Women’s basketball stays close to home by signing three Kamloops recruits

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December 11, 2013, Kamloops, BC (ISN) – The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack try to recruit the best local athletes if they are available. The WolfPack soccer teams have had great success with Kamloops products in the past and now the women’s basketball team is following suit.

Head coach Scott Reeves and the WolfPack are announcing three soon-to-be graduates of the very successful South Kamloops Secondary Titans program as his latest recruits.

Guards Emma Piggin and Kanesha Reeves along with forward Emily Vilac have signed letters of intent to join Thompson Rivers beginning September 2014. All three girls will be enrolled in courses with an eye to a Bachelor of Science degree.

All three players were part of the South Kamloops team which won the BC “AAA” High School Girls championship in 2013. They are very familiar to each other. Vilac and Reeves have been teammates since grade six. Piggin joined the duo a year later.

“We have really created a bond as friends and teammates,” says the 5’7″ Reeves. ” I think it will benefit the WolfPack through our previous connection.”

Reeves considers herself to be a decent shooter and improve upon her decision making over her five year CIS career.

“My strengths are that I am a decent three point shooter,” Vilac explains. ” I can rebound and am a good team player. I know what I have to work on and will put a lot of effort into being a better player.”

Piggin says the three complement each other on the court. ” I normally bring the ball up the floor. Kanesha takes the shots and Emily gets the rebounds. But Emily can shoot very well too. All three of us work so well together. Whoever takes the shot, the other two will be there to get the rebound. We have a great amount of trust in each other.”

The three have won at the high school level but also at the club level through the Kamloops Basketball Academy ‘Young Guns” program. Reeves hopes to continue that tradition at TRU. ” No wins are guaranteed anywhere,” she says. ” TRU has made it to playoffs in recent years. I hope to bring them the winning experience and eventually going to a national championship.

“It is pretty incredible that all three of us could come to University together, “Piggin states. ” We have been teammates for so long. Continuing to play the sport we love for the next five years and under Scott is even better.”

” I really like the girls here,” says Reeves, who grew up watching the WolfPack as her dad has been the coach at Thompson Rivers for the last eight seasons. ” I have gotten to know them over the years. The school is just the right size for me and I love the city.”

She doesn’t believe that she and the other South Kam girls will have trouble adjusting to life with the WolfPack. “I think the veterans will welcome us. It is going to be a nice transition from high school to university as a whole.”

“The girls (veterans) seem really open to helping me out,” say Piggin, who has trained in the off season with TRU athletes under the direction of Athletic Therapist Kevin Brechin. ” I have made good friendships with them and have gotten to know Taiysa (Worsfold, 3rd year, forward, Kamloops, BC) through that and the Kamloops Basketball Academy. That relationship will help with getting used to university life.”

“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to come to TRU,” states Vilac. ” Growing up watching the games here since I was in grade six, I kind of knew this would be the best place for me to go to school and play basketball.”

” I am looking forward to continuing to play basketball in front of my parents and grandparents,” Piggin, who is 5’8″ says. “I am looking forward to wearing the orange, black and white for the next five years. My dad is so into it and its really important to him to watch me play.”

Piggin, Reeves and Vilac have not only benefitted from Scott Reeves as a club coach over the years but by the time they graduate in June, will have spent two seasons under the direction of Ken Olynyk. Not only is Ken the Athletic Director at Thompson Rivers but is also a very respected former CIS coach. He has this assessment of the three: ” Emma is a very good athlete and has the potential to be a strong point guard at the CIS level. Kanesha is an outstanding shooter and as she develops aspects of her game, will become a valuable asset to the WolfPack. Emily is a stretch 4 in the CIS and should be able to add perimeter scoring and open the middle for the post players. But at 6’2″, she also has the ability to play in that post.”

He adds that Piggin possesses great speed which puts pressure on defenses, Reeves is a flat out shooter with range beyond the three point line and runs the floor well while VIlac is very versatile who can defend in the post, knock down three point shots, put the ball on the floor and attack the basket.

“I think going to CIS will be a huge adjustment,” Piggin states. ” The game is a lot faster and more serious. I will be the freshmen and not the senior on the team. It is nothing that I am worried about. TRU was foremost in my mind. I didn’t think of going anywhere else.”

Reeves says she is ready for the challenge of being a CIS athlete. ” I think I am ready. For sure travelling a lot will be the biggest challenge. Trying to do homework on the road and in hotels is difficult at times but I think high school has taught me to work through it.”

Olynyk has this long range forecast for the three. “” Naturally, we hope they are impact players by their third year for us. This would mean our program is doing well and progressing. I think each of them will have the opportunity to play as first year players and contribute on the court. There is always a learning curve as you move up the levels of competition and there will be one for each of the girls. Each will have the chance to be mentored by one of the senior players at their position next year which will benefit their growth and likewise, their contribution to their program.

Growing up and watching the WolfPack over the years, the three have tried to emulate some current and former TRU Players. “Sarah Cameron for me was someone I looked up to,” said Reeves. ” When we lived in Abbotsford and my dad coached at Brookswood she played for him. Diane Schuetze is an excellent role model. She is the first TRU player to play professionally. It is incredible that she has played in Australia and Belgium.”

In addition, the three seem ready to become entrenched in the WolfPack’s commitment to community involvement. ” I am ready for the pressure,” Reeves states. ” I want kids to come up and say ‘there is the hometown girl’ that is coming to play for TRU. I am ready for that.”

“This will be a really cool experience,’ Vilac adds. ” Growing up, I watched Taiysa and Jen Ju (former WolfPack guard from Vancouver, BC) and those players. Now the idea that I will soon be a role model to other young basketball girls in the community is something that I am really looking forward to trying to do.”

The three join Michelle Bos (guard, Surrey, BC, Holy Cross Secondary) as the first four recruits for TRU for the coming season.

DOUBLE DRIBBLES: Vilac was a teammate of Bos’ with Team BC a few years ago.

Scott Reeves on the three Kamloops recruits: ” Emma has a point guard mentality and will do very well learning our offense from Jorri (Duxbury, 4th year, guard, Salmon Arm, BC) next year. She is a longer guard who can rebound and defend some of the taller guards we have in Canada West. Emily is a true 6’2″ and could grow taller than that. Emily can lay on the perimeter and shoot the three. Her range and size will be a real advantage for us. Kanesha has worked extremely hard at her perimeter shooting and will help extend defenses.”

He adds: “It’s really nice to sign three local student athletes that I have coached for years. All of these girls are straight “A” students and people. Kamloops will be proud of the commitment these three will make to playing for their hometown University.”

Putting on his Athletic Directors hat, Olynyk says: ” All three are good students and will bring “Kamloops to our program’. These three have been involved in TRU extension programs through coach Reeves for the past six or seven years and this will allow them to fit into his system immediately. I think each brings something different to our program and TRU which allows us to recruit three individuals from one high school team for a university club such as ours.”

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