2011 OUA men's basketball preview
Source: OUA Communications
HAMILTON, Ont. - OUA basketball season is just around the corner, and we’re giving fans a small taste of what’s to come in 2011-12.
Since winning the CIS championship in 2008, the Brock Badgers
have failed to make the playoffs in the OUA West. Now that Coach
Brad Rootes has had the interim label removed from his position, he
intends to get Brock back on the national stage. “It’s
nice Brock has confidence in me to do the job,” says Rootes.
“We didn’t change much last year, but now I feel we can
put our imprint on the program.”
Among the key returning players is Didi Mukendi (St. Catharines, Ont.), who missed all of last season due to a strange combination of injury and illness. A former CIS rookie-of-the-year, Mukendi looks to be fully recovered and a return to his previous form will provide a big boost to the Badgers. “Didi has already surpassed where we thought he’d be,” comments Rootes. “It’s great to have him back, because it wasn’t just his talent but his leadership that we missed.”
Fifth-year point guard Andrew Kraus (Markham, Ont.) will finish his CIS career as a Badger. Arriving as a transfer for grad school, Kraus (14.4-PPG) stepped right into the Badger line-up and made a major impact.
Among the forwards, 6-5 Mark Gibson (Toronto) enters his senior year as a team leader. Limited by injuries last year, Gibson was a force when on the court and badly missed when out of the line-up. Rootes says keeping Gibson on the floor will be vital to Brock’s success. “Mark was having a breakout season when he got hurt, and he’s one of the most gifted scorers in the league.”
Post Brian Nahimana (London, Ont.) has made strides over his first two years, and at 6-9 is a legit big man in the CIS ranks. Rootes would like Nahimana to be a more consistent scorer and rebounder than he has shown so far. Andrew Ferguson (St. Catharines, Ont.) and Anto Raic (Welland, Ont.) are other forwards with experience.
There is some excitement at Brock over the new talent joining
the team this year. A trio of players with NCAA experience will be
suiting up and immediately spike the expectations of the Badger
faithful. Swingman Tshing Kasamba (St. Catharines, Ont.) was a
redshirt at Brock last year and should be familiar with the system.
“Tshing has freakish athleticism,” says Rootes, talking
about the local product, who has been fighting some nagging
injuries. “When he gets going he can fill up the stat
Also new is 6-7 Jameson Tipping (Orangeville, Ont.), who also sat out last season before deciding to enrol at Brock, while well travelled 6-10 post Theo Davis (Brampton, Ont.) was a late summer commitment for Coach Rootes. “We have added some length to our team,” says Rootes. “And that definitely adds a new dimension. So far the new additions have been very positive.”
Tipping, Davis, and Kasamba are all terrific athletes, and make Brock deeper and stronger than it has been since winning the national title.
While enthused about the new talent on campus, Rootes says building a contender takes time. “It’s going well, but our success will depend on how quickly the players gel on the court. You have to walk before you can run.”
Very aware of the three-year Badger playoff drought, the second-year coach says a return to the post-season is foremost in his mind. “We have some talent, but our league is just so tough. I’m sure every coach says the goal is to win the CIS championship, but if you don’t make the playoffs, you can’t reach that goal. I know we’ll be competitive.”
The Carleton Ravens returned to the top of the CIS men’s
basketball world last season with an 82-59 victory over the Trinity
Western Spartans in the championship game of the Final 8
It marked the seventh W.P. McGee Trophy in nine years for the Ravens, who had won the last five editions of the tournament in Halifax from 2003 to 2007, before adding another banner in 2009 in Ottawa.
The Ravens are now only one championship away from tying the historic record held by the Victoria Vikes, who won eight national titles, including seven straight (1979-1985, 1996). And their chances look good.
While the Ravens will be without the help of guard Mike Kenny,
who played his fifth season at Carleton last year, the core of the
championship team will be back in 2011-12.
Ravens forward and 2010-11 CIS Male Athlete of the Year, Tyson Hinz (Ottawa, Ont.), will be back for his third season at Carleton. Hinz finished eighth in the OUA with 17.1 points per game last season, thanks to his conference-leading 57.2 field-goal percentage, good for ninth best in the nation.
