Justin Jarvis has done a lot of growing up in the last 12 months.
The Red Deer College Kings latest addition grew up playing basketball in the Toronto area against a number of current first round NBA selections. He had his own route planned out for college, but after a year at a junior college in Detroit, he found himself sitting at home and out of basketball for more than a year.
But in that time he really did find himself. Basketball is no longer the main driving force in his life as he is thinking more about his future.
“Right now, (basketball) keeps me active and I keep doing it, but I’m looking at my long-term career now,” he said. “I want to purse the trades, like to become an electrician, if everything works out.”
Jarvis joined the Kings basketball team at Christmas, and after a slow start to his RDC career, he has begun to assert himself.
Though it is a small sample size of six games, he is second on the team in scoring at 14.2 points per game and is leading in rebounds per game at 9.2. This includes his first weekend where he was coming off the bench.
Since entering the starting lineup four games ago, Jarvis has averaged 18.5 points and 12 rebounds a game.
“He naturally has a pretty good skill set, so he’s found ways to be effective right away, sometimes not even knowing our defences or knowing our offences,” said Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger. “We lost Marcelus Clay in the first semester who basically Justin came in and filled his shoes. We loved Cely, but in terms of production the numbers don’t lie. Justin is doing more for us than Cely was.”
His biggest issue was overcoming a lack of conditioning after sitting out for more than a year.
After leaving Oakland Community College, a junior college in Detroit, Mich., after the 2012-13 season — he came off the bench in nine games for the Raiders, averaging 7.7 points and 6.2 rebounds — he returned to his home in Vaughan, Ont., where he helped out with his grandmother.
It was about as far from playing competitive basketball as he could get.
Then out of nowhere, he received an email from Kings assistant coach Luc Stevenson who had tried to recruit him while he was still in high school.
It was a lifeline he was not about to ignore.
He has fit in well with his new teammates, but at six-foot-four and 230 pounds, he is one of the smallest centres in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. He instead relies on his leaping ability and athleticism to make up the difference.
Jarvis is also used to playing at a high level against the likes of NBA first overall pick Anthony Bennett and first round pick Tyler Ennis — both of whom he knows personally — among other current NBA players. He also had a couple of encounters with Andrew Wiggins while growing up though he never played against the Canadian basketball prodigy.
It was an environment that bred excellence in the sport and has launched Canadian basketball to new heights. While he was never quite at the same ability level as some of these elite players, he did have his share of recruitment letters coming out of high school like CIS powers Carlton and Concordia University, Fleming College and York University. He also showed he could hold his own against these top players, including Bennett.
“He was one of the biggest assignments I’ve had, he was six-foot-seven at the time, I was about six foot three and he could jump as high as me,” said Jarvis.
“I wouldn’t say I locked him down, I would use the word contain.”
This weekend he will have another tough challenge, lining up against the SAIT Trojans’ six-foot-nine centre Shayne Stumpf, who in 18 games is averaging 9.2 rebounds and 14.8 points, both team highs.
“I heard he’s tall and he’s physical, so it’s going to be a good challenge for me,” said Jarvis. “I’ve got to box him out, I can’t take any breaks because he will take advantage of it.”
The Kings (14-4) as a whole are preparing for a difficult weekend after splitting in Medicine Hat against the Rattlers (13-5) last weekend. The Trojans (10-8) are two points behind the Olds College Broncos (11-7) for the final playoff spot in the ACAC South Division and have won four of their last six games, including splits with Olds and the Lethbridge College Kodiaks (14-4).
“It’s a big game for us, it’s a very big game for them, they’re battling for their playoff lives right now and they’ve given themselves some life by beating Lethbridge,” said Pottinger. “Honestly, I think they’re playing the basketball of all the teams in the ACAC South right now.”
The two teams play on Friday at RDC with the women going at 6 p.m. and the men at 8 p.m. They then play in Calgary at 6 and 8 p.m. on Saturday.
The RDC Queens (2-16) will be in tough against the Trojans (14-4), who sit in second place in the ACAC.
• The RDC Queens hockey team (9-5-4) look to clinch a playoff spot this week against the first place NAIT Ooks (14-3-1). The Queens need three points in the seasons’s final six games, or for the MacEwan University Griffins (5-11-2) to lose twice, to clinch a playoff berth. The Queens host the Ooks tonight at 7 p.m. and then play in Edmonton on Saturday at 6 p.m.
• The RDC Kings hockey team (9-12-0-3) plays their first of two makeup games against the Portage College Voyageurs (1-20-0-1), hosting the ACAC’s last place team on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Penhold Regional Multiplex.
• RDC volleyball is in Medicine Hat on Friday and Saturday. Both RDC teams enter the weekend as the top ranked teams in the ACAC and in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association.