Capilano ready to compete for gold in 2017-18

Capilano ready to compete for gold in 2017-18

On the heels of a silver medal at last season’s PACWEST Championships, the Capilano University men’s basketball team has retooled and is ready to compete for gold in 2018.

Heading into his third season at the helm of the Blues, Cassidy Kannemeyer has brought in nine new faces to join a solid core of returners. With a blend of speed, height, and toughness, CapU expects improve on last season’s 10-8 regular season record and again be a contender in a PACWEST conference that saw every team make improvements over the offseason.

Among the returners is second-year Wowie Untalan, who was last season’s PACWEST Rookie of the Year. The Delta native took over the point guard duties for the Blues and quickly established himself as one of the top young playmakers in the conference, finishing third in the league for assists with 3.13 per game, while also averaging 8.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. In the playoffs, he averaged 10.7 points and 6.0 assists over the three games.

Fourth-year guard Hassan Phills also returns after being named a PACWEST Tournament All-Star at the 2017 Provincials. The guard averaged 19.7 points per game in the playoffs last year and over a steal per game in the regular season, and will again be counted on to provide energy and leadership on both sides of the floor.

Rounding out the returners from last season are third-year forward Niko Mottus, who averaged 7.5 points and 4.6 boards per game, and Grady Huskisson, a second-year guard from West Vancouver. Point guard Brenden Bailey also rejoins the Blues after a year away, and his work ethic and attitude have already helped lift the Blues – with Kannemeyer calling him a “true X-Factor” in a Capilano Courier article.

The fresh faces for Capilano provide them depth at every position. At forward, three players are at least 6’7”, and all provide a different look in the paint. Six-foot-seven Nathan Bromige joins the Blues from Lord Byng Secondary, and won a bronze medal at the 2016 nationals with the BC U17 Provincials Team. His athleticism can cause fits for opponents, and it was on display back in April when he was a finalist in the dunk contest at the BC High School All-Star Weekend.

Six-foot-nine centre Milidrag Stupar will be a force under the net on both sides of the court, and could be one of the top defensive players in the league due to his wingspan. At 6’8”, former Handsworth Royal Amir Hajisafar will also be a tough presence in the paint.

Transferring to Capilano for his fourth year of post-secondary ball is Denver Sparks-Guest. The 6’5” forward spent two seasons playing NCAA Division 2 basketball at Simon Fraser University and one in the CIS with the University of the Fraser Valley – where last season he averaged 8.1 points per game and a 37.7% mark from beyond the arc. Also at the forward position is Hakeem Crooks, a 6’5” rookie from Mississauga, Ontario who has impressed in the preseason.

Rounding out the Blues in the backcourt is a group of guards who all expect to make an immediate impact. North Vancouver’s Michael Kelly will be one of the team’s best weapons from beyond the arc, as the St. Thomas Aquinas grad finished second in the three-point contest at the All-Star Weekend. In 2017, Kelly was a recipient of the prestigious Quinn Keast Foundation's Howe Sound Scholarship, given annually to the "most complete player" of the Howe Sound Tournament in each of the AA, AAA, and AAAA Divisions – becoming the fifth future-Capilano Blue to earn the award. "Michael is the type of player who is consistently asked to guard the opponent's best player. Although he is the leading scorer on his team, it's his ability to get his teammates involved that makes him special. Off the court, Michael has mentored younger basketball players and has won the Citizenship Award twice at STA. He is a leader both on the court and off the court," stated his write-up on the Quinn Keast site.

Killarney Secondary grad Kiante Knight proved himself to be one of the most explosive guards in the province last year, as he was named BC’s top high school dunker. The 6’2” guard has also excelled on the defensive end, being named Most Outstanding Defensive Player at the 2015 Telus Jr. Boys Provincial Championship.

Two other lockdown defenders for CapU will be CJ Campbell and Jack Teny. A 6’2” guard from Burnaby South Secondary, Campbell was a First Team All-Star on the Lower Mainland in each of the past two seasons, and was also Burnaby & New Westminster Secondary Schools Athletic Association (BNWSSAA) First Team All-Star in 2017. For Teny, he was named team MVP at Coquitlam’s Pinetree Secondary in 2013, 2014, and 2016, and Kannemeyer believes that his size and athleticism will make him an impact player in the PACWEST.

After a tough preseason schedule, the Blues have been itching to get their regular season underway on their home court. Capilano takes on Quest University on November 10 at 8:00pm in the Sportsplex, and then Langara College on November 11 at 7:00pm. The full schedule can be viewed here.