GLIMPSE OF THE FU­TURE

U of A Golden Bears host high school bas­ket­ball show­case

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS - Univer­sity OF AL­BERTA

The Univer­sity of Al­berta Golden Bears bas­ket­ball team may be on their exam hia­tus, but there will still be high-end games tak­ing place at the Sav­ille Com­mu­nity Sports Cen­tre on Satur­day.

The Golden Bears are host­ing their third an­nual High School Show­case, fea­tur­ing four top teams in the city.

The Strath­cona Lords will face the St. Fran­cis Xavier Rams (5 p.m.) in the open­ing game, fol­lowed by the Harry Ain­lay Ti­tans against the Arch­bishop O’leary Spar­tans (7 p.m.) in the sec­ond con­test.

“It’s just a sin­gle night af­fair. We do it to kick off the high school bas­ket­ball sea­son,” said Golden Bears head coach Barn­aby Crad­dock. “I think it’s pretty cool to have those guys come into our cam­pus and play. We host it just like one of our Golden Bears games, so it’s got the full bleach­ers out, and it’s a cool place for those high school kids to play.”

Hav­ing four high school teams play on the Golden Bears’ home court al­lows Brad­dock and his coach­ing staff to get an up-close look at some of the top bas­ket­ball tal­ent in the city.

It also give play­ers a sense of what it might be like to play for the Golden Bears once they grad­u­ate high school. The bas­ket­ball pro­gram at the U of A has al­ways re­cruited heav­ily within the city, and a num­ber of play­ers on this year’s roster are home­grown.

“We’d love to have as many Ed­mon­ton guys on the team as pos­si­ble and Al­berta guys af­ter that,” Crad­dock said. “The man­date is that we want to be com­pet­i­tive for a na­tional cham­pi­onship. If we have to reach fur­ther than the prov­ince of Al­berta in a given year and we do that with our re­cruit­ing, we will. But it’s ob­vi­ously fan­tas­tic to see some of these lo­cal kids up front, first and fore­most. That’s what we would prefer to have in our pro­gram.”

The two games serve as the reg­u­lar-sea­son opener for the Metro Ed­mon­ton High School Ath­let­ics Se­nior Boys Bas­ket­ball sea­son. The rest of the league be­gins play Mon­day. The high school bas­ket­ball league runs from De­cem­ber through March.

“It’s a good time, the crowds have been pretty good, around 1,000 peo­ple per game the last cou­ple of years we’ve held this,” Crad­dock said. “We get a pretty nice turnout. One year, it was around -30 C. It was one of the cold­est days of the year and we still had about 1,000 peo­ple there. It’s been pretty well at­tended for a high school bas­ket­ball event.”

The show­case event also al­lows Crad­dock to main­tain a good re­la­tion­ship with the high school pro­grams through­out the city. In or­der to stay com­pet­i­tive in an ever-grow­ing Canada West Con­fer­ence, the Univer­sity of Al­berta has to com­pete against more schools for top high school prospects.

“We’ve got some great high school coaches that have been do­ing a great job through Ed­mon­ton for years now,” Crad­dock said. “One of our alumni, Dave Youngs, has been do­ing a great job at Ross Shep­pard. The coach at Harry Ain­lay, Ge­orge Hoyt, does an awe­some job.

“There are other young, up-and-com­ing coaches that are do­ing a great job. I think the Ed­mon­ton bas­ket­ball com­mu­nity is thriv­ing, there are lots of pas­sion­ate peo­ple on both the boys’ and the girls’ side. We’re talk­ing about ex­pand­ing this to girls’ teams in the fu­ture as well.”

DAVID BLOOM/POST­MEDIA

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