Also returning is last season’s CIS Rookie of the Year, Philip Scrubb (Richmond, B.C.). The Ravens guard was a dominating force on the court last year, averaging 13.1 points per game and leading his team in assists with 61.
Two-time OUA East Defensive Player of the Year, Cole Hobin
(Ashton, Ont.), will be back for his fifth and final season. The
guard grabbed a total of 85 rebounds last year, with 58 on the
defensive end. He led the Ravens in blocks and steals with 17 and
Guards Willy Manigat (Ottawa, Ont.) and Elliot Thompson (Fredericton, N.B.) are also returning for a fifth year.
If that wasn’t enough, the Ravens have added to their impressive lineup of talent with three new guards.
Justin Shaver (Ottawa, Ont.), a highly touted high school recruit, will don the Raven this season. He represented Canada over the summer at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championships in Latvia, along with Scrubb.
Guillaume Boucard (Montreal, Que.), last season’s MVP in the RSEQ men’s collegiate AAA basketball league, has also committed to Carleton along with Ryan Augustine (Toronto, Ont.) of Next Level Prep.
Four-time CIS Coach of the Year and six-time OUA East Coach of the Year, Dave Smart, will lead the Ravens in their drive for eight titles. He brings with him his combined regular and postseason record of 315 wins and only 30 losses.
The CIS Final 8 Tournament will be in Halifax yet again this season, the spot that has proven to be good to the Ravens program. With last year’s performance, the Ravens made their ninth consecutive national championship appearance and 10th under Smart. They extended their winning streak at the Metro Centre to 20 straight games dating back to a 78-77 quarter-final loss to McMaster in 2001.
With the core of the team returning and Smart coming back for his 13th season as head coach of the program, the stage is set for another impressive run in 2011-12.
The Guelph Gryphons returned to the playoffs last year after
missing the postseason the season before, and will be looking to
move up in the standings in 2012. Coach Chris O’Rourke says
this year’s edition of the Gryphons should be better than
last year’s. “We’re heading in the right
direction,” says the Gryphon coach. “We’re young
and a little thin in the post, but I’d like to get a home
playoff game and I think that’s achievable.”
Guelph suffered through some injury woes last year, and O’Rourke is counting on a healthier roster being a key factor in team improvement.
All-star guard Dan McCarthy (17.8-PPG) had a tremendous season and will likely be Guelph’s top shooter again this year. The loss of senior guards Jon Moscatelli and Mike Petrella will leave McCarthy (Guelph, Ont.) a marked man for opposing defensive schemes unless some other players step up. “Dan earned that all-star award,” beams O’Rourke. “He really stepped up last year and has done everything we’ve asked him to. He’s really a remarkable kid, in all areas.”
Leading the charge for a bigger role is likely guard Kareem Malcolm (Brampton, Ont.), who was playing well last year before suffering a broken arm that interrupted his season. Second-year guards Michel Clark (Burlington, Ont.) and George Mason (Orillia, Ont.) got some playing time as freshmen and will look to increase their contributions, while transfer Zack Angus (Burlington, Ont.) becomes eligible after spending his first year at Western and will push to start at the point. “Kareem has been outstanding since coming back from that injury, and Zack is just a very smart player,” said O’Rourke.
As the coach states, the Gryphons are a little thin in the post, as 6-6 second-year man Andrew Beney (Waterloo, Ont.) is slated to start, with 6-7 veteran Adam Bering (Windsor, Ont.) returning to the team after a year off. After them, 6-4 Sheriff Wiredu (Toronto) is an experienced forward and 6-8 Seneca College transfer Mohammed Osman (Toronto) has joined as a late recruit. Coach O’Rourke says McCarthy will also see some time at the four-spot, which should create some match-up problems for other teams. Expect the Gryphons to play with four-guards fairly often to offset the team’s lack of frontcourt size.
There are also some promising recruits joining the Gryphon program, including guards Jack Beatty (Woodstock, Ont.), Aron Campbell (Burlington, Ont.), and Eric McDonald (Sarnia, Ont.). “Jack is going to be a very good CIS player,” said the coach. “We look at him as the second-coming of Dan McCarthy, and he’ll play some at the four also. I think Eric and Aron are future all-stars in our league, as they just need to get some experience.”
