L-R Back: Leon Young (Student Athletic Therapist), Tyler Verde (Asst. Coach), Brett Burley (Asst. Coach), Dylan Marsden, Bryan Elder, Riley Botting, Bright Dododza, Dallas Hancox, Shaquille Maharaj, Isaiah Romanow, Mathew Hampton, Jake Wilmott, Scot Cuachon (Head Coach), Eduardo Contreras (Student Athletic Therapist). L-R Front: Walker Vandebovenkamp, Matthew Gray, Brandt Siebel, Ismail Abdulahi, Calvin Somers, Austin Somers. Missing: Matt Lumsdaine (Athletic Therapist), Kate Perry (Strength and Conditioning Coach)

The Camosun College Chargers men’s basketball team is excited to welcome several fresh new faces to the program following a significant turnover of graduating players from the 2016-17 season. Gone from last year’s fold is fourth-year guard Lucas Derksen, fifth-year forwards AJ Beaudry, Ted Neilson and Rulon Schmidt and fifth-year guard Evan Woodson who leaves the league as the sixth highest scorer in the history of the PACWEST.


“The fact that we’ve turned over so many guys allows us a really great opportunity to reset a bit and restructure the culture that we want,” says Chargers Head Coach Scot Cuachon. “We’re pleased that the guys have bought into what we’re trying to do as far as what we’re trying to build here which goes way past winning and losing.”


A revamped mix of eight newcomers and five returnees make up the Chargers 2017-18 squad which has also added two red-shirts to the bench.


Three student-athletes have suited up for the Chargers while beginning their studies in Camosun’s Bachelor of Sport and Fitness Leadership program. Camosun welcomes third-year forward Dallas Hancox from Red Deer, AB, second-year forward Shaquille Maharaj who hails from Perth, Australia and second-year guard Brandt Seibel who comes to Victoria from Ponoka, AB.


“We’re extremely happy about our recruiting,” comments Coach Cuachon. “Dallas had his choice of universities and colleges throughout BC, Alberta and down in the States, so we’re very happy that he chose to come to Camosun. He’ll push the culture here with his integrity and humility. Shaq is also a great addition for us. He played two years at Ohlone College in Fremont, CA. He’s a really good athlete and an intuitive player and is solid academically as well. We are also very pleased to have Brandt who transferred over from St. Mary’s in Calgary. We really tried to shore up our point guard spot after losing so many guys and the combination of Brandt with our other recruits – Ismail Abdulahi and Matthew Gray – will make us very effective in that position.”


Also joining the team is first-year forward and Business Administration student Bright Dododza from Surrey and a core of local recruits who have enrolled in the college’s University Transfer program. These include Oak Bay High grads Matthew Gray (second-year guard) and Isaiah Romanov (second-year forward) and from Lambrick Park, Ismail Abdulahi (second-year guard) and fraternal twins, Calvin (first-year guard) and Austin Somers (red shirt).


“We’re super excited to have both Matt and Isaiah join the team,” states Cuachon. “Matt was a top prospect coming out of high school at Oak Bay and went to Mt. Royal University his first year out. He decided to take a year off and came back to Victoria so we put the pitch to him pretty hard and we are very lucky to have him. He’s the quintessential point guard in my opinion. Isaiah is also out of Oak Bay and is a really tough, exciting young player. It’s very rare that a guy is ready to play coming right out of high school, especially as a forward which is a really physical position, but he’s looking good and we’re excited to see what he does.”


“Austin Somers unfortunately tore his ACL over the summer so he’s going to be a medical red shirt for us this year. But when he’s healthy, he’s going to be something special. Same for his twin brother Calvin who injured his back. He’s one of the top shooters in the province so we’re really excited to see him once he’s healed and ready to go.”


Coach Cuachon added, “Bright Dododza is also someone who we are looking forward to get on the floor. Bright comes to us from one of the top programs on the Mainland and he also played prep school down in North Carolina before coming up here. He’s currently nursing a broken ankle but will hopefully be back soon.”


Making a return to the program are fourth-year veterans Riley Botting, forward (Business Admin) and Dylan Marsden, guard (BSFL) along with third-year guard/forward Mathew Hampton (UT) from Oak Bay. Coming back for their second year are Chargers guards Jake Wilmott (UT) and Walker Vandebovenkamp (BSFL) while Bryan Elder from Esquimalt (UT) will red-shirt.


“Jake is looking great,” states Coach Cuachon. “The coaching that he had through Ian Hyde Lay at SMUS is really showing. He picks up things very quickly and he is very efficient. We anticipate that he will play a pretty large role for us this year.”


“Our veterans are definitely playing a leadership role. Dylan is our elder statesman. He had a great off-season and he’s the first guy to take any initiative with anyone or anything that we’re trying to do in the group. He has played a leadership role for the past few years but now with the turnover, there are some bigger opportunities for him to continue on with it. Riley is unquestionably one of our leaders on the floor and a guy that our people look up to. Mat is just coming off a hamstring injury but he’s finally back on the floor and playing and we expect a lot of big things from him this year, both being a leader on the team and being one of the older guys. He certainly leads by action and example.”


The Chargers also welcome two new assistant coaches to the program, Brett Burley and Tyler Verde. Burley is a Lambrick Park grad and played for a top Division I school in the NCAA (Wichita State) before transferring to play his last year at U of C. Verde is a recent University of Victoria grad and is currently teaching at Spectrum.


“There’s a lot of great energy between Brett and Tyler and the players,” says Cuachon. Both coaches know their stuff and the guys have responded to them really well. They’re a terrific staff and I think we balance each other out really well and it should translate into how the team looks.”


The Chargers basketball teams head up Island to open the 2017-18 PACWEST basketball season against the VIU Mariners in Nanaimo on Thursday, November 9 with the webcast running on SportsCanadaTV. On Saturday, the squads are back in Victoria and tip off against the Columbia Bible College Bearcats in their home openers at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence gymnasium on Camosun’s Interurban campus.


Thursday, Nov. 9                CAM at VIU          Women 6pm; Men 8pm   VIU Campus Gymnasium, Nanaimo

Saturday, Nov. 11              CBC at CAM         Women 1pm; Men 3pm    Camosun Interurban Campus, PISE Gym


“VIU always fields a good group,” says Cuachon. “They’re always strong and they have a great staff up there. In all honesty, we’ve really tried to just focus on us. We have a goal every day to be the best versions of ourselves and we have bought into the fact that until we can do that consistently, we’re not ready to talk about other teams yet. But what people will see is a very cohesive group that really fights for each other and works together. As long as we can follow our values and our purpose, good things will happen throughout the year.”