As the NCAA’s Late Signing Period opened on April 16 and the AAU scene is now in full force, there has been lots of activity for Canadians south of the border. Countless scouts are also rushing to basketball courts across Canada to put their finishing touches to recruiting classes. It’s an exciting time to be a basketball fan, so here’s your hook-up to some of the latest news:
Now hooping it up with perennial national power St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, NJ), 6’8” forward Tristan Thompson became the first Canadian sophomore to ever make a commitment to an NCAA Division 1 team by pledging to the University of Texas. Thompson, who hails from Brampton, is set to graduate in 2010 and will be seen on the spring/summer AAU scene with Toronto-based GrassRoots Canada.
Two years after being denied entry to the University of Iowa by the NCAA Clearinghouse, Belleville’s Jamie Vanderbeken has completed his two-year stint at Tyler Junior College in Texas and signed with Iowa State University for next fall. The athletic 6’10” centre with great shooting range chose the Cyclones over the UConn Huskies this month. He averaged 15.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game this season, while also hitting an impressive 40 three-pointers.
A transfer to Panola College in Texas this year did wonders for Toronto’s Papa Oppong this year, being named a Region 14 All-Star that culminated into an NCAA D1 scholarship to Eastern Kentucky. The 6’4” wing, who spent last year at Coffeyville College in Kansas, averaged a team-high 15.9 points per game along with 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 2007-08. Oppong was also considering Idaho, Utah State, Colorado State, and Murray State.
6’1” combo guard Shamar Coombs has signed with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Toronto native spent the past two years at Tallahassee Junior College in Florida. He averaged 15.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.6 three-pointers per game this season. Shamar, who is cousins with Senior National Team player Denham Brown, spent a year at Toronto Academy Prep after helping lead West Hill to an OFSAA ‘AAAA’ Bronze medal in 2004-05.
Updated Canadian NCAA Division 1 Commitments
1. Devoe Joseph 6'2" SG (Ajax, ON/Pickering) - Minnesota
2. Kris Joseph 6'7" SF (Montreal, QC/Archbishop Carroll) - Syracuse
3. Randy Dezouvre 6'4" SG (Montreal, QC/Champlain-St. Lambert) - Rhode Island
4. Andrew Nicholson 6'10" C (Mississauga, ON/Father Goetz) - St. Bonaventure
5. Francis-Cedric Martel 6'5" SF (Montreal, QC/Montmorency) - Richmond
6. Marc Trasolini 6'8" PF (Vancouver, BC/Vancouver College) - Santa Clara
7. Keaton Cole 5'9" PG (Toronto, ON/Eastern Commerce) - Western Carolina
8. Tyler Murray 6'4" PG (Toronto, ON/Eastern Commerce) - Wagner
9. Alex Hill 6'4" SG (Toronto, ON/Eastern Commerce) - Cornell
10. Arnold Mayorga 6'7" PF (London, ON/HB Beal) - Long Island
11. Adam Jespersen 6'8" SF (London, ON/HB Beal) - Hawaii
12. Nemanja Mitrovic 6'5" SF (Toronto, ON/Northern) - Portland
13. Jameson Tipping 6'5" SG (Orangeville, ON/Bradenton Christian Prep) - Western Kentucky
14. Eric Williams 6'8" PF (Montreal, QC/Champlain-St. Lambert) - Niagara
15. Anaclet Mulumba-Mbayi 6'7" PF (Montreal, QC/Vanier) - Fairleigh Dickinson
16. Jamie Vanderbeken 6'10" C (Belleville, ON/Tyler JuCo) - Iowa State
17. Papa Oppong 6'4" SG (Toronto, ON/Panola JuCo) - Eastern Kentucky
18. Shamar Coombs 6'1" CG (Toronto, ON/Tallahassee JuCo) - Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
*Note: Some players still require authorization from the NCAA Clearinghouse before their commitment is complete.
Recruiting in the CIS
The recruiting battles between BC schools have been very intense as perennial top recruiters UBC and Victoria are now competing with new coaches Barnaby Craddock (Fraser Valley) and Scott Allen (Trinity Western). The result is an exciting amount of talent heading to the province.
Reigning Canada West champion UBC added a dynamic duo with two-time U17 Provincial team starter Akeem Pierre (Richmond, BC/RC Palmer) joining 6’2” Josh Whyte (Victoria transfer). Pierre is an athletic and exciting guard that can shut down anyone defensively. His offensive game is becoming well-rounded as well. Whyte adds the missing link - an impact point guard - that will make the Thunderbirds difficult to leapfrog at the top of the Canada West conference standings.