The Gryphons look good enough to challenge for a postseason berth, and capable of posing a threat in the playoffs.
“We need Dan and Kareem to play at an all-star level for us to be successful,” O’Rourke explained. “It may be frontcourt by committee this year but we have players who will get in there and won’t be outworked. I’m not worried about that.”
As the defending OUA champions, the Lakehead Thunderwolves have
become a target for every team in the league. Head Coach
Scott Morrison wouldn’t have it any other way. "I’d
rather be where we are now than where we were a few years
ago,” says Morrison. “But it does make it hard to enjoy
what you’ve accomplished, when you have to stay so hungry to
stay where you are.”
The ‘Wolves suffered one significant player loss as all-star guard Jamie Searle has finished his eligibility and has joined the coaching staff. A leader on and off the court, Searle’s graduation will leave a hole in the Lakehead line-up. “Searle will be the toughest guy to replace,” says Morrison. “We might replace his numbers, but his leadership on the court, his ability to put guys in the right spot in close games…that will be a big challenge.”
Team depth has certainly become one of the strengths of the Thunderwolves, and several players will need to step up in Searle’s absence.
The backcourt still has a solid rotation that includes OUA
all-star Venzal Russell (13.8-PPG), the defensive
player-of-the-year Greg Carter, Ben Johnson, and Joseph Jones. All
four are seniors and made solid contributions to last
season’s success. “Searle always seemed to make
the right decisions, but now we will expect those guys to do the
same if we are going to be as successful,” said Morrison.
“We may try to play transition basketball more, because our
guards can get out and run. Searle was our decision-maker in
the half-court, so we’ll see how that evolves in our
Up front Lakehead enjoys similar depth and talent. Yoosrie Salhia is a former league all-star and one of the top rebounders in Canada. He joins with fellow seniors Brendan King and Matthew Schmidt , and former all-rookie team member Ryan Thomson to provide good post play. Thomson and Schmidt have shown the ability to step out and knock down shots from the perimeter, while Salhia and King usually operate closer to the basket. Joining the team this year among the forwards are Baltimore native Adam Johnson, and a pair of touted recruits from Winnipeg, Joey Nitychoruk and Michael Thorne-Finch.
Having seven players in their senior year and with trips to the last two CIS tournaments behind them, the Thunderwolves do not lack experience. The OUA schedule is also tilted in Lakehead’s favour this year, as the Wolves will enjoy an extra weekend at home and one fewer road trip.
“We have seven seniors, but we also have six freshmen so we are half-veteran and half-green,” adds Morrison. “I hope to find roles for some of the freshmen, and I expect Adam Johnson to contribute sooner, rather than later. The key for us will be finding that hunger every game. I really like the guys we have, but I find myself constantly reminding the seniors to use the experience they have. If they can do that I think we can continue to be successful. ”
With most of the key pieces back from last year’s OUA championship team, Lakehead should remain a top contender.
Laurentian enters the 2011-12 campaign with a sense of optimism after a strong preseason. The Voyageurs look to improve on last year’s 7-15 performance as the Voyageurs return the majority of last year’s team, including the dynamic trio of Mike Hull, Isiah Pasquale and Manny Pasquale, who all hail from Victoria, B.C. With a strong nucleus in place and the addition of some key players, including Nelson Yengue (Yaounde, Cameroon) and Alex Ratte (Ottawa), the Voyageurs are anticipating making some noise in the OUA East this year.
The Voyageurs started their preseason in France where they took on four professional teams during the trip. Throughout the week long endeavour, the men went 2-2 and left Europe feeling positive about coming back across the Atlantic. The men also competed in a couple of preseason tournaments on Canadian soil, going 1-1 at Concordia. The Voyageurs lost a close four-point battle to Concordia 79-75, before upending UQAM, 85-74.
Most recently, the Voyageurs went unbeaten at their home tournament, downing Bishop’s 100-88 before edging Cape Breton 88-84 and Western 95-87. The men were able to use their bench quite heavily in the third game, exhibiting the depth of this year’s squad, which only bodes well as the season approaches.
The Pasquale brothers, Isiah and Manny, will play a big part of the team’s success this year, as well as forward Mike Hull, as they averaged 16.2, 15.8 and 13.5 PPG respectively. As key as those three players will be, the supporting cast is much deeper and more experienced than last year.
