Horns add ex­pe­ri­ence, depth

Lethbridge Herald - - HERALD SPORTS - Dale Woodard LETH­BRIDGE HERALD

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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