Horns add experience, depth
The already-deep University of the Lethbridge Pronghorns men’s basketball team just got deeper.
The Horns announced seven new recruits Thursday afternoon at the University of Lethbridge.
Six of those seven recruits were on hand to put pen to paper at the announcement as the Horns not only shopped locally, but brought in some experience from south of the border and tapped into some family bloodlines as Tanner McLachlan, Saren Westrop, Boomer Heggie, Nick Myndio, Kyle Peterson, Jeff Rodehutskors and Canyon Lewis committed to the program.
After a 2016-17 Canada West season in which the Pronghorns not only went 13-7 in the regular season to earn their first playoff home game since 2001, but also went on a tidy post-season run to the final-four before bowing out to the Alberta Golden Bears, Horns head coach Mike Hansen is confident he’s added the pieces to help his team take the next step.
“We just wanted to solidify our bench, gain some depth, add some experience and also build for the future and I think we’ve done that with this recruiting class,” said Hansen. “We’ve been able to add some high-level guys and I think we have two guys coming in that will start for us immediately in Westrop and Peterson, with a ton of past experience. So they’re huge for us. I felt like we were really close this year. We were one piece away and now we have two pieces and I feel like we’re right there and we can make a run at a Canada West championship.”
Joining the Pronghorns in time for the 2017-18 Canada West season are LCI products McLachlan and Westrop — who joins the Pronghorns after two years in the U.S. playing both NCAA Division 1 and Junior College.
Heggie has also committed, but won’t suit up for the Pronghorns until the 2019-20 season as he embarks on his two-year LDS mission this July.
Chinook’s Myndio also joins the Horns, but is expected to red shirt this season, as is Lewis, who joins the team from Green Valley High School in Henderson, Nevada.
Peterson returns following a two-year LDS mission. He practised with the Pronghorns during the 2014-15 season after transferring from the University of Victoria and has three years of eligibility remaining.
Rodehutskors transfers from the University of Calgary, but will have to sit out next season in accordance to USPORTS transfer regulations.
His younger brother, Mark, redshirted last season with the Pronghorns and their father, Steve, suited up for the Pronghorns in the mid-80’s before he transferred to Calgary to play football.
As a freshman last season with the Dinos, Rodehutskors averaged 2.3 points per game in 15 games.
Westrop signed with Iona College out of high school, saw action in 13 games with the Gaels and was named to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Academic Honor Roll.
Last season, he played Junior College at Harcum College in Pennsylvania. In helping the Bears to a 22-9 record, Westrop averaged 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
At LCI, Westrop was the Southern Alberta High School Basketball League MVP in the 2014-15 season, helping the Rams to a 14-0 regular season and leading the team in scoring with 23.1 points per game.
“It’s tremendous.” said Hansen of the added experience to his roster. “To be able to bring back our core four starters and six of our top seven guys and then to be able to add to it, Saren is coming with with two years of experience in the States and high level of competition and Kyle is two-year starter at Victoria when they went to nationals before heading out on his mission. So to be able to add two transfers of that quality is tremendous.
“To get Jeff Rodehutskors, who was one of the top recruits in Western Canada last year, who has decided to transfer over from Calgary and has gained some valuable experience and in a year from now is going to be huge. We have his younger brother, Mark, coming in off a red shirt year who is going to add that depth and balance.” A two-time SAHSBL All-Star, Heggie averaged 16.7 points per game for the Raymond Comets this past season and was named a Second Team All-Star. In grade 11, he was named to the first Team and averaged 20.9 points and was also a key player to the Comets in Grade 10, scoring 17.8 points per game. Myndio joins the Pronghorns from Chinook High School, where he led the Coyotes in scoring the past two seasons, averaging 24.4 points last season and 19.1 points in Grade 11. “To add quality, local kids like Tanner, Nick and Boomer, (they) all have played at a high level and are going to be able to come in and make an immediate impact,” said Hansen. McLachlan comes to the team after a successful stint at LCI. Last season the 6-foot-6 forward was a SAHSBL First Team AllStar and led the Rams in scoring with 22 points per game. In Grade 11, he averaged 13 points per game and the multisport athlete was also a standout wide receiver with the Rams’ football team.
“I’ve grown up supporting them and I’ve watched all their games since I was young, so I’m really excited to join this team and show them what I can do,” said McLachlan. “I know the adjustments I’ll have to make are pretty big just because I’ll be going up against bigger players. But I think getting in the gym and giving it all I’ve got every practice.”
After honing his game south of the border, Westrop brings that experience back home.
“I definitely learned a lot,” he said. “The biggest thing is probably toughness. It really made me a tougher player and taught me a lot of things on the court that I’ll be able to hopefully use to win games. I think that’s one thing I really worked on in my two years there because you have to be tough or you won’t play.”
Now, the LCI alumnus takes those lessons learned back to home soil with expectations to contribute immediately.
“That’s very exciting,” said Westrop. “It’ll be nice to play at home and help my home team win.”
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