As the regular season approaches, head coach Shawn Swords will look to return the Voyageurs to hosting a playoff game in the Ben Avery Gym. The feat is unfamiliar territory for this year’s squad as the feat hasn’t been accomplished by the men in nine years.
At McMaster, coach Amos Connolly starts his second year on the
bench and expects his Marauders have put last year’s coaching
change behind them. As a rookie coach, Connolly guided McMaster to
a fourth-place league finish and home playoff game, where they were
upset by Western.
“I still feel a little organizationally challenged,” said Connolly, looking forward to his second-year on the bench. “But I feel much more comfortable in terms of being myself and doing things my way.”
McMaster already has taken some hits from the injury bug as top post Scott Brittain (Oakville, Ont.) has had to stop playing due to multiple concussions and senior swingman Scott Laws (Gormley, Ont.) is down until January after off-season foot surgery. In addition, guard Kenan Etale (Dundas, Ont.) will not play until January at the earliest, in order to get his academics in good standing.
“Losing Scott Brittain has forced us to do some re-evaluating,” says Connolly. “We may be more focussed on some long-term goals rather than short-term. But my expectation is that we will improve as a team.”
Coach Connolly will lean on OUA all-star forward Cam Michaud (Grimsby, Ont.) (14.3-PPG) to take on a bigger role this year. Now a senior, the 6-6 Michaud has been made a team captain and looks poised to take his game to another level. Some good news for the frontcourt is that 6-8 Taylor Black (Stoney Creek, Ont.) is back and ready to play. Despite missing the final six weeks of last season due to injury, Black was still selected to the conference all-rookie team. Having him back and healthy is huge for the Marauders. Other forwards that saw playing time include 6-6 Satar Wahidi (Ancaster, Ont.) and 6-4 Nathan Pelech (Mississauga, Ont.), who both have the ability to contribute.
“We don’t have dominating size so we will need to be mobile, extend defences, and execute well in the half-court,” adds the Marauder mentor. “What won’t change is the aggressive, physical defense that Mac is known for.”
The backcourt features some experience as incumbent starter Victor Raso (Hamilton, Ont.) enters his third year, along with spot starter Jordan Tew (Greensville, Ont.). Sophomore Kyle Giedraitis (Dundas, Ont.) is ready to do more after seeing decent PT as a freshman. The addition of Laws and Etale later in the season could make this unit very deep.
The biggest buzz at McMaster surrounds the impressive group of recruits donning Maroon this year. Coach Connolly reeled in five top prospects all ranked among the top-100 high school players in Canada. Forwards Nate McCarthy (Burlington, Ont.) standing at 6-7 and Brett Sanders (Stoney Creek, Ont.) at 6-6 will bring some much-needed size to the floor, while guards Adam Presutti (Oakville, Ont.), Aaron Redpath (Ajax, Ont.) and Joe Rocca (Sarnia, Ont.) all have the potential to contribute as first-year athletes.
“The injuries mean they will be thrown into the fire early,” says Connolly. “We know we will have to live with some growing pains, but I didn’t recruit them to sit on the bench so they should all get the chance to play and I’m very excited by this group.”
McMaster was only 5 and 7 in games decided by five points or less and that is where coach Connolly believes the Marauders can make up some ground. “I put some of that on myself and the coaching staff,” said Connolly. “We need to raise our level of execution in those close games to come out on top. If we can do that we should be okay.”
Depending on how quickly the freshmen adapt to the CIS level of play, McMaster is probably a season away from challenging for the OUA West, although they could be a team that nobody looks forward to playing by playoff time.
With fresh energy and motivation, talented returning veterans,
brilliant young rookies, strong coaching, and having a taste of
near victory, the Gee-Gees are ready to win the 2011-12 season.
Anyone who followed the Gee-Gees last season would find it nearly impossible to forget the painful few seconds that came between the Gee-Gees and the CIS Championships in their heartbreaking 71-69 loss to Lakehead in the OUA Final Four.
It was a comeback season for the rookie Gee-Gees who began the season with a 2-6 record before Christmas, and finished third in the OUA East with an 11-11 record. This season featured OUA First-Team All Star Warren Ward (London, Ont.) and OUA All-Rookie team member Johnny Berhanemeskel (Ottawa) leading the charge in the team’s victories.
