Gil Cheung, the head coach of the Brandon University Bobcats men’s basketball team, knows he has a lot of work to rebuild his team’s front court for next season and he got started on Thursday.
Cheung, who lost three big forwards in Jordan Reaves, Isaiah James and James Elias to graduation, has landed his first recruit of the season in 6-foot-7 power forward Ryan Cowley.
The 17-year-old, who is finishing his final year of high school in Delta, B.C., brings a bit of experience with him as he was on British Columbia’s under-17 team that competed in the 2013 Canada Summer Games and was named one of the top 25 graduating basketball players in B.C., in a poll of coaches conducted by The Province newspaper in Vancouver.
Cheung also likes Cowley’s size and speed and thinks he can develop into an impact player in the future.
"He’s a legitimate post threat," Cheung said. "He exchanges ends very well, plays extremely hard, seals well, uses his body well. I’ve worked him out twice when I was on various trips out to B.C., to recruit at college nationals and a provincial tournament out there. Good hands, but he seals, he’s physical and works extremely hard. Good footwork for a high school kid as well and has potential to be pretty good."
Cowley capped his high school career by averaging 18.1 points and 11.2 rebounds per game this season.
He considered numerous schools but chose Brandon for the chance to experience a new area of Canada and because of Cheung. Cowley felt he would fit in well at BU academically and athletically, and he also heard a lot of positive things about his new head coach from people in B.C.
"I just think it’s going to be a good fit academically as well as on the court for basketball just because the coaching standpoint is so important to me," Cowley said. "… There’s so many people that I value as mentors who have said amazing things about (Cheung) and it’s quite clear that he’s a really good coach."
It sounds like Cowley will fit into the culture of hard work Bobcat players have built. It’s common to see players like point guard Ilarion Bonhomme come back early from their summer break to work with Cheung and spend extra time in the gym.
Putting in extra work is something Cowley prides himself on. He plans to play in Drive Basketball’s spring program, which is founded by former national team member Pasha Bains, to stay active and keep his feel, and hit the gym to prepare for his first university season.
"I love getting in the gym and spending the extra hours there because I always believe there’s someone out there putting in extra hours when you’re sleeping in at seven in the morning," Cowley said. "That’s just what I know I can bring (to the Bobcats) and bring a physical aspect to the game of basketball."
While Cheung hopes that Cowley will be able to play some key minutes next season and develop into a solid player in the future, he knows he has a lot more pieces to put in place.
Cheung hopes to sign about five more players this summer and is focused on getting more forwards.
"It will be really difficult to replace the post players and the bigs that we lost just because of the experience they have, being fifth-year kids, but Ryan is definitely someone who has potential to have an impact at Brandon University," Cheung said. "… It’s definitely a position we’re still recruiting. We’re recruiting a couple kids for a power forward and a centre."