Knockin\’ on the Neighbour\’s Door
Scott Morrison is starting to make a name for himself across Canada but especially in Winnipeg. After finishing 5th at nationals this past year coach Morrison knows that he is only a few steps from winning the national championship for Lakehead University.
This offseason has been a productive one for the Thunder Wolves Head Coach; as he has managed to land 6 recruits for Lakehead’s upcoming season.
That may seem like a normal number of recruits but the interesting part lies in where these players come from. When taking a closer look at where these players resided, one will notice a similar trend. Three recruits are from Winnipeg. Most freshman who are from Winnipeg and have potential to play CIS ball, usually end up playing for either the University of Winnipeg or the University of Manitoba. It’s true that there’s no place like home, however, Coach Morrison would like to provide a second environment that can be as comfortable as home.
Winnipeg basketball has a lot to offer for those that are not familiar with the system and for Lakehead that is a plus.
“With Winnipeg, the main thing is location, we can sell to the kids that they can get out on their own and get the University experience, but at the same time they are still only a quick flight or a reasonable drive to get home. I think that the fact that we are a stronger program now gets our foot in the door. I don’t think that the guys come here because we are better but those things combined with the fact that we have a chance to win, makes it pretty attractive for any high school kid or any kid from Winnipeg.”
Now Coach Morrison knows that all of these recruits didn’t come easy and the recruiting process is a lengthy one.
“Certain characteristics have to be there to be a good recruiter and first off you have to keep working, you can’t let the guys forget about you especially being out of town, you have to be able to call, email, send letters, and when you can try and go see the kid. I think the next thing is that you got to be willing to find aspects about our school that appeals to those guys, and those aspects might be his strengths or weaknesses depending on the kid. Getting to know the guys, and building a relationship and figuring out exactly what they are looking for and then trying to put together a package or a presentation that appeals to them”
This hard work has not gone unnoticed as his new Thunder Wolves feel that when they were recruited by Coach Morrison they knew that they were wanted at Lakehead.
“He doesn’t quit. He is an honest and straight forward guy who gives it to you how it is.” said JR Alexander who was one of the first recruits signed by Coach Morrison.
Another one of his Winnipeg recruits Michael Thorne-Finch also felt the same way. “He was very upfront, and always in contact, and probably recruited me the hardest out of the other schools, you could tell that he really wanted me.”
Even with hard work Coach Morrison still felt that he got a little “lucky” with the recruits.
“I think we got a little bit lucky because I kind of caught those guys (U of M and U of W) at a rebuilding stage, especially U of W by the time coach Raimbault got hired we had already spent time recruiting these guys so we had a head start, the next high school kid from Winnipeg that we try to get coach Raimbault will already sunk his teeth into him.”
One thing that Coach Morrison has noticed is that recruiting is getting more and more competitive each year.
“It is definitely getting rougher, back when I started even though I was young I thought I could probably out work maybe half the coaches, nowadays everyone is busting their butt and there are a lot of new coaches that are hungry and they see what it takes to build a program in terms of the work ethic, it’s now pretty competitive and that’s another reason why we (Lakehead) try to jump on these Winnipeg kids.”
“Once a southern Ontario CIS potential kid gets recognized there is going to be eight to ten CIS schools all over him and they are going to have a better chance to see him than we are so it is a disadvantage for us but it is probably good in general for the level ball in the CIS,” reflected Coach Morrison.
Winnipeg and Thunder-Bay are great locations for finding solid CIS players but Coach Morrison knows that he has do what he can every now and then and grab a Greg Carter, Ryan Thompson or a Yoosrie Salhia from southern Ontario.
Lakehead and Coach Morrison recruited 6 players for next season. Joey Nitychoruk – St. Paul’s High School – 6’6, JR Alexander – Grant Park High School – 6’2 , Michael Thorne-Finch – Kelvin High School – 6’7, Brandon Myketa – Churchill High School (ON) – 6’3, Alex Robichaud –Superior High School (ON) – 6’1.
The last recruit has not been announced yet but Adam Johnson who played at Cecil College in Maryland will be transferring to Lakehead with four years of eligibility left.
After a successful recruiting session in Winnipeg this past season Lakehead will be keeping its eye on the local Winnipeg high schools and the talented kids that they produce.
A solid team last year, Lakehead will have a majority of the team coming back for another run at the championship. With this being said a lot of the freshmen will be expected to come in and learn the system, develop and be ready to take on bigger roles down the road.
Photo Credits: Lakehead Blogspot