The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball program has augmented its roster with a deep, talented recruiting class, featuring a strong crop of locals along with a pair of athletes from further afield.
The local talent in head coach Adam Friesen’s Class of 2015 includes a trio of players from Abbotsford: forward Devin Brar out of Abby Senior Secondary, and former Yale Secondary backcourt mates Sasha Otanga and Jasdeep Gill. Madison Cooley, a Delta product who played his high school basketball at Port Coquitlam’s Terry Fox Secondary, rounds out the Fraser Valley contingent.
They’re joined by Mark Johnson, a versatile guard out of College of the Desert in Palm Springs, Calif., and Brandon Burke, a small forward who starred at Ottawa’s Algonquin College last season.
“I’m really happy with the student-athletes who are joining our team,” said Friesen, who has guided the Cascades to three straight trips to the Canada West Final Four, including a conference bronze medal last season. “They’ve all been enjoyable to work with and have shown a strong work ethic this summer. Depth at every position will be a strength of ours this season.”
Johnson, a 6’5” guard out of Palm Springs High School, spent the past two years with the College of the Desert Roadrunners of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA). He earned second team all-conference honours last season after averaging a double-double (12.2 points, 10.3 rebounds) and pacing the Roadrunners in assists (3.6 per game).
Burke, a 6’4” swingman, posted 11.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and a team-high 2.2 assists per game last season for the Algonquin Thunder of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA). The Toronto product spent the 2012-13 campaign with the Bossier Parish Cavaliers, a junior college program in Louisiana, averaging 4.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per contest.
Brar, a multi-talented 6’5” forward who graduated from Abby Senior in 2013, is making a homecoming after beginning his CIS basketball career with the Algoma Thunderbirds of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference. As a freshman with the Thunderbirds in 2013-14, he averaged 1.3 points and 1.1 rebounds per game.
Cooley, a towering 6’9” centre, is coming off an impressive freshman season with the Kwantlen Eagles of the PacWest conference. He averaged 14.2 points and a league-leading 9.7 rebounds per game, and was subsequently named to the conference all-rookie team.
Otanga, after graduating from Yale Secondary in 2014, spent last season with Abbotsford’s Columbia Bible College Bearcats of the PacWest. The athletic 6’2” shooting guard averaged 8.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.
Gill, a fellow member of Yale’s grad class of 2014, is a 5’9” point guard best known for his outside shooting prowess. He helped the Yale Lions to a bronze medal at the 2013 Fraser Valley championships, and went on to average 10.3 points and 3.5 assists per game at the B.C. AAA high school provincials as Yale finished seventh.
The UFV men’s basketball team is coming off a sparkling 2014-15 campaign. They went 17-3 during the regular season, spending six weeks in the CIS Top 10 rankings along the way, and earned the Canada West bronze medal with a victory over the UBC Thunderbirds.
The Cascades tip off the 2015-16 regular season on Nov. 6, when they face the UBC Okanagan Heat at home.