The Gee-Gees are looking to return even stronger this season with both Ward and Berhanemeskel in the line-up and the addition of several key rookies. Forward Nemanja Baletic (Ottawa) and starting centre Louis Gauthier (Ottawa) will be missed on the court by the Gee-Gees, but head coach James Derouin is counting on rookies to fill those holes.
Heading up the class of new recruits is star point guard Mike L’Africain (Oakville, Ont.). “He’s a pretty special kid,” said Derouin, “He has brought a change of culture here with him because he is a kid that had opportunity to go to the United States with scholarships [but chose to come to uOttawa] and he is more than happy to be here. It’s really been contagious.”
“Mike’s a natural point guard with great vision,” said Derouin, “He’s really good at finding people and getting them the ball at the right time and right place. With what great scorers Ward and Berhandmeskel are, to have a guy to find them and pass them the ball is key.”
Other rookies making their way into the Gee-Gees starting line-up are forward Vikas Gill (Stittsville, Ont.) and Shamus Ferguson (Toronto), a 6-10 centre who brings “a whole lot of athleticism and energy to the team and fills the one big spot that we lost in our line-up last year [with Gauthier’s departure],” said Derouin on Ferguson’s addition.
Three leaders taking on the title of captain for the Gee-Gees this year are Ward, an on-the-court leader, Dimitrios Seymour (Ottawa), a leader by example off the court, and Jacob Gibson-Bascombe (Toronto), a social leader with strong influence.
The Gee-Gees have the same returning coaching staff, with Derouin leading for his second-season as head coach with the Gee-Gees. The only new addition is Curtis Holden as an assistant coach.
“Our goal is to make nationals this year,” stated Derouin. “Being so close last year, I feel that we’ve upgraded and gotten better as a team. With a year under their belt understanding what I expect from them, I feel that national appearance is our goal this year.”
One thing that is certain, the Gee-Gees will certainly be one team to keep your eye on this year in the OUA.
The Queen’s Gaels basketball program will enter a new era this season as Stephan Barrie will enter his first season at the helm for the team. Barrie joins the Gaels after a five year tenure as the head coach of Western’s women’s basketball program. During his time at Western the Mustangs became a nationally ranked program as the team posted an 87-23 record under coach Barrie’s guidance.
“This is a tremendous opportunity and I am appreciative of being given the responsibility to help lead the Gaels to new heights,” Barrie said. “It's clear that Queen's is committed to becoming one of the top men's basketball programs in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). The vision is exciting and I'm ready to help transform this program into a contender which breeds both athletic and academic success.”
The Gaels will have a young core to build around after the graduations of veterans Dan Bannister Chris Barrett, and Tim Boyle from the program in 2010-11. The Gaels struggled in 2010-11 after a series of changes in the offseason. Gaels legend Mitch Leger graduated from the program to pursue professional basketball and Duncan Cowan took over as the interim head coach. With a high influx of first year players, the team struggled and finished 6-18, just outside of a playoff berth. There were flashes, however, as the Gaels improved after the Christmas break. The Gaels scored 100 points in consecutive games for the first time in their history with a 102-64 win over the York Lions and a 101-92 overtime win over the Laurentian Voyageurs.
The 2011-12 season will require new players to step up and assume leadership roles on the team. Forward Bernard Burgesson of Port Hawkesbury, N.S. is the most veteran member of the team as he enters his fourth season of eligibility with the Gaels. Guard Ryan Golden of Barrie, Ont. and forward Nikola Misljencevic of Ottawa will also be counted on more heavily this season after making waves as rookies. Misljencevic emerged as a force for the Gaels down the stretch, posting a career high 29 points during the overtime win over Laurentian, and will be a go-to player for Queen’s in the post this season.
Mackenzie Simpson, an Ottawa native, will be a high profile addition to the Gaels after joining the team as a recruit out of St. Lawrence College in Kingston. Simpson averaged 14.8 points per game for the Vikings and will look for a seamless transition from the OCAA to the CIS level. Simpson asserted himself well in the Gaels trip to the Naismith Classic, leading the team in scoring in their game against UBC.
