Multiple CW teams look to replace graduated minutes


There are several Canada West teams who suffered significant graduation losses and most of these programs are hard on the recruiting trail to replace major minutes at the top of their rotations, maybe none more so than Lethbridge Pronghorns as Coach Mike Hansen, who must find new resources for a collective 90 minutes per game lost with the graduation of 6’6″ Canada West all-star Brandon Brine and a pair of veteran guards Jared Baker and Rob Olsen.  Fortunately, the Horns have patiently awaiting the arrival of 6’4″ Lincoln Anderson, who was the Southern Alberta high school league MVP in 2012-13 after the second of back-to-back 4A provincial titles at Cardston High School (about 80 km. southwest of Lethbridge).  Anderson is an explosive wing who should move right in to the Horns’ regular rotation after spending two years on a Latter Day Saints mission in New Zealand – Anderson subsequently red-shirted this past season.  Anderson will join 6’1″ Dejon Burdeaux (27 mpg/Oakland,CA) back for his fourth season plus 6’8″ Zac Overwater (3rd) and 6’4″ Michael Pierzchala (3rd), the three returnees with the most minutes played last season.  While Lethbridge has announced two other recruits, practically speaking the Horns are unlikely to get much contribution from either in the coming season.  Injuries are a concern for 6’4″ Scott Mazutinec (Stirling, Alta), a combo guard, who is dealing with major knee surgery sustained while playing football; Mazutinec then re-injured that same knee early this past season in his final year of high school basketball and did not finish the hoop season.  The situation with his knee may also be a determining factor as to whether or not Mazutinec considers an LDS mission in the coming year(s).  In 6’4″ Mark Rodehutskors, a wing from Chestermere High School and younger brother of the more highly-touted 6’8″ Jeff Rodehutskors (committed to Calgary), Lethbridge gets a very young (just turning 17 in July) wing/forward who will likely redshirt this coming season.  Certainly expect the Horns to announce more fresh faces to the lineup, but the addition of an older freshman in Alexander should start to ease the blow of losing 90 minutes per game of rotation talent…Regina comes off their most successful campaign since the James Hillis era when the Cougars ordinarily competed for the then-GPAC conference title with a string of successful seasons.  Under Steve Burrows, the Cougars were able to attract some talent originating from the Greater Toronto Area and combined with local and some international talent, won a playoff round over Winnipeg and then came within one game of qualifying for the Canada West Final 4, losing the final two games of a Best-of-3 at Thompson Rivers after a first-game victory.  As most know, the Wolfpack went on to their first-ever CIS Final 8 – in retrospect Regina was “that” close.  But Burrows must replace two very good starters off what ended being about a 7-man rotation in the playoffs.  Graduating 6’3″ Jonathan Tull brought GTA credibility to the Cougars and arguably was the catalyst in bringing his brother 6’4″ younger brother Brandon Tull (entering his 4th year), 6’1″ Aaron McGowan (Toronto/rising 5th year) and 6’5″ Brian Ofori (Montreal).  The elder Tull’s loss leaves a huge void on the wing and up front the loss of big man Will Talman will be evident.  So while Regina returns three other starters, the need to upgrade depth and quality remains.  Cougars started the process by securing the commitments of three local high school stars from Provincial champions Dr. Martin LeBoldus in Regina, starting with 6’4″ forward Carter Millar, who was a top player on Team Saskatchewan in past summers.  A pair of Millar’s teammates also will become Cougars as 6’2″ shooting guard Brayden Kuski, who shot 40% from 3 point range and 6’2″ point guard Ben Hillis, son of former coach James Hillis and younger brother of returning Cougar reserve Samuel Hillis, who earlier transferred back home from Carleton.  As always, I encourage those who want a more detailed account of Canada West news to visit the great site run by Wayne Thomas:   CanadaWestHoops.com.

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