Ilarion Bonhomme had a fantastic season with the Brandon University Bobcats last year.
The rookie point guard averaged 12.2 points per game, was second in the Canada West conference with 119 assists and 10th in the conference in minutes played per game, averaging 32.2. All that led to Bonhomme being named the Canada West and Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s basketball rookie of the year. However, the 21-year-old was far from satisfied with the season.
The Washington, D.C., native was disappointed the Bobcats posted a 7-13 record and missed the playoffs, so he stayed in Brandon this summer to work with head coach Gil Cheung to try to find a way to help his team reach the post-season as a minimum goal for this year.
"I tweaked my jump shot a little bit," Bonhomme said. "We did some defence stuff and just things in the game. He was showing me tape in the summer where we break it down in the summer to show what I could do better just to adjust little stuff."
"I just want to be more efficient and consistent to help us win more games," he continued. "That’s about it. I’m not trying to, since I won rookie, be MVP or nothing like that."
Bonhomme’s dedication to the team impresses Cheung. Brandon’s bench boss likes the leadership and dedication Bonhomme showed this summer, especially on 30 C days when the 5-foot-11, 175-pound point guard would hit the gym instead of hanging out with friends.
That, combined with eight returning players, has given Cheung a lot of hope that Bonhomme will have another great season with the Bobcats.
"He has that familiarity with his teammates and he knows what to expect out of the conference as well," Cheung said. "It always helps when your best player is also your hardest worker. He trained hard all summer and we expect him to continue to grow off the court and continue to do what he did last year."
While there wasn’t a lot of turnover on the Bobcats roster, Bonhomme admits he will miss his backup point guard Chris Oppong. Oppong elected not to return to Brandon this season due to personal reasons.
While Oppong averaged only 6.8 minutes, Bonhomme loved the way he challenged him in practice.
"He’s going to push you every practice," Bonhomme said. "If you’re not on your toes, he’s going to take your spot. Losing him was big. It might not seem like it because he only played six minutes a game, but he pushed me (even harder) every practice."
Michael (Reggie) Smith and Emerick Ravier, when he’s healthy, are expected to back up Bonhomme at point guard this year.
While he will miss Oppong, Bonhomme knows how hard to push himself this season and hopes his work ethic will rub off on his teammates. If that happens, Bonhomme has high hopes for the Bobcats.
"We just, as a team, have to realize collectively that we can be good, like put in a lot of extra work," he said. "Every team in the country practises every day, so it depends what we do outside of practice. Watching game tape, going to the gym, little stuff like that, that coach has harped on."
Name Position Year Height Weight Hometown
Ali-Mounir Benabdelhak F 2 6-6 190 Montreal, Que.
Ilarion Bonhomme G 2 5-11 175 Washington, D.C.
James Elias F 4 6-11 235 Morden
Isaiah James F 4 6-7 215 San Jose, Calif.
Alex Klocek G 2 6-4 185 Coquitlam, B.C.
Pacome Matulu F 3 6-4 215 Montreal, Que.
Jude Molin G 1 6-4 204 Montreal, Que.
Emerick Ravier G 5 6-3 195 Ottawa, Ont.
Jordan Reaves F 4 6-5 215 Winnipeg
r-O’Neil Reece G 1 6-1 195 Scarborough, Ont.
Turell Scott G 1 6-5 180 Coquitlam, B.C.
Michael (Reggie) Smith G 3 6-0 170 Brampton, Ont.
Peterson Suffrard F 1 6-7 268 Montreal, Que.
Head Coach: Gil Cheung (third year).
Assistant Coaches: Jeremy Wielenga, Donovan Gayle.