The historically-maligned five-team Quebec league has taken major steps forward in the past couple of seasons – most know that a “Q” program won a championship side Final 8 game for the first time in 13 seasons after McGill defeated Manitoba in Halifax – however also key is the rapid improvement in overall RSEQ performance in inter-league play.
After bottoming out in 2013-14 at a .300 cumulative winning percentage in games against other conferences, Quebec league teams won 46% of those games this past season including impressive wins by UQAM over uOttawa, Concordia over Queen’s, Nipissing and Toronto and Bishop’s at UNB (finished second in AUS) and vs. Toronto.
This league continues to improve as an influx of younger coaches begins to manifest in deeper and more quality rosters. Below is a first-look breakdown of key roster losses, early recruiting/transfer announcements and my take on the needs each team is likely to address between now and the start of 2017-18.
McGill… Redmen finally broke through to the Final 8 championship round semi-finals led by their 6’2″ All-Canadian Dele Ogundokun entering his fifth and final season. McGill honored 6’1″ Jenning Leung and 6’5″ Michael Peterkin at their Senior’s night although both still have one season of U Sports eligibility remaining. The emergence of 6’1″ RSEQ Freshman of the Year Kendrick Jolin plus the addition of American U. transfer 6’0″ Alex Paquin (two seasons of eligibility remaining) gives the Redmen a pair of creative guards who can put more one-on-one pressure on the defense than McGill has had for some time. Up front, McGill has experience and quality, especially with the maturation of 6’8″ Sebastien Beckett (rising 5th) who has emerged into a very good U Sports big man who can knock shots down and understands how to defend. Don’t forget that 6’7″ Francois Bourque (rising 5th) is a former RSEQ POY and 6’8″ Noah Daoust continues to gain consistency so Redmen front line is formidable. Both 6’1″ Isaiah Cummins (rising 3rd) and 6’4″ Avery Cadogen (rising 4th) continue to mature. McGill also added an athletic wing 6’5″ Jahfari Coulombe (Vanier College), who should help Redmen on the defensive end at a minimum. Redmen could use more depth on the wing – especially another young perimeter shooter and an off-the-bench replacement at the 4 spot among other areas.
Concordia… This deep but still generally young roster loses only 6’5″ post Michael Fosu to graduation. Stingers have three rotation regulars moving into their senior seasons including 6’4″ Ken Beaulieu (5th), 6’6″ T.J. Umar (5th) and 6’0″ Ricardo Monge (4th) so the roster, while gaining experience, remains bottom heavy with rising second and third year guys including 6’5″ Schneiders Suffrard (rising 3rd) who has yet to fulfill his huge promise – most observers agree that he has the potential to be a 1st team all-star. Entering his third season at the helm, Head Coach Rastko Popovic had a stellar class in his first full recruiting cycle last off-season that continues to mature including 6’1″ lefty shooting guard Nicky Noble, 6’0″ Henderson Charles, 6’7″ Olivier Simon and 6’3″ Rowan Power – each have plenty of promise and enter just their second season of eligibility. Concordia should also get 6’0″ Garry Mersier back after he missed the second half with injuries. With this newest class, Stingers bring in the leading scorer in “AAA” Cégep last season: 6’1″ Anthony Sanogo (Cégep Édouard-Montpetit) plus 6’3″ James Murray (Champlain-Lennoxville) to help with their perimeter shooting which again was an area of inconsistency this past season. Coach Popovic also is likely to address size along the front line after losing post-man Fosu to graduation.
UQAM… With 6’2″ lefty Greishe Clerjuste among the top returnees in the RSEQ, Head Coach Nate Philippe has a sound, proven scorer to build around. Citadins lose plenty of size and rim protection up front with graduation of 7’0″ Yassin Debache and 6’9″ Rudy Caufriez so addressing the 4 and 5 spots is key. 6’0″ Charles Miller, who missed much of the second half after an bad knee injury should be back strong and healthy with his ability to stretch the perimeter. Last season’s most effective freshman on UQAM was likely 6’0″ Misi Boye, who should mature into a strong U Sports point guard for Miller and Clerjuste to play off of. 6’5″ Ibrahima Sylla made large strides in his overall offensive package after the holidays and has the potential to be a lock-down defender. 6’4″ Christian Kadima, 6’7″ Christopher Doumpa – who had transfered from Concordia and 6’9″ Stefan Mitrovic all played supporting roles in their first season with the program while Philippe expects a pair of redshirts originally from Montmorency who practiced with the Citadins all of this past season: 6’5″ Christopher Adu and 6’0″ Alexandre Compres to work into the rotation. More size, depth at point guard and perimeter shooting are three areas of need with UQAM.
Laval… Maybe the most athletic roster in the conference loses just 5’11” point guard Karl Demers-Belanger and 6’2″ Laurier Beaulac-Dufresne to graduation. Unfortunately, 6’5″ Alexandre Leclerc, a perennial favorite for RSEQ POY now entering his 4th season, struggled with an ankle injury in the second half but 6’5″ Joel Muamba, filled with potential, saw more time and is expected to mature into a potential RSEQ all-star going forward. Most U Sports true “5” men mature later and Head Coach Jacques Paiement Jr. is hoping that 6’10” Marc-Andre Fortin blossoms in what will be his third season. Rouge et Or have two athletic albeit somewhat-undersized paint area players in 6’5″ Franston Demosthene (rising 3rd) and 6’5″ Charles-Andre Edorh (rising 4th) and are likely to get 6’6″ Antoine Beaumier back for his fifth and final season. 6’1″ Yoann Folquet (rising 3rd) adds depth at the point while 6’3″ Alain Bernard and 6’2″ Nicolas Begin (rising 4th) add to an already deep roster that appears to be well set for next season.
Bishop’s… Gaiters must replace their leader and “go to” scorer, 6’0″ Jona Bermillo but have 6’2″ Baltimore native Kevin Davis (injured and missed entire 2016-17 season) waiting in the wings. 6’5″ Abdul Kamane continues to progress as a slashing forward who can get himself to the foul line and is on track to become a conference all-star. Last season’s top rookie, 6’1″ Joany Castor-Thadal, entering his second season, is one of the top perimeter shooters in the league while 5’9″ Alexandre Bosse also helps at the guard spot. Up front, 6’5″ David Belanger has one season of eligibility remaining while the status 7’0″ Jonah Fogg remains uncertain as the promising big man battles concussion symptoms. Gaiters first announced recruit: 6’8″ Aidan Burns (Ottawa Canada Topflight Academy via Chateauguay, Quebec) should help up front. Three rising 3rd year wing forwards are also in the mix: 6’8″ Yassin Naji, 6’6″ Owen Martel and 6’5″ Duncan Lambert. Gaiters could use another perimeter shooter or two, an experienced big man and another point guard to add depth.