Victoria hit the BC college circuit hard, picking up Jeff Spoor (5’11” PG, Camosun), Wendell Thomas (6’6” F, UBC-Okanagan), and Marco Dolcetti (6’2” G, UBC-Okanagan). Spoor received All-Canadian status this season and is a lethal shooter. Thomas is a man-child that will bring the Vikings’ crowds to their feet with his ability to finish above the rim, even in traffic. Built strong and playing tough until the whistle blows, Dolcetti can shoot from the outside and defend. Head coach Craig Beaucamp also secured White Rock Christian Academy’s smooth outside shooter Spencer McLean (6’7” F) and another jumping jack in Talon Jones (6’5” F) from Mount Baker HS in Cranbrook.
Coach Allen proved right after his hiring that he can recruit by luring a big impact player in Jacob Doerksen (6’6” F) to Trinity Western's Langley campus after considering UBC, Calgary, and Fraser Valley as well. The versatile UVic transfer is a force down low with his big frame, but can also handle the ball and shoot from the perimeter. Shortly thereafter, Louis Hurd (5’11” G, Columbia Bible College transfer) and Tonner Jackson (6’6” G/F, White Rock, BC/White Rock) pledged their allegiance to the independent Christian university and are also expected to provide more boost to the program. When you consider two redshirts will be added as well: Brian Banman (6’3” G), who sat out this past season after leading the team in scoring in 2006-07, and 2006-07 CCAA Player of the Year Jamie Vaughan (6’5” F, Fraser Valley transfer), the rebuilding is well underway.
Coach Craddock had to look on with joy as the BC ‘AAA’ high school championships were won by Yale Secondary from Abbotsford, considering he has commitments from their three top graduating seniors. U17 Provincial team starters Joel Friesen (6’3” G) and Josh Kufske (6’5” F) bring a nice inside-outside combination, while Jasper Moedt (6’7” F) provides another big body for the future. Friesen, the MVP of the championship run, is especially gifted with his ability to attack the basket off the dribble at will. Another U17 starter last summer, Sam Freeman (6’2” G, Vancouver, BC/Dr. Charles Best), brings another stud to the rebuilding Cascades’ program with his dangerous combination of athleticism and ability to knock down the outside shot.
Alberta’s top player, Dominyc Coward (Airdrie, AB/Bert Church), has signed on with the University of Calgary for the fall. The 6’6” power forward with a defensive end’s frame is an absolute terror in the post, giving the Dinos another weapon to their already impressive frontcourt rotation.
Former U17 Manitoba player Adam Dobriansky (East St. Paul, MB/Mennonite Brethren ’06) announced he is transferring from NCAA D1 Monmouth University and currently leaning towards the University of Winnipeg, where his parents are former players. The 6’10” 225-pound centre redshirted in 2006-07, then played in only four games this season.
Over in Ontario, the Carleton Ravens’ quest for a sixth straight national title may be over, but their ability to get commitments from top prospects is not. The Ravens recently added 6’7” forward Dan Penner (Winnipeg, MB/Miles Macdonell). The top player out of Manitoba this year, Penner brings inside toughness and a smooth outside shot. This comes after receiving previous commitments from two local stars, Kyle Smendziuk (Ottawa, ON/All Saints) and Anthony Ashe (Ottawa, ON/Sacred Heart). Smendziuk is a 6’5” power player who started for the U17 Ontario team the last two summers. Ashe is a 6’5” lanky wing with great versatility. He has been relatively unknown outside eastern Ontario throughout his high school career, but is generally regarded as a sleeper.
Working hard all year to resolve the graduation losses that significantly helped put them into national prominence, the University of Windsor program has had a great start to April with commitments from 6’5” versatile forward Steve Priolo (St. Catharines, ON/Holy Cross) and 6’7” transfer Matt Day (London, ON/St. Thomas Aquinas ’03), who plans to complete an MBA after finishing his career at NCAA Division 1 UNC-Asheville. Head coach Chris Oliver and staff have now added four D1 transfers in as many years, including Central Michigan transfer Andre Smyth (6’6” F), who sat out this past season and is eligible next year as well. The Lancers also have the top player from the Maritimes coming to campus in the fall, 5’10” point guard Ellis Ffrench (Wolfville, NS/Horton).
This year’s CIS Coach of the Year, Mike Katz, picked up a great recruit for his University of Toronto program recently with a commitment from 2006-07 OCAA Player of the Year Pat Sewell. The 6’3” wing from Fanshawe College has great shooting range and even more impressive athleticism that will be on display for the big crowds that now head to see the Varsity Blues.
