Kevon Parchment and Shayna Cameron come from vastly different backgrounds, but they share at least one thing in common – a life-altering passion for the game of basketball.
That passion has carried them to where they are today – nearing the end of very distinguished university basketball careers as members of the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades.
Both fifth-year players will be honoured as part of Senior Night festivities on Saturday at the Envision Athletic Centre, following their respective teams’ home games against the Thompson Rivers WolfPack. The Cascades take on the WolfPack on Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.) at the UFV Abbotsford campus.
As they approach this major milestone, both players took time to take stock of the journey, and look ahead to where life might lead them next.
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Kevon Parchment does things on the basketball court that no player with a slender 6’3” frame should be able to accomplish. He’s arguably the most versatile player in Canada West, ranking among the conference leaders on a per-game basis in points (17.2, ninth), rebounds (9.5, fifth), assists (5.2, second), blocks (1.4, seventh) and steals (1.7, 12th).
The rebounding and blocked-shots numbers, in particular, are borderline preposterous for a player his size, even taking into account his fast-twitch athleticism.
Quizzed as to how he manages to excel in all phases of the game, Parchment points to his formative years in Scarborough, Ont. Born in Jamaica, he moved to the Toronto suburb with his family at age five. They settled in subsidized housing on Mornelle Court.
As a youngster, Parchment would visit the area’s outdoor basketball court and try to get into games with the older guys. On occasion, if they were a player short or if somebody got injured, they’d wave him in. Then, it was a matter of staying in the game – eating elbows from much bigger players, diving on the asphalt for loose balls. Whatever it took.
Even now, Parchment is never out-hustled, and those seeds were planted in those Scarborough streetball games.
“It wasn’t the best neighbourhood,” Parchment recalled. “It was metro housing. But every day, guys would go outside and play at the court. . . . I would do anything for them to pick me and want me to play.
“I’ve never been the tallest player, but them roughing me up a little bit, getting me tougher so when I see bigger guys, now it’s just second nature. I don’t back down, because I’ve always been in that underdog atmosphere.”
Cascades head coach Adam Friesen came across Parchment almost by accident in 2012, back when the shooting guard was plying his trade with the Lakeland College Rustlers of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. Friesen, who would begin his first season as UFV’s head coach that fall, was watching YouTube highlights of a Rustlers player who he was recruiting, and fortuitously clicked on Parchment’s highlight tape in the related videos sidebar.
“I watched his tape, and I said, ‘We need him!’” Friesen recounted with a chuckle. “The style of play we were looking to put in, he seemed to be a perfect fit. You could tell that he was versatile, could get up and down the floor, and was a tremendous defender.”
Indeed, Parchment has been everything Friesen envisioned and more. He’s averaged no fewer than 14.7 points per game in any of his four seasons at UFV, and earned Canada West third team all-star honours in 2014-15. It’s no coincidence that the Cascades have been to the Canada West Final Four in each of his previous three seasons, and he’s aiming to make it four – and to take a step beyond, to the CIS national championship.
“He carried the torch after Kyle Grewal and Sam Freeman and Jasper Moedt,” Friesen said, reeling off a list of Cascades greats of recent vintage. “He came in as a sixth man and has worked his way into being the best player on the team.”
Parchment hopes to parlay his sterling Canada West career into a pro contract in Europe.
“I’m kind of excited to see what the next chapter is in my life, but it’s going to be kind of bittersweet,” he said. “The system, the playing style, and the guys on the team, the school – overall, it’s been a great decision for me to come here, and I don’t regret it at all.”
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As her university basketball career draws to a close, Shayna Cameron finds herself reflecting on how the game has changed her as a person.
The Chilliwack product is a self-described late bloomer – she didn’t pick up a basketball until Grade 9, and didn’t really get serious about the game until Grade 10.
“I was a really shy and introverted kid . . . kind of scared to meet other people,” she recalled. “I was always so afraid of just going for it.
“One day I was in the gym and picked up a basketball and shot a jump shot, and it was like, ‘Oh, that was fun.’
“Basketball, I don’t know – something about it brought out who I truly am. And that’s a very confident kid who would like to define herself and not let anyone define her. And I think that’s what I’ve done through basketball.”
Cameron is the latest in a long line of outstanding players from Chilliwack Secondary to star for the Cascades, but she took a circuitous route to UFV. In her Grade 12 year, she didn’t have many scholarship offers. Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer admired her sweet shooting strike and had some conversations with her, but Cameron didn’t think she was ready for Canada West/CIS basketball and elected to develop her game at the collegiate level with the Quest Kermodes.
Cameron put in a ton of sweat equity during her four seasons with the Squamish-based program. She stayed in town each summer, participating in three-a-day workouts with head coach Dany Charlery and assistant coach Kim Land – individual basketball drills in the gym, lifting weights, field sprints – while also working a job.
That investment yielded copious amounts of success, highlighted by a pair of PacWest championships (2014 and 2015) and a bushel of individual honours for Cameron, including the PacWest MVP award and the conference’s female athlete of the year award across all sports in 2014-15.
Tuchscherer took note, and in fact tried to recruit Cameron after her second and third years at Quest. But she was determined to finish her liberal arts and science degree.
Upon graduation in 2015, and possessing one more year of eligibility, Cameron fulfilled a dream by moving up to the Canada West ranks with the Cascades. It hasn’t necessarily been an easy transition – the athleticism and basketball IQ are much higher in Canada West, she says. But she’s been an impact player from the start – she poured in 27 points in UFV’s regular season opener vs. UBC Okanagan, and her 13.0 points per game (highlighted by 38.4 per cent shooting from beyond the arc) are second-most on the team.
“She’s lived up to expectations, for sure,” Tuchscherer said. “I think it’s been a whirlwind for her, trying to figure it out on the fly. I’m sure we’d both love to have another year, but I think she’s made the most of it. She’s been an incredible contributor to our program.”
Cameron, like Parchment, harbours dreams of playing professionally overseas, and she’d like to get into coaching eventually. She plans to pursue a Master’s degree in coaching at some point.
“It’s been great,” she said, reflecting on her time with the Cascades. “I feel like I’ve been able to help the rookies quite a bit, and I’ve connected with the older girls like Katie (Brink) and Kayli (Sartori) and all of them. It’s like a family – we’re a little tight unit. They just took me in, and I’m so thankful for that.”