BURNABY — A pair of B.C.’s best graduating seniors, each adept at performing in an uptempo setting, have cast their futures with the Simon Fraser Clan men’s basketball program.
Holy Cross Crusaders’ point guard Keegan Konn and Sam Bailey, a forward with the Vancouver College Fighting Irish, will each begin their collegiate careers this fall on Burnaby Mountain with the NCAA Div. 2 program.
Due to NCAA regulations, SFU can not comment on any potential recruits until signing day on April 12.
The six-foot Konn will join the rebuilding Clan program in the midst of rehabilitating a torn ACL suffered in January, one which robbed him off the opportunity to fully participate with his teammates as the Crusaders made a run to the Final Four at the B.C. Quad-A championships last month.
At the time of the injury, Konn was averaging 27 points per game.
In hindsight, Konn said Monday that the integrity shown him by the Simon Fraser coaching staff in the aftermath of his injury proved to him that he made the right choice of schools.
“It means a lot to me that they have given me this chance,” Konn said of the Clan. “I tore my ACL but (SFU head) coach (Steve) Hanson was so professional and such a gentleman about it. Even though there are no guarantees about the injury, they didn’t treat me like a piece of meat.
“They are going to put the time and effort into me, and I may not have gotten that anywhere else. It give me hope for a fresh start and a new basketball career.”
Konn, known for his flatline dribbling speed, his dead-eye three-point shooting and his passion for running the floor, joins a Clan guard group which includes the likes of Michael Provenzano, Kedar Wright, JJ Pankratz and Othniel Spence.
“To see the work that kid has put in from Grade 8 to now, he deserves all of the success that he is seeing,” said Holy Cross head coach Anthony Pezzente. “He is an under-sized guard who has the opportunity to play post-secondary basketball because of what he put into the game and into his academics (90 per cent). He doesn’t let anything bother him when he wants to achieve something.”
Pezzente was able to get Konn onto the floor in the waning moments of the Crusaders’ B.C. semifinal loss to the eventual champion Walnut Grove Gators. Konn then started his team’s final game of the season, the provincial third-place clash with the Oak Bay Bays.
“We were a good story this season because everyone counted us out,” said Konn. “I just said ‘No, I am going to do what I can to help my teammates stay mentally focused.’ We were a young team and there is a tendency with young teams to just say ‘If we don’t get it this year, we’ll get it next year.’ So I told them to think about me. Do this for me. They played as hard as they could and if we were missing even one of our guys, we wouldn’t have been the same team.”
Bailey also played a unique role with his Vancouver College team, which lost 99-86 in overtime to Konn’s Crusaders in the quarterfinals of the B.C. tournament.
On a team with a deep and dangerous rotation of smaller guards, the 6-foot-7 Bailey was not only expected to handle the lion’s share of duties in the paint, but also to play at the breakneck tempo that best suited the smaller overall height of head coach Lloyd Scrubb’s roster.
The end result for Bailey?
He was able to hone his versatility under fire, becoming adept at playing hard inside, but also flashing face-up skills as a guard-type which will serve him well as he makes the transition to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
“It was definitely the coaching staff and the way they made me feel when I went on a recruiting visit there in January,” said Bailey of why he chose the Clan. “Coach Hanson, and coach (Sean) Shook and coach (Bret) Macdonald and all the players were so welcoming. Who wouldn’t want to go to a place where you feel so welcome?”
The Clan went 2-18 in GNAC play this past season, but both wins came over their final five conference games and the Clan were a completely different team in terms of their competitive nature over the latter stages of the campaign.
“I think the program is going in the right direction,” said Bailey, who on a very balanced Irish team this past season averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game.
“Obviously you want to go to a team that has potential, and they were in so many close games. To me, it was all about looking into the next few years and seeing how the guys and the team are all improving. At the end of the day, I didn’t look at their record.”
Before joining the Clan, Bailey will cap off his high school playing career on Saturday when he suits up for the Quad-A team at the high school all-star game (7:30 p.m., Richmond-R.C. Palmer Secondary) as they play the Triple-A selects.
The Single A vs. Double A game will open the evening’s entertainment at 5 p.m.
Bailey joins a Clan frontcourt next season which will welcome back, among others, swingman Iziah Sherman-Newsome, Tyrell Lewin, Graham Miller and Aleks Vranjes.
Check out earlier Varsity Letters stories on both players:
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