For the second straight year, Gil Cheung has picked up a pair of players from Montreal.
One year after bringing in Ali-Mounir Benabdelhak and Pacome Matulu from La Belle Province, the head coach of the Brandon University Bobcats men’s basketball team has successfully recruited 6-foot-7, 276-pound forward Peterson Suffrard and 6-foot-4, 190-pound swingman Jude Molin.
A pair of former high school standouts who have been working and playing senior men’s basketball for the past couple of years, the 23-year-olds will enter BU as mature students and could make an instant impact on the roster.
"They were looking for an opportunity to get their degree, get an education and play," Cheung said. "They are very interested in our phys ed program and it helps that they do know Ali and Pacome. Ali and Pacome have been great for us and that definitely helped us in the recruiting process and they are just excited to go to school and basketball and take advantage of this opportunity."
The Montrealers will replace 6-foot-4 small forwards Kyle Vince and Donovan Gayle, who have completed their five years of eligibility.
"They definitely fit a need for us," Cheung said. "And the biggest thing we found was we struggled a little bit against bigger, stronger and more physical teams and Peterson gives us that inside, physical presence and he’s just a tough kid, the guy who wants to bang and do anything necessary, whether it’s rebounding, if it’s defending, if it’s scoring down low, he just gives us that guy that is willing to do all that for us ...
"Jude, he’s much the same as Ali, maybe an inch shorter. He’s just a strong, strong slasher, an athlete who is very active on the glass and can really score in transition. But both these guys, I think the best thing they bring to us is they have that physical and mental toughness that I think will definitely help our team out and help keep moving this program forward."
The Bobcats only lose two players from the 15 in the program, including three players who red-shirted in 2011-12 when the Bobcats posted a 7-13 record and missed the playoffs while Cheung completely rebuilt his roster.
With Emerick Ravier (16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game) returning from knee surgery and the likes of Mounir (13.6 points and 8.1 rebounds), Canada West rookie of the year Ilarion Bonhomme (12.2 points and 4.2 rebounds) and Jordan Reaves (9.1 points and 5.2 rebounds) leading a deep crop of returnees, Cheung only plans to make a handful of additions this year.
"We have a good and young nucleus," said Cheung, who will have nine returnees in their first, second or third years of eligibility. "We’re not planning for a quick fix or an overnight success type of thing.
"We are trying to build a program with young players and our core is first and second and a couple of third-year kids, with Jordan Reaves and James Elias being fourth-year kids, so our nucleus is young and they are coming together and playing the right away ... I think we are making strides and it will take a little time, but bringing in three guys is a lot easier than trying to incorporate and trying to change the culture of the program with 11 new guys as we did last year. So I think we are going in the right direction."