Gil Cheung is bringing back a blast from the past.
The head coach of the Brandon University Bobcats men’s basketball team has announced that 6-foot-7 American import Isaiah James will rejoin the team this fall for his fourth year of eligibility after taking a year off from school following his team MVP performance in 2010-11. Cheung expects James to be an instant impact player, particularly on the defensive end.
"I anticipate him being one of the better defenders in the country, and he’s that energy guy for us that can get up and down the court," Cheung said. "And I think with the personnel that we have brought in and guys that we have developed, I think he is going to excel on both ends of the floor. He’s a top-notch rebounder, a great athlete and shot-blocker, and I think with Ilarion (Bonhomme), Emerick (Ravier) and Ali (Benabdelhak) ... with the people that we have surrounded him with this time around, he will get out in transition and finish above the rim."
James was Cheung’s first import recruit two seasons ago in Cheung’s first season at the helm of the Bobcats, averaging 8.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while leading the team with an impressive .520 shooting percentage. James also racked up a team-leading 40 blocks (second-best in Canada West) and 42 steals (11th in the league) before taking a season off to work full-time back home in San Jose, Calif.
James kept in touch with his former Bobcat teammates like Jordan Reaves, and is anxious to rejoin the club and finish his education.
"I missed it last year," James said via telephone. "I kept in contact with Jordan Reaves the whole time, and he was a really big influence on trying to get me back there ... (Cheung) has been building the team and that was evident last year in the improvement that they had during the season and I just can’t wait to come back and do my part."
A former co-MVP of the California Coast Conference during his two seasons of junior college at San Jose City College, James will join Bonhomme — a 5-foot-11 second-year point guard from Washington, D.C., who was named the Canada West rookie of the year — to fill the Bobcats’ two import spots on the roster. Import forward Eric Schippers, who averaged only 2.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, will red-shirt this fall and help out in a coaching capacity with the Bobcats.
James joins 6-foot-7, 276-pound post Peterson Suffrard and 6-foot-4, 190-pound small forward Jude Molin as the third recruit to this year’s Bobcats, who are expected to return 12 players — including three red-shirts — from a team that looks to improve upon the 7-13 record it posted last season.
"I am very excited and I can’t wait to be a part of it," James said.