The loss of virtually all of Western’s rotation due to graduation has been well documented. However Mustangs Head Coach Brad Campbell has been busy not only revamping the roster but, more importantly, attracting several higher-end athletes to the program. As well, at least two rotation-ready players return from long injury stints so some experience does remain. Expect the new-look Mustangs to eventually get to a stage where Campbell takes advantage with a more open style of play geared toward his newest stable of more athletic recruits.
Probably Western’s two most important new pieces are a pair of athletic guards, beginning with Windsor native 6’1″ Eric Jenkins, who has transferred home from LeMoyne College, an NCAA D2 program in Syracuse, NY. Jenkins should allow Western to be more aggressive defensively and projects as an immediate starter with the Mustangs. Another likely high-end rotation guard is 6’1″ newcomer Omar Shiddo from Brampton Castlebrook, who is able to create his own off the dribble and will likely be looked upon as a scoring complement to Jenkins. Expect both Jenkins and Shiddo to play major roles in the back court for the Mustangs for years to come.
A pair of quality bigs who were injured last season should anchor the front court for Western, starting with the return of former top recruit 6’5″ Cam Morris, who sat out ’15-’16 after he tore his ACL during the second practice of last season. Morris is a classic stretch 4 with solid perimeter skills who is just entering his third season of eligibility. In 6’9″ Alex Otzyv, Campbell has found his starting five man after the skilled big missed much of last season with an assortment of injuries. Otzyv is a native of Mississauga who played his final two seasons of high school basketball at Kiski Prep.
Campbell is also excited about another front court addition: 6’5″ Haddi Abuzgaya, who spent last season at Brewester Academy on a team that ended up having 10 players get Division 1 scholarships. The Pickering native is a strong, above-the-rim athlete who will likely add physicality inside.
At least two returnees are set to contribute including 6’1″ Alex Coote, a solid 3 point shooter and 6’2″ third year wing Jedson Tavernier.
Another newcomer who should help stretch the “d” on the perimeter is 6’1″ Luka Pekovic, a North Vancouver, B.C. native who spent last season at Modesto (Ca.) Junior College where he averaged over 7 points per game including shooting 41% from beyond the three point line.
Unfortunately, the Mustangs lost arguably their best incoming player in 6’2″ Kayon Meyers, the transfer from Cape Breton, who will miss the entire season after blowing out his patella tendon during the summer. As well, 6’6″ Dylon Gregory who Western had previously announced is no longer with the program.
Other freshman expected to contribute include 5’10” Tyler Thomson, son of former Mustang great Terry Thomson, who Campbell is very excited about, stating “Tyler has come a very long way in a short period of time”.
Campbell has been very encouraged by how far his group has come and notes that the pre-season has been characterized by “lots of teaching, building new habits and ensuring everyone understands basic positioning and systems”. Mustangs restart their pre-season this weekend with games against OCAA powers Humber Hawks (Sunday) and Lambton College (Monday). Campbell then ventures to his childhood home in Ottawa at the House-Laughton tournament in Ottawa later in October. Mustangs also have a trip to Edmonton for the Golden Bear Invitational at Alberta to round out the pre-season.
As well, look for a very positive announcement coming down the pike very soon involving one of Western’s recent graduates that promises to be another testament to the quality of CIS basketball.