Local Sports: Red Deer College hoops path leads to the pros

RDC Kings basketball head coach Clayton Pottinger believes in developing his players to be the best they can be on and off the court not only while at RDC but after they leave.

So, over the seven years he’s been with the program, when several of his players indicated they were interested in professional basketball, he did everything in his power to help them achieve their goal.

“They expressed interest in playing professionally, and, when they asked me about it, I was supportive and encouraged them in everything we did with that being front and centre on their minds,” said Pottinger.

Today five former RDC Kings – Jacob Cusumano, Ian Tevis, Shayne Stumpf, Clay Crelin and Anthony Ottley – are playing pro ball. Cusumano, who was a player-coach last year in Germany, is in Italy with Tevis in Germany and other three with the Windsor Express of the National Basketball League of Canada.

“I think that speaks to the level of our program, the level of our recruiting, and the level we train at, so that when they leave here, and if they so choose, they are ready to move into the pro ranks. If you compare that to other college and U-Sport teams across the country, we have a good record,” Pottinger added.

Crelin, who played with the Kings in 2013-14, helping them to a silver medal at the Canadian championships, played professionally in the Philippines prior to joining Windsor.

“He’s a new father and wanted the opportunity to come back to Canada,” said Pottinger. “I happened to be talking with Windsor about Shayne the day after Clay talked with me, and I told them about him wanting to come back, and they took it from there.”

Tevis, who was the ACAC player of the year last season, toured in Germany with a team out of the States and received the opportunity to sign.

“He’s in probably a lower division than he should be and is dominating,” said Pottinger.

Cusumano, who played five years at RDC, may surprise some in that he’s playing pro. He’s a six-foot-guard, but does have a European passport, and the desire to fulfill his dreams.

“If you look at Jake’s build and athleticism it wouldn’t be easy to see him as a pro,” said Pottinger. “But when we did things what we called at a professional level, he excelled. He took care of his body and his nutrition. He worked on his shooting and studied the game. He acted like a professional and combined with his desire he deserves to be where he is today.

“He has a great mind for the game, and will be a great coach once he finishes playing.”

All five players will tell you they loved Red Deer, RDC and the program.

“I’m glad to say they had a good basketball experience. It was like a second home to them.”

As for Pottinger, he couldn’t be more proud of all his players.

“I enjoyed coaching them and feel proud and happy for them,” he said. ’They set a goal and stuck to it and we helped get them there. When you see them realize their goals it’s nice.”

He indicated the same could be said about all his former players, reaching their goals no matter what they may be.

As for the future Pottinger believes there could be more players playing reaching the pro ranks.

“If you look at our current lineup there are three-four-five guys who could go on. We try to recruit and identify great talent, combined with academics. Then it’s up to us as coaches to develop them.”

Danny Rode is a former Advocate reporter who can be reached at drode@reddeeradvocate.com

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