There’s been a lot of talk around the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference lately that the two-time league champion RDC Kings basketball squad, who finished second at the nationals, will be a shadow of themselves next season.
The loss of three fifth-year starters — Lloyd Strickland, Jacob Cusumano and Rob Pierce — plus at least three others — Ashaunti Hogan, Sam Lolik and Taner Parrington — will definitely leave several holes to fill. Hogan will attend Lakehead University while Parrington is going to Mount Royal University. There’s also a possibility Clay Crellin may play pro in Europe next season.
But Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger isn’t about to throw in the towel.
“We’ll have several guys back and with the guys coming in I believe we’ll challenge for the league title again,” he said following the team’s ID camp at RDC Sunday.
It was a busy weekend as the Queens also held their ID camp Saturday.
Matt Johnson and JP Leblanc will return for the Kings at guard, plus Henry Bankazo, who played with Medicine Hat College prior to Christmas last year, is also on hand.
Brian Prenoslo will return up front along with Dallas Hancox and Jordan Britton, who was a red shirt last season, while Mari Peoples-Wong can play either guard or wing.
US import six-foot-eight Craig Johnson was also at camp, and there’s a possibility he may return, says Pottinger, who liked what he saw from several of the newcomers on hand.
Guard Brayden Daniels played last year with St. Mary’s University of Calgary while Cody Pinder of Nassau, Bahamas can play either the wing or small forward. Guard Brandt Seibel of Ponoka also caught the veteran coach’s eye along with Matthew Cunning of Carstairs.
“There were several other Central Alberta kids that looked good,” he said. “Overall it was a good camp.”
Pottinger hopes to have his team basically selected by early May, but knows that may be tough.
“If it’s like other years it will be into July before everything falls into place,” he said. “There were several guys we’re definitely interested in who couldn’t make it this weekend. Both the University of Calgary and Alberta had camps as well as other colleges.
“I know there’s some players we’ll be talking to and looking at from those camps.”
Meanwhile the Queens could have nine players returning, including fifth-year forward Jessica Foley.
Guard Dedra Janvier and forward Kaitlin Bracko will be back for a third year while the status of Desirea Paterson is up in the air, along with Paola Viveros. Second-year guards Manesha Sidhu and Gillian Griffins will return along with red shirts Janelle Kakakaway and Madeline Klootwyk, who is also coming off an injury.
Several others also caught the attention of Queens head coach Mike Woollard.
Aneca Fretts, who played with Mount Royal University, is expected to add depth and experience up front.
Woollard was also looking to add depth at guard and several rookies — Morgan Dool of Ponoka, Brenna Seymour of Meadow Lake, Sask., Kennedy Burgess of Okotoks and Sydney Daines of Innisfail — will do just that. As well, Emma Reinhart of Beiseker, caught the coach’s eye.
“We’ll be stronger at guard which is something we needed,” said Woollard, who will also continue to bring in players over the next couple of weeks.
“We have a couple of bigger girls coming in this week as some players couldn’t make it to the camp,” he said. “Overall I’m happy with what I saw. We should have a strong nucleus and we’ll definitely add players, who can play in the league.”
There were also several Grade 10 and 11 students on hand and Nicole Fischer of Hunting Hills, who is going into Grade 12, was one of the more impressive.
Woollard would like to have his roster set in early May, but like Pottinger, realizes that may not happen.
“I would like to, but there’s a couple of American camps and a camp in Germany, so you never know who we may be available,” he said.