With their young nucleus and an energized coaching staff at the helm, the Gaels appear poised to head in to the season with great optimism for the future.
“I'm looking forward to bringing my work ethic to Queen's and contributing to one of the finest universities worldwide,” said Barrie. “We have considerable work in front of us, but with the commitment made by the University, I believe we can attain significant milestones in the near future.”
The Royal Military College of Canada, with an undergraduate
population of approximately 1,000 students, faces a daunting task
in their attempt at being competitive in the OUA East Division. The
Paladins coaching staff has been working tirelessly to bring in
both talent and depth to this year’s squad, geared to mark
the start of a positive shift in the direction of the program.
Head Coach Scott James enters his fourth season at the helm of the Paladins. “I am very excited about the upcoming season. This year, we have added nine new faces to the roster, and in doing so we expect to be much more competitive than we have been during the past couple of seasons.”
With no significant statistical leaders returning from last year’s squad, RMC will be forging ahead this season with a revamped lineup. Forward Idris Said-Madjid (Montreal, Que.) provides the Paladins with a true scoring threat that they have sorely lacked in recent years. Terry Nam (Kingston, Ont.) takes over at point guard, and will bring both offensive flair and defensive intensity to the Paladins backcourt.
A pair of rookies from Calgary will also be prominently featured in 2011-12; guard Nick Fowler will provide the Paladins with secondary scoring, especially from the outside, while forward Timothy Boettcher will be counted on to provide a physical presence at both ends of the court.
With the graduation of Nick Cooke, the task of leading this young team will fall on a trio of veterans: team captain Liam Wright (Fenwick, Ont.), Connor Duke (Dartmouth, N.S.) and James Byun (Toronto). Duke is expected to build on his offensive accomplishments from his rookie season in order to provide additional scoring, while Wright will be counted on for his physical play and rebounding abilities.
The team’s success this season and in the future will depend greatly on how well the new players perform in their first season at RMC. The Paladins are fully committed to altering the course of the program in view of becoming a competitive team in the ever-challenging OUA East Division.
After reaching the OUA semi-finals for the first time since 2003, the Ryerson Rams have their sights set on bigger and better things in 2011-12.
The Rams turned things up following a slow start last year,
winning nine of their last 12 regular season contests to earn
fourth-place in the OUA East division with an 11-11 record. After
winning their OUA quarterfinal game against York, the Rams fell to
the eventual CIS champion Carleton Ravens in the semis.
Mississauga native Jahmal Jones had a breakthrough rookie campaign in the OUA last season. The six-foot point guard finished sixth in conference scoring, with 17.2 points per game while averaging nearly 33 minutes as a starter for the Rams. He was recognized as an OUA East First-Team All-Star and a CIS All-Rookie.
“(Being the point guard), Jahmal was asked to make the
majority of the decisions with the ball,” said Head Coach Roy
Rana. “His impact was enormous, and he arguably could have
been rookie of the year.”
Jones’ success continued through the summer, where he captured a silver medal at the Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, China as a member of the FISU Games team. He averaged close to six points and two rebounds per game in Shenzhen, and was the only first-year player on the roster.
His strong performance was not overlooked, as Jones donned the Canadian colours once more in Guadalajara, Mexico at the Pan American Games which began on October 21 before returning home to join the Rams in early November just prior to the start of the season.
Fellow guard Jordon Gauthier will look to improve upon his OUA All-Rookie campaign in 2010-11. The Windsor, Ont. native averaged 12.2 points and 4.4 boards per game while leading the Rams in offensive rebounds.
Veterans Ola Adegboruwa and Luke Staniscia will also play
critical roles in the 2011-12 season. Adegboruwa (Toronto)
transferred from Lake Region College and played his first season
with Ryerson last year, setting a single-season team record with 58
steals while dropping 13.2 points per game. Fifth-year veteran
Staniscia (Pefferlaw, Ont.) led the Rams with 125 rebounds, and
will look to make an even greater impact in his final season
wearing the blue and gold.
Key returners also include Bjorn Michaelsen (Otterburn Park, Que.), who was hampered by injuries throughout most of his rookie campaign but has the potential to make a huge impact on the roster while healthy. Fellow forward Jelane Pryce (Innisfil, Ont.) led the team’s first-years in free-throw percentage (77 percent) last season, and had the ability to knock down timely shots in big-game situations at points throughout the year.
