The Camosun Chargers Men’s Basketball Team will tip-off against the Capilano University Blues this Friday, in their 2019-20 PACWEST home opener at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE).
Securing a spot on the 2019 Fall semester roster are six first-year student-athletes and eight veterans, while two red-shirts wait in the wings. Basketball fans and aficionados residing in the capital city region will have plenty to cheer about as 12 of the team’s 16 athletes hail from Victoria.
“We usually have a lot of local guys,” says Chargers Men’s Basketball Head Coach Scot Cuachon. “We believe that the strength of any team is in their local recruiting and there’s a lot of basketball players here. We can’t take them all, obviously, but we appreciate the talent that’s been built here and want to do what we can as a program to help players get to that next level.”
Suiting up for their first post-secondary season are Chargers guards Sheldon Crisp (Shawnigan Lake) and Austin Somers (Lambrick Park), and 6’9” forward Jonathon Martens (Spectrum)– all who move up the ranks from red-shirting last season. The Chargers also welcome Takeshi Croke (Reynolds), Eric Lees (Prince Rupert), and Shakir Nasim (Claremont) who also begin their intercollegiate careers at Camosun.
“Our new guys are going to be really good,” states Cuachon. “Two players that I think were overlooked by a lot of teams are Takeshi and Eric. Takeshi is one of the best athletes to come out of the Island in the past little while from a basketball stand-point. He had an offer to play soccer for UVic which he turned down to come here. With Eric, while there’s going to be a step-up in competition for him, he’s built a great foundation of skill and discipline from what he learned from Head Coach Mel Bishop up in Prince Rupert. He’s an incredible athlete, and has already shown that he will be a great student and team mate.”
“Jonathon Martens is another new local guy who is going to make an impact,” adds Coach Cuachon. “He just turned 19 and while he’s close to 6’9”, he’s still growing. He spent a lot of time in the gym this summer and will be playing some significant minutes for us.”
After being sidelined with injuries for the past two years, Austin Somers joins his twin brother, Calvin Somers (second-year guard), on the Chargers roster. The twins were coached by their father, Ed Somers, who led Lambrick Park to six provincial 2A titles.
“Austin is hungry to play,” says Coach Cuachon. “Having rehabbed from surgery, I know he’s excited to get out there. Calvin played his first year with us last season after red-shirting for his first year because of a back and shoulder issue. Both have put so much time into getting to this point, and they finally get to play their first post-secondary year together. They have a skill set that is conducive to the modern game and you couldn’t ask for two better people. I’m very excited to see what they do with us this season.”
Seven veterans will bring a wealth of experience to the team this Fall. Returning in their third-year are student-athletes, Isaiah Romanow (Oak Bay), who is expected to have a break-out year, and forward, Trey Crust (Lambrick Park), who will be playing a big role for the Chargers to fill in minutes for Dallas Hancox (PACWEST 1st Team All-Star and Chargers Team MVB) who is off for the year.
Reinforcing the list of veterans are fourth-year athletes Matt Gray (Oak Bay), Andrew Larson (Cowichan Secondary), Shaquille Maharaj (Perth, Australia) and Thompson Rivers University transfer, Madhu McConnell (Oak Bay). Playing his fifth and final season is Atlas St. Paul-Butler (Oak Bay) who transferred to Camosun from playing in U Sports for the last four years at Grant McEwan in Edmonton.
“Atlas, Madhu, Matt and Isaiah are all Oak Bay products, and have all played together in some capacity,” states Coach Cuachon. “Atlas, Madhu and Matt pretty much played their entire high school careers together with some really good success. Like Head Coach Mel Bishop, Oak Bay’s Coach Chris Franklin just keeps pouring out these guys right out of high school who are ready to go and ready to play. They know how to practice, they know the game, and their situational awareness and understanding is second to none. Having this great start and now coming in with three years of post-secondary experience, these four guys will be very solid for us.”
“We’re really glad to have Andrew back, he’s kind of our elder statesman. It might take him a game or two to get his feet underneath him after being away with medical issues, but he’s a fantastic athlete and he’s stayed in shape over the time he’s been off and his skills have gotten so much better.”
“Shaq is another player we’re happy to have back. He was contacted by a professional scout from the Chinese Basketball Association this summer and ran through some camps and met several agents. He has a really bright future to play professionally and I honestly think that he can do so right now, but he made a commitment when we recruited him to finish his Bachelor’s degree in Sport and Fitness Leadership before he moves on, and he’s holding himself to it. He and Matt Gray are our co-captains and we’re expecting both to have a really strong year.”
Red-shirting for the team are James Scott who comes to Camosun to take up studies in the BSFL program after graduating from Brock University with a degree in Kinesiology, and Charger Jake Wilmott who will return to play his fourth year with the program in January.
“Jake is one of the most intelligent players I’ve ever met,” says Coach Cuachon. “Graduating from St. Michael’s University and having been coached by Ian Hyde-Lay is an irreplaceable experience. Jake is a natural leader, guys look up to him and rightfully so. He is a utility guy and understands basketball to such a high degree that you could just plug him into just about any position, and with or without the ball, he’s going to help you.”
Coach Cuachon is confident that the styles and strengths of this year’s squad will create a lot of excitement that fans can count on.
“We have a team that has speed and skill and that really enjoys playing together,” he states. “Remember that 90% of these guys have played together either in high school or in club ball or Team BC events. They’re all around the same age and they’ve competed against each other in the city, on the Island and around the province. Their chemistry is already fantastic, so while we have new guys per se, they know each other very well and you’re going to see a really cohesive unit that strives to get out there and succeed.”
The Chargers Basketball teams begin the 2019-20 season this Friday in their home openers PISE on Camosun’s Interurban campus.
Be one of the first 50 fans to either the men’s or women’s game on Friday, Nov. 1 and receive a FREE Chargers Fanwear t-shirt!
Fri. Nov. 1 Women 6pm Men 8pm Camosun Chargers host Capilano University Blues
Sat. Nov. 2 Women 1pm Men 3pm Camosun Chargers host Douglas College Royals
Watch the live webcast on PACWESTBC.TV