The Brandon University Bobcats seemed trapped between a rock and a hard place just before the Canada West men’s basketball season started.
BU head coach Gil Cheung wasn’t sure what to do with his guard position. He had hoped fifth-year Emerick Ravier and last year’s Canada West rookie of the year Ilarion Bonhomme would be the starters, with Michael (Reggie) Smith backing them up. However, Ravier’s recovery from reconstructive knee surgery was slower than he hoped, leaving Cheung with a shortage of guards.
However, a new rule passed this year allowed CIS schools to add a third American import to their basketball teams, so Cheung talked to his contacts south of the border. Kenonte Ramsey’s name came up, and both Cheung and Ramsey are happy the third-year guard decided to make the move to the Wheat City.
It gave Cheung more depth at guard and it allowed Ramsey to continue his basketball career.
"If it wasn’t for Coach Gil, I wouldn’t be playing basketball right now," said Ramsey, who was left without a team after a new coach took over at Texas A&M International, where he had planned to transfer to after spending two seasons at Contra Costa College.
"Coach Gil contacted me and said it was an opportunity and I took it and ran with it. … I’m just excited to be able to further my education and be able to play the sport I love so much."
Ramsey joined the team one month into their training camp, but he made an immediate impact.
The third-year guard from Richmond, Calif., has started nine of the Bobcats’ 10 games this season and is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.5 points per game, and fourth in rebounding with 3.7 boards per game. He leads the team with 21 steals and shares the lead in blocked shots with six.
Cheung also loves the attitude of his 6-foot-1 guard and couldn’t imagine the Bobcats without him.
"He does a good job of penetrating and attacking in different stuff we have for him, but he’s a guy that’s really bought in," Cheung said. "We’re still trying to find places to get him the ball and get him shots and he’s done a good job of that. He’s getting better all the time. He’s getting his legs back a little bit, but especially without Emerick, we needed another guard that could go a bit and he’s done a pretty good job."
Ramsey is pretty modest about his accomplishments. All he’s focused on is continuing to get an education — hoping to eventually study criminal justice so he can help at-risk youths — and helping the Bobcats win as much as they can.
Ramsey admitted that the Bobcats’ struggles — they’re 2-8 in the Canada West conference — is not something he’s used to. But Cheung has a lot of faith that Ramsey will have a solid second half to the season.
"He’s been good for us," Cheung said. "I think he’s getting mentally more fatigued than anything, but so is everybody.
"He’s in good shape and takes care of his body well, so we expect him to have a good second half of the year."