Red Deer College Kings basketball coach Clayton Pottinger speaks with Derian Valdes on Thursday. Valdes is one of six new players signed to the team for next season. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

RDC hoops coach has his hands full

Recruiting may seem like an easy job.

The coach watches the player, talks with him or her, offers a spot on the team and hopes they take it.

It’s not that easy. Just ask RDC Kings basketball head coach Clayton Pottinger.

Pottinger not only does all the above, but takes time to screen all his prospects, looking for players who fit into RDC and his program.

“There’s always a lot to do,” he said. “I talk with the parents and coaches, who are obviously positive about the kid. I also talk with his instructors and then opposing coaches to see what their scouting report is on the kid.

“With the guys I’ve signed so far this year there has been zero red flags. I’m hoping I did a good job vetting the guys and they’re good guys, which they seem to be.”

Pottinger has signed six new players so far, although one of the six — Eric Bakker — is returning to RDC after being away for five years.

One thing is that Bakker fits perfectly into what Pottinger is looking for.

“He’s smart, athletic and can shoot. He can play a multiple of positions and he will be part of the leadership we need to recapture some of our championship form. He’ll be the lone returnee from our championship years.”

Bakker, who has two years of eligibility remaining, last played in the 2011-12 season. He was second on the team in scoring and rebounding his last two seasons.

The other Canadian recruits are six-foot-five guard Karn Toor from Harry Ainlay in Edmonton, six-foot-nine Lucas Smith from Eastglen in Edmonton and six-foot-four Derian Valdes from Calgary Sir Winston Churchill.

All three have been out of school for at least a year. Toor attended the University of Alberta last year, while Lucas was at a prep school in New York State and Valdes spent two years at a U.S. prep school.

“Derian may be our biggest recruit,” said Pottinger. “He was heavily recruited coming out of Churchill and then this year he received a number offers from universities and colleges and luckily he picked us. He can play any position and is highly skilled.”

Pottinger also added a pair of imports in six-foot-seven Greek native Nikos Papavasileiou, who transferred in from Lakeland, and six-foot-one guard Solon Ellis, who attended the University of Wisconsin Stout.

“Nikos gives us size, but also likes to play with speed, which fits our style,” said Pottinger. “Solon is an excellent passer and from what we’ve seen a leader.

“As well Solon’s mother is Canadian and we put in the papers to have him play as a Canadian. If so it gives us another import slot.”

As it is, Pottinger has a spot open after losing all three of his American imports.

Gone are Ian Tevis, who was the ACAC player of the year last season, guard Kai Greene and forward Anthony Robbs.

“Ian is looking to turn pro and has some feelers from Brazil and Korea,” said Pottinger. “Other than that we’re had some success the last few years, but no championships and we feel maybe it’s time to blow it up a bit and bring in new blood. And at the same time retaining our local contingent. Last year we had five rookies and four from Central Alberta.

“Our commitment is to bring in local kids and now it’s up to them to continue to grow and work at improving.”

Local athletes to return will be guard Cody White of Notre Dame and forwards Zach Morgan of Hunting Hills and Kevin Szymanek of Stauffer, who played at David Thompson.

“Cody is the first recruit out of the Central Alberta club program and is still developing, but showed lot last year when he get a chance to play because of injuries. This summer will be pivotal for him as he works on his strength and conditioning. As for Zach I think he has the potential to be an all-star.”

Lindsay Thurber grad Spencer Klassen returns for a third season and Jabin Binnendyk of Penhold could also be back. Other veterans include guards Khurram Sultan and Darryl Broderick and forward Dillan Sutherland. As well Chris Schulz of Olds, who red shirted, will also be on hand.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at


Red Deer College Kings basketball coach Clayton Pottinger speaks with Karn Toor of Edmonton. Toor is one of six new players signed to the team for next season. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

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