The 2011-12 recruiting class is highlighted by Eastern Commerce standout Aaron Best. The 6-4 product of Toronto was ranked the No. 2 small forward prospect in Canada by flagrantfouls.com. The basketball recruiting website also had Best ranked as the No. 17 overall prospect in the country. The Scarborough native was a member of both the 2009 and 2010 U17 Ontario provincial teams, and has toured to Europe for international competitions between 2009 and 2011.
“He is one of the best players in the province and one of
the top athletes in Canada,” said Rana. “Not only is he
a phenomenal young man, but he comes from a great basketball
Former Chicago State forward Nem Stankovic will also suit up for the Rams this fall. A former highly-touted recruit out of Vaughan Road Academy, the 6-9 Toronto native will upgrade the front court and bring experience to the Rams lineup.
“In Nem, Ryerson basketball has added a great talent who
has experience at a very high level,” said Rana. “He is
a very powerful and strong athlete that has the ability to hurt
defenses on the perimeter and in the post.”
Rounding out the Rams top recruits is Sheridan College transfer Greg Osawe (Mississauga, Ont.). The former OCAA West Rookie of the Year with the Bruins will enter his third year of eligibility at Ryerson after completing his diploma at Sheridan.
“Greg is a huge addition to our program,” exclaimed Rana. “He is versatile, can play a number of different positions, and has the ability to impact games in many different ways.”
A legitimate franchise player in Jones surrounded by a wealth of talent may have what it takes for Ryerson to turn some heads and bring a new contender to both the OUA and CIS.
“I think if we continue to grow we can be a special group,” Jones said at the end of last season. “We have high expectations for ourselves as a team, and we know we have to be patient. There’s no reason for us not to be playing in the Final Four in the upcoming years. The future is bright for the Ryerson Rams.”
Toronto Varsity Blues
With the loss of only one player to graduation last year, the
Varsity Blues men’s basketball team are poised and ready to
challenge the top teams in the CIS in 2011-12.
"We are looking forward to building on our performance last year after finishing second in our division,” said associated head coach Rick Dilena. “We return four starters and have several key bench players ready to step in and shoulder a heavier load. We are excited about the young guys we have on our team and are looking forward to having a good start to the season.
Three of those four returning starters are forwards Andrew Wasik (Burnaby, B.C.), Drazen Glisic (Sarajevo, BIH) and Alex Hill (Toronot). Both Wasik and Glisic enter their fifth-and-final year of eligibility and look to go out on top.
A 2010-11 OUA first team All-Star, Wasik led the team in
rebounding, while also ranking among the top three Blues in points
and assists last season.
Glisic, a 6-foot-6 forward, is a precision player while also bringing a big presence on the floor. An OUA second team All-Star last season, Glisic ranked third in the province with a 55.7 field goal percentage and also tallied a team-high 20 blocks on the year.
Hill enters his second season in the Blue and White after transferring from the Cornell Big Red last season. The 6-foot-5 forward led the team, averaging 15 points per game in 2010-11.
With the loss of starting guard Anthony De Giorgio, fifth-year
veteran and three-point specialist Justin Holmes will be relied on
to control the flow this season. The Toronto native averaged 11.2
points per game and ranked fifth in the OUA with 52 three-pointers
The Blues welcome forwards Laszlo Schuetz and Denis Ankrah (Etobicoke, Ont.), as well as guard Ryan Robinet to their 2011-12 line-up.
A native of Munich, Laszlo Schuetz played two years with the Langara College and won the 2009 city championship as a member of Kitsilano Secondary School in Vancouver.
A member of the under-19 division II OBA championship team,
Denis Ankrah was the Silverthorn Collegiate most valuable player in
A three-year member of the Hillsdale College Chargers in Michigan, Ryan Robinet joins the Blues roster with two years of eligibility remaining. The Windsor, Ont., native excels both on and off the court as he earned academic all-conference honours from 2009-11 at Hillsdale.
The Varsity Blues open their 2011-12 regular season on Friday, November 11 when they host the Waterloo Warriors at the Athletic Centre Sports Gym. Tip off is scheduled for 8 p.m.