If there was a sixth-man award given out by the Canada West conference, Kenonte Ramsey of the Brandon University Bobcats would be a strong candidate to win it.
The 25-year-old guard from Richmond, Calif., has started only two of the 12 conference games for the Bobcats men’s basketball team this season, but his impact has been huge. Ramsey has logged the third-most minutes of playing time among Bobcat players and is their leading scorer at 14.2 points per game. It’s quite the accomplishment for someone who wasn’t initially brought to the Wheat City as an offensive threat by BU head coach Gil Cheung.
"We recruited him as an on-ball defender and as an athlete, not as a shooter, but he’s leading threes in the country and he’s been our most consistent three-point shooter, so hats off to him," Cheung said. "He put his time in there. Talk about character and a low-maintenance kid and we couldn’t be happier to have him with us."
Ramsey, who’s in his second season with the Bobcats after spending two years at Contra Costa College in California, admits his second season in Brandon is a lot different from his first.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound guard ran into visa issues and joined the Bobcats late last season. When he finally arrived in Brandon, he had missed Bobcats training camp, crucial bonding time with his teammates, and had to catch up in his classes. He also had to learn a new basketball system.
This season, he came back early during the summer and worked on his dribble and shot with Cheung. That has improved him as a player and made Ramsey a major threat deep in the offensive end as he leads the CIS with 40 three-pointers made this season and is making 40.8 per cent of his attempts.
Although Ramsey admits that first season was tough, he knows how important it was for the success he’s having this year.
"Of course it was a slow start (in the first year), but as time went on I eventually caught up," he said. "… Now I’m now comfortable and I know where I can score and where I can’t."
One of the things that Cheung likes best about Ramsey is that he’s low maintenance, understands his role and will do whatever it takes to help the team. Cheung has never heard Ramsey asking to start a game and instead hears questions about what Cheung wants him to do.
Part of why Ramsey never lobbies for a starting spot is because he was taught that starting a game doesn’t matter as much as being on the court when it ends, and he has finished the vast majority of games on the court for the Bobcats this season.
"It’s very important (to finish the game on the court)," Ramsey said. "All of my past coaches will tell you it’s not about who starts, it’s about who finishes. If I’m out there finishing always, then I’m like a starter at the end."
The Bobcats got off to a slow start to the season, but have won their last three games to move into sixth place in the Prairie Division with a 4-8 record, three games behind the Winnipeg Wesmen, who hold down the fourth and final playoff spot in the division.
Ramsey hopes the Bobcats can continue to push for a playoff spot and doesn’t plan on slowing down during the second semester.
"Just continue what I have been doing and also counter how they’re going to guard me," he said. "If they want to deny the shot then I guess I’ll have to take it to the hoop."