While some are calling this season’s version of the Carleton Ravens the deepest and best team ever in Coach Dave Smart‘s tenure and a strong bet to win their 13th National championship, a peek ahead to next season shows that the Ravens have significant pieces of their rotation to replace including Moser Award candidate 6’4″ Connor Wood, 6’2″ Kaza Kajami-Keane (thanks for the commenter who corrected my prior spelling), 6’7″ Ryan Ejim and 6’4″ Joe Rocca, all mainstays in the top end of Carleton’s rotation.
While there are younger players chomping at the bit to replace the graduates-to-be, Coach Smart is aware that the hopper needs to remain full and his latest recruiting class would again be at or near the top of any ranking were it that we were that sophisticated here in Canada. (Comparatively, it is common knowledge that my USC Trojans finished #4 in the Class of 2017 football recruiting rankings and are #2 for Class of 2018). The current Ravens class – almost complete – includes size (with skill), a perimeter shooter and a former D1-esque prospect trying to resurrect his playing career.
Most notable in the class is 6’9″ Biniam Ghebrekidan, from Gatineau Outaouais CEGEP where he played for current Ravens assistant and CIS legend Osvaldo Jeanty. Ghebrekidan is a former Jr. National team member who also represented Canada at the NIKE Global Challenge in the summer of 2014. A veteran of the Ottawa Guardsmen program, Ghebrekidan projects as a high-skill level stretch 4 who adds size and athleticism and could help form the makings of a formidable front-line with current Ravens 6’9″ Eddie Ekiyor. Bringing in even more size, Smart dipped back into Ashbury College with the commitment of 6’10” Owen Boisvert, another member of local club ball, who projects as a U-Sport five man. Boisvert is also a member of the Ottawa Elite program.
With shooters being such a premium, Smart brings in one of the finest in the nation in 6’4″ Will Spaulding from New Brunswick’s Rothesay Netherwood school. Originally from Nova Scotia and a member of those great Nova Scotia teams that captured Canada Games gold, Spaulding continues a tradition of tall, knock-down shooting wings.
Ravens are also excited about the return of 6’3″ lefty Anthony Pate, who had left the program but has now returned, looking to rekindle the magic that had him rated as one of the top players in Ontario during his final high school years in Oakville but was besieged by a series of serious knee injuries. Carleton expects Pate to be healthy again and hopes to rediscover his promise.
Carleton does have one more position to potentially fill and is awaiting word on one final recruit; that announcement could come anytime in the coming weeks.
Ravens and cross-town rival Ottawa Gee-Gees prepare for their weekend games against U of T Varsity Blues and Ryerson Rams before embarking on the post-season. It is virtually certain that the Wilson Cup Final 4 will be played here in Ottawa during the weekend of March 3rd and 4th.