Saturday, 21 April 2007

Canada West Central Division Pre-Summer Update

Saskatchewan Huskies Key Losses: Sam Lamontagne G/F (graduated) Key Players Scheduled to return: Andrew Spagrud 6'8" (5th), Kyle Grant 6'2" (5th), Rejean Chabot 6'0" (3rd), Jordan Harbidge 6'1" (5th), Mark Lynch 6'7" (5th), David Neufeld 6'8" (2nd), Clint Unsworth 6'9" (3rd). Comments: The Huskies return all five starters including All-Canadian Spagrud who is the best low-post player in the conference and arguably the best big returning big man in Canada. Three of the other 4 starters enter their fifth seasons including steady point guard Harbidge, who battled injuries late last season, a terrific scorer in Grant and a steady complementary big in Lynch who can make perimeter jumpers. Chabot is an explosive scorer while a pair of young bigs off the bench in Unsworth and Neufeld provide depth inside. Recruiting Focus: Although there is little room in the rotation this season, the Huskies will have to replace almost their entire starting lineup in '08-'09 and have already positioned themselves well with a commitment from 6'8" forward Troy Gottselig, who will enter his third season of eligibility after transfering from Medicine Hat College. Gottselig, an athletic forward who was a second team ACAC All-Star, shoots the perimeter jumper and is at his best running the floor. The Huskies also will bring in 6'3" guard Brennan Jarrett, fresh off back-to-back city championships with Saskatoon Holy Cross, a fundamentally-sound, smooth-shooting combo guard. Jarrett joins four other former Crusader players on the Huskie roster. The Huskies could also add another athletic wing and another big guy who can score with his back to the basket.

Alberta Golden Bears Key Losses: Scott Gordon 6'5", Tyson Jones 6'3" (both graduated). Key Players Scheduled to return: 6'2" Alex Steele (5th), 6'0" C.G. Morrison (3rd), 6'5" Justin Van Loo (4th), Andrew Parker 6'3" (5th), 6'11" Richard Bates (5th), 6'5" Neb Aleksic (4th), Scott Leigh 5'10" (2nd), Harvey Bradford 6’5” (3rd) and Jeff Stork 6’9”. Comments: The Bears return a veteran lineup that includes 5 players in last season's rotation who enter their 4th or 5th seasons plus a pair of point guards, both of who can be stars in Canada West. Steele is one of Canada West's top perimeter shooters who benefits from the strong court sense of floor leader Morrison, who emerged as one of the top lead guards in the conference last season. Up front, Van Loo is a strong rebounding forward in the mould of many great Bears post players of the past while the tall, burly Bates provides size and a defensive presence. Aleksic was instant offense from the beyond the arc when right last season while Parker could be the best raw athlete in Canada and looks to fully break out in his final season. Leigh is a former B.C. Provincial team point guard who should break into more playing time subbing for as well as along side Morrison in the back court. Recruiting Focus: Although the Bears return a pair of strong post-area players, a big man to whom the ball can be dumped inside for scoring is needed. As well, Alberta could use an athletic wing player who can create offense and make shots to complement an array of catch and shoot perimeter players. Another all-round wing and/or post would also help as the Bears lose another 3 players next season.

Calgary Dinos Key Losses: Josh Feist PG, Brian Finniss F, Sonny Khangura F. Key Players Scheduled to return: Ross Bekkering 6'7" (3rd), Robbie Sihota 6'5" (3rd), Cody Darrah 6'4" (5th), Joe Schow 6'9" (3rd), Jeremy Odland 6'4" (5th), Joel Bancroft 6'0" (3rd). Comments: With the strong, athletic Ross Bekkering leading the charges up front, Calgary returns the majority of their bigs. Sihota is a proven scorer while Darrah is an experience Canada West player. Schow has plenty of size and length. Bancroft is the most experienced returning guard. Recruiting Focus: The Dinos have the makings of one of Canada's top recruiting classes beginning with an early commitment from strong forward Henry Bekkering (Taber, AB), who is transfering from NCAA D1 Eastern Washington and could immediately be the best athlete in the CIS. At 6'6" and 245 lbs., Bekkering is big and strong but has freakish jumping ability and expect his high-wire act to result in some highlight reel dunks as he will push for a starting spot immediately. Calgary's second blue chip recruit is regarded as one of Canada's top high schoolers: 6'9" wing Tyler Fidler, who brings a blend of athleticism and skill with perimeter skills and an inside game. Fidler averaged a triple-double at Calgary Western Canada H.S. this past season and was recruited by several NCAA Division 1 teams before deciding to stay home. Fidler is also a member of the Alberta Provincial team and started on the 2005 Alberta Canada Games team as a 16-year old that competed in Regina. Recruiting a top point guard who can step in and play immediately was a top priority and in 6'2" Jeff Price, originally from Calgary Lord Beaverbrook H.S. and a transfer from Mount Royal College in Calgary entering his 3rd year of eligibility, the Dinos feel this area has been addressed. The Dinos also received a commitment from 6'2" combo guard Brennan Fule from Strathmore, Alberta, just outside Calgary, who is described as mentally-tough with a scorer's mentality and was also heavily recruited as a volleyball player before deciding on playing basketball.

Lethbridge Pronghorns Key Players Lost: Scott Mackinnon, Matt Bekkering, Todd McClenaghan, Bruce Carbert, Kevin Monson (all graduated), Ryan Mitchel, Eric Galie, Tim McMurray (will not return). Key Players Scheduled to return: Richard Steed 5'10" (3rd), Ryan Anderson 6'5" (4th), Chris Giles 6'3" (2nd), Gilbert Madsen 6'8" (4th). Comments: The Horns return only 4 players from last year's roster including starting point guard Steed, a steady ball handler, who looks to improve his perimeter jumper. Anderson, the team captain, is a strong, physical post player who was last season's sixth man while another big body in Madsen provides rebounding and interior defense. Giles, a combo guard who was an Alberta provincial team member, had a nice freshman season and should press for time on the wing. Recruiting Focus: With plenty of roster space and playing time available, Coach Mike Connolly looks to bring in a large class with every position accounted for. The Horns got an early commitment from blue chip 6'4" wing Allan Tollestrup, son of former Canadian National team player Phil Tollestrup, back from a Mormon mission after playing his first season at Lethbridge C.C. The younger Tollestrup is a tremendous scorer in the mould of his dad after leading the ACAC in scoring two season's ago. Lethbridge also welcomes Tollestrup's teammate from Lethbridge CC, 6'1" Shawn Nelson, who is a solid defender and athlete entering his third season of eligibility. To help fortify the front line, the Horns will bring in 6'6" Greg Jobagy (Calgary Beaverbrook), described as a prototypical power forward who spent his freshman season at U of Calgary but redshirted after winning the 2004 Alberta provincial high school championship and captaining the 2004 Alberta provincial team. Connolly tapped into his contacts in the Toronto area, where he spent several seasons as an assistant to Ken Olynyk at U of T to snare 5'9" PG Alan Kadema, orginally from Toronto Jarvis who spent his first 3 seasons in the U.S., most recently at Minot State-Bottineau JUCO. Kadema should push for a starting role immediately. Lethbridge also secured the services of another Alberta provincial team stalward in 6'2" two guard Quinn Van Gaalen, a local product from Lethbridge LCI via Foremost H.S. who enters his freshman season as a combination guard. Connolly will likely bring in at least 3 more new faces including a traditional big, low post player, an athletic big guy at the four spot and another wing player.

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