By Bonita Joe, Camosun Communications

Victoria (ISN) – With their 2011-12 PACWEST Provincial Championship Bronze medal finish firmly inked into the archives, the Camosun College Chargers men’s basketball team is back to business assembling a new squad for the Fall with five outstanding Island All-Stars signed to the 2012-13 program.

Joining the Chargers from Cowichan Secondary is 2012 Island All-Star Mitch Knippleberg. Knippleberg will be among those to watch for this season as he plays out his rookie year with Camosun and the PACWEST Athletic Association. Having earned an outstanding academic and athletic record throughout his high school career, Knippleberg has demonstrated that he is capable of being the all-around student-athlete. He was an Honor Roll student from Grades 7-12 and was a member of the BC Provincial Team as an U14, U15, U16 and U17. It is anticipated that Knippleberg’s experience as a Team BC player and 2010 and 2011 participant at the Provincial Championships with the Cowichan Thunderbirds will be a great asset for this year’s program.

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Cowichan’s Mitch Knippleberg will be in the Charger’s backcourt this fall (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).

The Chargers also welcome upcoming grads and members of the 2012 Island Champion Oak Bay Bays, 1st Team Island All-Star Evan Woodson and 2nd Team Island All-Star Kazutoki Kobayashi. Both athletes played for the Bays in their senior high school years and were participants in the 2011 and 2012 Provincial Championships with Kobayashi playing in the 2012 BC Provincial All-Star game. This year, Woodson was named a City High School All-Star while Kobayashi earned the designation in both 2011 and 2012.

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Oak Bay’s Kaz Kobayashi will stay close to home and patrol the backcourt for Camosun this fall (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).

Graduating this June from Mount Doug and suiting up for the Chargers in the Fall is 6’6” post player Curtis Wilson. Wilson was a member of the University of Victoria Junior Vikes and in 2011, played for the Victoria Prep Team. Playing for the Rams in his graduating year, Wilson was named a City High School All-Star as well as a 1st Team Island All-Star and participated in the 2012 Provincial Championship and the 2012 Provincial All–Star game.

Desmond Slack joins the Chargers following his graduation from Claremont High in 2011 and a year focusing on his studies at Camosun. In 2011, Slack earned a City High School All-Star and a 2nd Team Island All-Star.

With the exception of Curtis Wilson, the new recruits will be taking over a number of open spots left by last season’s guards. Kobayashi will join third-year veteran Jordan Elvedahl (2011-12 PACWEST 2nd Team All-Star and CCAA Academic All-Canadian) at the point position while wing men Knippleberg, Woodson and Slack join forces with second-year student-athletes Drake Downer (Oak Bay) and Igor Jesovnik (Sarajevo, BIH).

Completing the list of returnees are Prab Parmar (second-year forward from Spectrum), Rulon Schmidt (third-year forward from Cowichan Secondary) and Trevor Scheurmann (second-year forward from Winnipeg who earned a 2011-12 PACWEST All-Rookie Team).

“The past season our league was as strong as it has been in the five years I have been at Camosun,” said Chargers Head Coach Craig Price. “With the defection of UNBC to the CIS and numerous coaching changes around the league, I think we are in as good a position as any team in the league to be successful.“

Should the Chargers repeat qualifying for the playoffs this year, the benefit of having a home court advantage may also play into the picture as Camosun hosts the PACWEST Provincial Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.

The event, which runs for three days over February 28 – March 2, 2013, will showcase the top 12 intercollegiate teams in the Province (six men’s and six women’s) with the gold medalists advancing to the National Championships. This will be Camosun’s first opportunity in 19 years of membership with the PACWEST to host the Provincial Basketball Championships.

“We are very excited and proud to be hosting this year’s championship and showcasing this level of basketball,” said Camosun Recreation and Athletics Coordinator Graham Matthews. “Victoria has a very strong basketball community from which many young players have come through and we hope to see people of all ages in the stands to be a part of this event.”