RDC Queens head coach Ken King spent a lot of time on the road and in gyms over the last month looking to fill his roster for the 2016-17 ACAC Women’s Basketball League season.
With the provincial high school 3A championships in Olds and the 4A finals in Red Deer it helped with the travel budget. But King also took time to attend the provincials in Saskatchewan.
His work has paid off as he has seven newcomers committed to next season, joining the six returnees.
“The important thing was to establish a strong core around the players like Emily White, Eva Bonde and Dedra Janvier,” he said. “We tried to compliment them as best we could.”
Six-foot-two White, who was the ACAC South Division rookie of the year and an all-star, and point guard Bonde are from Denmark and fill two of the team’s import slots. Janvier, who led the team in scoring last season, is returning for her fifth year.
“We’re excited to see Emily at 100 per cent healthy,” said King. “Evan at 80 per cent last year she turned out pretty good. At 100 per cent we expect her to take the team and lead it from the front. Allowing Emily to drive us will be great.
“Eva came in as a rookie last year and played over 30 minutes a game and did a great job considering it was a new system, a new coach and a new country. This year her comfort level will be a lot higher, which will make a huge difference.
“As for Dedra she can shoot the ball and is a great piece returning for her fifth season. I’m sure she wants to go out with a bang.”
Also returning are backup point guard Keitlyn Williams, wing Lauren Bailey and forward Shaylee Farren.
Of the seven new faces, two – Kiana Mintz and Mary Krause – played last season with the Olds College Broncos.
Mintz, originally from Medicine Hat, is a five-foot-11 small forward or wing while Krause, from Wetaskiwin, is a forward.
“I liked Kiana a lot when she was in high school and she fits well into our program,” said King. “She’s long, athletic and an aggressive scorer, something we need at that spot.”
Six-foot-three Riley Baquie from Olds Koinonia, Larissa Shannon from the provincial 4A champion St. Francis Browns of Calgary, and Kayla Guillet from Eagle Butte are other forwards among the recruits.
Larissa Wolitski from the Saskatchewan 2A provincial champion Wynard Bears and Brooke Kirkpatrick from Archbishop Jordan in Sherwood Park, are listed at guard.
King feels Wolitski may be the first of many players to come out of Saskatchewan.
“We have a solid alumni base in Saskatchewan and I met a lot of girls who would like to be part of the RDC program,” he said.
King has one international slot open which he hopes to fill shortly.
“There are a couple of girls who are really interested and we’re waiting for them to weigh their options. Once the NCAA signing date is over (on Saturday) we will have more of an idea. Then we can see who will help us the most.
“If we can find someone off the ball who will compliment some of our new additions and our returnees who can score as well as defend it will be ideal.”
Last season the Queens posted a 9-12 record and missed the playoffs by one game. King looks to improve on that this year although he knows it won’t be easy.
“You always look to improve, but the south promises to be a strong division once again,” he said. “But that’s good. You can’t get complacent. You always want to improve as we know everyone in our division will be doing so as well.”
King should have his final roster set before the end of May, then will start looking toward the following season.
“Once we wrap up by the middle or end of May we will start looking at recruits for the 2017-18 season,” he said. “We were lucky this year in that the 4A provincials were in Red Deer and the 3A in Olds so we got an opportunity to talk with a lot of the Grade 10 and 11 players and show we’re interested in them and why we’d like them to consider coming here. For those select girls we want to come to mind when they are in Grade 12.”