Watch Robert Pierce play once for the RDC Kings basketball squad and you have to be impressed.
The Windsor, Ont., native is possibly the best athlete in the Alberta Colleges Men’s Basketball League. He is second in the South Division scoring with 17.46 points per game and leads the south, and is second overall, with 11.48 rebounds per game.
And even more impressive is the fact the six-foot-two Pierce plays up front.
“It seems that when guys see a six-foot-two guy they think I’m a guard, but growing up I was always a short kid, but I could always jump, which is a plus when getting rebounds,” Pierce said. “When going up against a six-eight guy I’m able to get up for the rebound.”
Pierce impressed Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger before he even saw him in a regular game.
“We did the Canada Basketball fitness test prior to the season and he blew it away,” said Pottinger. “Even at a national level he’s one of the best athletes playing basketball in Canada.”
Pierce grew up in Windsor playing every sport available.
“I was always an athletic kid playing football, basketball, volleyball and competing in track and field . . . whatever sport there was,” he said. “In the off season I’d lift weights.”
Pierce graduated high school in 2008 and played one season with Lambton College in Sarnia, Ont.
He was named to the all-rookie team and was a premier scorer in the Ontario Athletic Conference Western Division.
“We weren’t very good as a team, but I had a good season,” he said.
He took the following year off to work in Toronto before returning to Lambton last season and led the division in scoring and was named to the all-star team.
He thought about playing CIS basketball this year, but after talking to Jacob Cusumano’s father, decided to come out west.
Cusumano, who is in his second season at RDC, is one of several players out of Windsor to play with the Kings.
“Jake, Stason Golden and RJ Wells where with me in high school and when Jake’s dad contacted me he told me about Red Deer.”
It’s gone well, although he did say with a smile that “it was a little colder than I imagined.”
Pierce is a perfect fit for the Kings.
“He’s the funniest guy on the team as well,” said Pottinger. “He provides some levity in the dressing room, but plays with intensity and works hard. He averages a double-double and is our anchor. He’s one of the guys favourite teammates.”
Pierce did say he found a bit of a difference between the ACAC and Ontario, two of the premier leagues in the country.
“In Ontario it’s more about the bigs while here there’s a lot of shooters and quick guards, but it’s still basketball,” he said.
Pierce got some help up front at Christmas with the addition of six-foot-seven Sarain Soonias, who is one of the premier post players in the conference.
“He’s a true five (post) and when he’s on the floor it opens up things down low and gives me more opportunity to score and rebound,” said Pierce, who likes what he sees from the Kings in the new year.
“The whole chemistry has changed. We’ve filled in some spots.”
Pierce is taking business management and would ultimately like to get into criminology.
The basketball squads are on the road this weekend, playing Friday and Saturday at Lethbridge.
The Kings, 8-5, need two wins in their final five games to secure at least third in the south.
• The hockey Queens are the only team to play at home this week as they meet SAIT in a home-and-home series — Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Arena and Saturday at SAIT.
The Queens need to sweep the series if they expect to get back in the playoff race.
• The volleyball squads are also on the road in Grande Prairie for a weekend twin bill.
• Volleyball dominated the Boston Pizza RDC athlete of the week voting.
Outside hitter Quentin Schmidt took the top male award after finishing with 30 kills, 14 digs and two stuff blocks as the Kings took both ends of a doubleheader from SAIT.
Right side Jaclyn Neufeld received the women’s award as she accumulated 13 kills, two blocks, two aces and 22 digs in a pair of 3-0 wins over SAIT.