivier would be tall. He’s grown at the rate of about 10 centimetres a year, and doctors have told the family he hasn’t stopped.

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Jean-François is 6-8, while Rioux’s mother Anne Gariepy is 6-1. Rioux’s older brother Emile, who is 15 and six foot nine, also plays basketball.

Shaquille O’Neal, by comparison, was 5-10 at Rioux’s age, but would grow nearly a foot time he turned 16.

In Ohio, 16-year-old Robert Bobroczky stands seven foot seven, which is three inches taller than the NBA’s two tallest players this past season: Detroit centre Boban Marjanovic, and New York’s Kristaps Porzingis. Bobroczky is a Romanian whose parents sent him abroad to attend school and play basketball.

The average height of a 12-year-old boy is four-foot-10, and Jean-François laughed about what it takes to keep his Stretch Armstrong son fed: “Normal breakfast would be two big cereal bowls, two toasts, yogurt, bananas.”

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Rioux, who is a Cleveland Cavaliers fan and whose favourite player is LeBron James, doesn’t mind the attention he’s received over the last few days.

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“He finds it very different than before,” his dad said. “But he’s happy about it.”

Jean-François, meanwhile, has been fielding numerous requests from people looking to get involved with his son.

“A lot. It’s like I’m refusing a lot of invitations on Facebook, and things like that. Yeah yeah yeah. It’s like easily 50 (people),” he said.

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“Coaches, agents, brand agents, all the things that people would like Olivier to be involved, scholarships. I have to be careful of who I talk with, and how I do. That’s what I’m learning.”

After leading Chenier Elementary School to numerous titles, Rioux will attend Saint-Jean-Vianney High School, which his dad said has a strong basketball program, in the fall.

The Breakdown 416, in the boy’s under-14 division, and the Welland Warriors in the girls U14 division, qualified from last weekend’s regional tournament for the world championships in Orlando.

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