After receiving heavy interest from numerous CIS coaches during the high school season, Justin Boutilier (Niagara Falls, ON/AN Myer) committed to National runner-up Acadia in March. The 6’6” forward can post up and finish strong in the block, take opposing frontcourt players off the dribble with his athleticism, or stretch them even further with his ability to knock down three-pointers.
St. Mary’s has a commitment from the top post player in the Maritimes this year, Simon Marr (Saint John, NB/St. Malachy’s). The 6’8” centre has a nice mid-range jumper and was named the Southwest Conference Player of the Year in New Brunswick this season.
High School Championship Roll Call
The exciting road to a provincial high school championship has come and gone across the country. Below recognizes a number of crowned champions.
AAA Final – MVP Joel Friesen scored 29 points to lead Yale (Abbotsford) to a 76-62 victory over White Rock Christian Academy (White Rock).
AA Final – Brittania (Vancouver) beat Windsor (North Vancouver), 81-73. William Edwards led the winners with 22 points, while Chris Paredes led Windsor with 22.
AAAA Final – Last year’s finalist, Paul Kane (St. Albert), came out as champions this time with a 67-62 victory over Foothills Composite (Okotoks). Grade 11 Travis Blacker scored 20 for Kane. Coleton Derochie’s 19 points led Foothills.
AAA Final – Calvin Christensen scored 33 points to lead Chestermere to a 76-68 win over Holy Trinity Academy (Okotoks).
AA Final – Picture Butte rode the talents of their “Big Two” in their 82-74 win over JR Robson (Vermilion) as Grade 11s Todd Bergen-Henengouwen and Logan Reiter combined to score 69 points.
A Final – Tournament host Stirling knocked off Foremost, 78-66, behind Lloyd Strickland’s 18 points.
AAAAA Final – 6’6” post Nolan Brudehl scored a game-high 24 points as Bishop James Mahoney (Saskatoon) knocked off defending champion Sheldon-Williams (Regina), 67-57. University of Regina-bound Austin Bates led Sheldon with 21.
AAAA Final – In a rematch of last year’s championship game, Peacock (Moose Jaw) made it two in a row with a 74-66 overtime win over Central (Moose Jaw). Brock Overs led Peacock with 17 points, while Bryce Warner led Central with a game-high 19.
AAAA Final – Garden City (Winnipeg) beat defending champion Oak Park (Winnipeg), 69-65. Point guard Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson scored 23 for Garden City, while Justin Roper scored the same amount for Oak Park.
AAA Final –Neelin (Brandon) hammered St. Norbert (Winnipeg), 104-58. Neelin’s point guard Sterling Nostedt was named MVP.
AAAA Final – Devoe Joseph’s jumper with 3.1 seconds to go gave Pickering (Ajax) their second straight championship over Eastern Commerce (Toronto), 47-46. Devoe led Pickering with 20 points, while Tyler Murray led Eastern with 14.
AAA Final – After losing their first game of the tournament, St. Patrick’s (Ottawa) won their first provincial title by beating Vaughan (Thornhill) in the final, 63-62. Afeworki Gebrekerestos paced the champs with 17 points. Nick Wiggins scored a game-high 25 for Vaughan.
AA Final – #7 seed AY Jackson (Ottawa) upended St. Francis (St. Catharines), 37-30. Jordan Erskine scored a team-high 11 points, while Tshing Kasamba paced St. Francis with 17.
A Final – ACMT (Hamilton) made it back-to-back championships with a 54-44 win over Ridley College (St. Catharines). Kenan Etale scored 17 points for the victors.
AAA Final – Riverview got a game-high 35 points from Alex MacLeod on their way to the championship over Leo Hayes (Fredericton), 94-71.
AA Final – Grade 11 Joel Everett led Woodstock with 27 points as they beat Dalhousie, 89-73.
Division 1 Final – Horton (Wolfville) successfully defended their title with a 78-76 win over The Citadel (Halifax). Ellis Ffrench scored 35 for Horton in his final high school game. Duane Gero-Carvery led The Citadel with 27 points.
Division 2 Final – Bridgewater took out Central Kings (Cambridge), 84-74. Kyle Zinck scored 25 points for the victors.
Prince Edward Island
AAA Final – Nathan Palmer’s team-high 14 points led Charlottetown Rural to the provincial title over Three Oaks (Summerside), 64-51. Mike Hardy scored 18 for Three Oaks.
AAAA Final – Cornerbrook beat defending champion Holy Heart of Mary (St. John’s), 86-76.