With the final four coming up next weekend, the Canada West awards will be handed out to the best players and the guys who gave their teams the best chance to win night in and night out.
In the penultimate Canada West takeaways piece of the year, I make my picks for All Stars, Rookie of the year, Defender of the year, Sixth man of the year, Coach of the year, and of course MVP. Alongside picking every winner I also gave a little nod to my runner ups in each category.
Rookie of the Year – Aldrich Berrios – UBC-O
A tough award to judge when you see the young talent that is often relegated to coming off the bench on really good teams. Rookie of the year often goes to a player that thrived in a system that hasn’t quite developed into a perennial contender yet. For me, there was one rookie that stood out more than the others. Perhaps that is because I admit that I saw him more than most other rookies but my Rookie of the Year comes from the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat. The last place team in the Explorers division didn’t have much going for them this year – they finished with only three wins but they had a bright spot. Their freshmen point guard Aldrich Berrios was recruited out of Notre Dame High School in Vancouver, a small AA school in a AAAA BC system, however he thrived in his role at UBC-O. Berrios was able to play with the ball in his hands which is often very rare among freshmen players and was able to score just over 12 points a game whilst grabbing four rebounds and getting three assists a game. While they aren’t gaudy numbers, the freshmen Berrios was able to get his, against CIS talent after making the step from high school to university. While we might be a while from seeing UBC-O as a legitimate team, fans of CIS basketball can expect to see a steady climb from Berrios in the coming years.
Runner Up: Tyus Allen – TWU (Missed majority of last season, still a rookie in my eyes)
Sixth Man of the Year – Kadeem Willis – Fraser Valley
One of the most important aspects of winning basketball is having a good bench and having production off your bench. For the Cascades – first place in the explorers division and the number two overall seed – when you talk about a good bench they are rarely brought up. It is known that the style of head coach Adam Friesen would be to play his starters all game if he could and rarely plays more than seven players a game. For Willis this year was his graduating year and he could have easily been upset over the fact that he was relegated to the bench after starting last season. However, Willis understood the need for him to come off the bench and provided a spark for a team that is on a Nationals or bust campaign this year. Willis backed up his campaign for sixth man of the year with huge stats off the bench. He was first in rebounds per game among players who started less than five games averaging 6.1 and he was second in the scoring among the same bracket – 12.0 points per game. With Willis graduating, Adam Friesen will need to find a way for the Cascades to see the same spark off the bench in the coming season.
Runner Up: Amarjit Basi – Manitoba
Defensive Player of the Year – Reiner Theil – Victoria
Back-to-back, the only player on this list that could win back to back awards (and in the same category) is the Vikes defensive specialist Reiner Theil. While Theil on paper is not a standout player, seven points per game and six rebounds, he is considered one of the toughest guys defensively in the league. He is often overshadowed by his teammate Chris McLaughlin (more on him below) but the Vikes wouldn’t be the team they are without Theil. Against Joel Friesen and Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson this year, the two best guards in the league, Theil has been able to make life difficult for them. For Friesen he was 8/15 and 5/14 against Theil, he also had five turnovers in those two games. Jackson did have a little more success against Theil. His Dinos split games with Vikes but in the loss he shot 6/14 and turned it over twice. In the second game, although Jackson scored 29 points he required 21 shots to do so and shot 3/9 from deep. Theil wins back to back awards for Defense.
Runner Up: Kevon Parchment – Fraser Valley
Coach of the Year – Barry Rawlyk – Saskatchewan
The man who up to this point in his career has never won a coach of the year awards has led Sask o first place in the tough division which, in my opinion, is the toughest in history. Above all that, it was Rawlyk’s Huskies that walked away with the number one overall seed and the best odds to be in Toronto in March representing the Canada West at nationals. Although it is not often that Rawlyk’s name is brought up in conversations about the best coaches in the country, what he has done with a big school from the prairies is quite special. Over the last six years, only two men have won the coach of the year award, Craig Beaucamp (Victoria) and Kevin Hanson (UBC). This year Rawlyk was 2-0 against Beaucamp, he didn’t however beat Hanson this year. Overall success puts Rawlyk at the forefront of my mind and earns him the honor of being the man at the helm of the best team in the Canada West at the moment. And he won his 11 of his last 12.
Runner Up: Adam Friesen – Fraser Valley
Canada West All-Stars
Guard – Jarred Ogungbemi Jackson (University of Calgary)
Guard – Joel Friesen (University of Alberta)
Forward – Jasper Moedt (University of the Fraser Valley)
Forward – Tommy Nixon (University of British Columbia)
Center – Chris McLaughlin – (University of Victoria)
I think the majority of this all-star team is set in stone. Both Jackson and Nixon are right there with McLaughlin for MVP and Friesen is having a victory lap season in his fifth and final year. However, I do feel like I have some explaining to do with Jasper Moedt. I have one of his teammates as the sixth man of the year and another teammate and coach as runner up’s for awards, so why Jasper? Well I choose Jasper Moedt because of his impact on the court for the Cascades. I felt like at least one player from the explorers division deserved a spot on the all-star team and for me that player was Jasper Moedt (but special recognition to Josh Wolfram from TRU). The second best rebounder in the country and the best in the Canada West (he trailed only Rotimi Osuntola from Windsor by four rebounds) had a phenomenal season for the seventeen win Cascades. Not just overall rebounds however, Jasper is a monster on the offensive glass grabbing a CIS-leading 86 O-boards this season. Now that that is off my chest I get to move onto the big award, the MVP, and of course it is exactly who you think it will be.
MVP – Chris McLaughlin – Victoria
In his fifth year he could do no wrong. McLaughlin transcended basketball and played on another level all season. In my opinion if Craig Beaucamp is somehow given his fourth straight coach of the year award he should turn around and thank McLaughlin first and foremost. While the Vikes are a good basketball team, there is no way that they would be where they are at without McLaughlin. The fight between Nixon and McLaughlin in the second half of the season made for an incredible battle but in the end it goes to McLaughlin for a couple reasons.
- He shot 59.0% for the season on an average of 13 shots a game (both higher than Nixon)
- He scored an average of 19.8 points per game for second in the conference (just less than Nixon)
- He averaged 10 rebounds a game (one of three players with double digit boards)
- He bested Nixon in both head-to-head contests this year
- His team finished second place in the division
- Nixon only became really hot in the second half of the season, McLaughlin dominated all year
While both Nixon and McLaughlin while have a chance to get to the final four this weekend. The MVP is based off regular season play and in that category McLaughlin is the better player. Congratulations MVP – Chris McLaughlin.
Runner Up: Tommy Nixon (UBC)