Last year’s edition of the RDC Kings was able to sneak up on the rest of the Alberta Colleges Men’s Basketball League at the end of the season.
As a result they finished second in the ACAC playoffs to Mount Royal University and eventually finished an impressive fourth at the Canadian finals.
Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger isn’t sure they’ll be able to sneak up on anyone this season.
“Maybe they’ll forget about us again,” he said with a laugh.
“But really I doubt it. Last year we were able to operate with little pressure, but this year I expect we’ll have to perform well night-in and night-out.”
The Kings have only four players back from last year’s squad, but four of their premier players, including outstanding forward Rob Pierce.
It wasn’t known if Pierce would be back, but it worked out at the last minute he was able to return and it benefited both himself and the team.
“It certainly never hurts when one of your star players is able to return,” said Pottinger, who also has point guard Lloyd Strickland, shooting guard Jacob Cusumano and forward Joel Carroll back.
Both Strickland and Cusumano started last season while Carroll joined the team late and was a key performer off the bench.
Pierce was third in scoring in the ACAC South Division with 18.3 points per game and was first in rebounds (10.83 per game) while picking up 1.52 steals per start.
Strickland led the south with 5.0 assists per game while contributing 10.3 points and 1.74 steals. Cusumano averaged 8.35 points.
“It nice to have four guys back who were a factor in what we did last year, but we still have some holes to fill with both Eric (Bakker) and Sarain (Soonias) gone,” added Pottinger, who has a pair of imports on the roster in six-foot-three guard David Poole of Detroit and six-foot-six Daniel Bass of Northern California.
Poole can play both the point and shooting guard while Bass gives the Kings strength inside.
Overall Pottinger has 15 players in camp and could add two more next week.
“There are a couple of guys we’re looking at who are in the trades program and won’t be in until next week,” he explained.
Two of his top recruits from Alberta — six-foot-four forward Brian Prenosio and five-foot-10 point guard Matt Johnson — have impressed in the early going.
Johnson will backup Strickland, something needed at the nationals last season.
“Lloyd was playing 36 minutes and it was tough on him, as it was with several of the other guys we needed to keep on the court,” said Pottinger, who used both Pierce and Bakker for close to 40 minutes and Cusumano for 32 minutes a game.
“We need that extra depth, so we can keep the guys fresh,” added Pottinger, who also expects five-foot-10 guard Ashaunti Hogan to step in and also get a contribution from six-foot-seven 265-pound Sam Lolik and local grad Pete Kwasny.
“Sam has been out of the game for a while and is working on getting his conditioning up, but he’s been killing it inside during workouts,” said Pottinger, who expects the ACAC’s South Division to be a battle.
“Mount Royal is gone (to the CIS), but there’s still a lot of good teams in the south and there’s two new teams (Olds and St. Mary’s of Calgary). Olds could have a couple of players from Russia and are trying ti make an immediate impact.”
The Kings play in Edmonton in a preseason ACAC/CIS Showcase tournament Sept. 28-30 meeting Medicine Hat, the University of Alberta and Augustana. They host their tournament Oct. 11-13 and open league play Oct. 26 at home against Grant MacEwan.