By now most have heard that uOttawa Assistant Coach Justin Serresse is the new Head Coach at Laurier, replacing retired legend Peter Campbell. Serresse was introduced at a news conference this past Thursday and thanked several mentors during his remarks to the press. Serresse is a native of France who was first introduced to CIS basketball during a student exchange in 2006. After a pro career in France between 2004-06, Serresse enrolled at Laurentian University, playing for Shawn Swords, himself a 15+ season veteran of international pro basketball. Serresse completed his playing career after the 2009-10 season in which he averaged 4.4 ppg – that same season his teammate was Peter Campbell’s son Jamie, who will remain on Serresse’s staff after coaching with his father – and Swords helped kickoff Serresse’s coaching career, recommending his former player as a promising Assistant to uOttawa coach James Derouin with the Gee-Gees. Six seasons later, the Gee-Gees have 4 OUA Wilson Cup and 3 CIS Final 8 medals and two Moser Award winners in Johnny Berhanemeskel and Mike L’Africain. Justin’s first cousin Georges Serresse also graduated from Laurentian and plays professionally in France, citing Justin as his key basketball mentor.
Serresse inherits a program that lost in the first round of the OUA playoffs at Brock this past season and is led by one of the top young point guards in the conference in 6’3″ Simon Mikre, who had a wonderful freshman season, shouldering a 30+ minute per game load at the point. While Mikre’s play did tail off toward the end of the season amid the heavy minutes and constant pounding, having a returning sophomore big point guard who will likely grow into his long, lanky body is a tremendous foundation for new coach Serresse. Up front 6’8″ Matt Chesson, who can score in several ways, provides a veteran, fifth-year dump down big in the paint to run the offense through. A pair of fourth-year forwards: 6’5″ Simon Polan-Couillard (Toronto St. Mike’s) and 6’8″ Vlad Matovic provided support, usually off the bench this past season.
Assuming Serresse, who also played in Europe and mentored under Derouin for a Gee-Gees team that annually was among the top 3 point shooting teams in the CIS, will want to use the three-ball as an offensive weapon, there are some pieces available to support that style. 6’0″ 4th year guard Owen Coulthard should inherit a meaningful portion of the shots that will be available now that his older brother Will took now that the 6’2″ guard and son of York Yeomen legend David Coulthard has graduated, leaving Laurier as the third leading scorer in program history. With 6’3″ Garrison Thomas also graduating, there is plenty of PT available on the wing although the emergence of 6’2″ Chuder Teny (3rd) and 6’3″ Sydney Davis (2nd), who worked his way into more post-Christmas minutes as a freshman, allows Serresse some flexibility, especially defensively.
Although Campbell officially retired after the Brock game, he continued to recruit and the Golden Hawks, although not announcing any recruits as of yet, remain involved with several players. Expect Serresse and his support staff to hit the ground running to augment his returning talent. The Hawks and quite literally the entire CIS will miss Peter Campbell on the sidelines however expect Serresse to work the recruiting trail along with Jamie Campbell, who has deep ties into the Kitchener-Waterloo club scene, to add to the foundation that Peter Campbell left behind.