BURNABY — When it comes to talking about his shooting abilities on the basketball court, Drew Bryson brings a level of ‘wow’ to the conversation.
On Wednesday’s NCAA signing day, Simon Fraser Clan head coach Steve Hanson couldn’t help but let out a little laugh each time he began to describe the most special quality of the 6-foot-2 shooting guard he had just signed out of Arlington High School, just north of Everett, Wash.
“He can just fill it up,” said Hanson of Bryson, who averaged 22.6 points-per-game this season and was named the Player of the Year in the incredibly competitive Wesco 3A conference. “I think most of the players that we take can shoot the ball, but somebody like Drew is a special shooter.”
Undaunted by the Clan’s 2-18 record in the NCAA Div. 2 Great Northwest Athletic Conference, seeing instead the upward trajectory the team enjoyed over the final stages of the campaign, Bryson felt confident he was joining a team on the rise.
“I know how tough the GNAC is and everybody wants to go to a winning program,” Bryson said over the phone while walking to his official signing ceremony at Arlington High. “But I like the direction and I think there is a lot of talent already there. Things will be turning around and I want to help change things.”
For a Clan team which also announced the official welcoming of B.C.products Sam Bailey (Vancouver) and Keegan Konn (Surrey-Holy Cross) on Wednesday, Bryson’s signing was something of a coup.
There was a little bit of luck involved as well.
“My dad and (Clan assistant coach) Sean Shook go way back,” admitted Bryson. “When my dad (Jeff) was coaching at Darrinton, coach Shook used to coach at Ferndale, and they have known each other over the years. Coach Shook used to even sell jerseys to my dad.”
That connection opened the door to a ground-floor opportunity to see floor time, potentially as early as next season, if Bryson doesn’t red-shirt.
“He is a sneaky-good athlete and off two feet an unreal jumper,” said Hanson who said no decisions have yet been made on who will red-shirt this coming season. “He’s a lefty with deep range. He can shoot from anywhere.
“I think he has the ability to play some point guard as well,” continued Hanson. “Between (rising sophomore) Othniel (Spence) and Drew, they can both play off-guard. Othniel’s speed and athleticism are unreal but Drew is an uncanny shooter.”
Yet Hanson says Bryson doesn’t fit the typical mold of a guy lauded for his shot.
“When guys are pegged as shooters, people tend to think they can’t do other things,” says Hanson, “but Drew competes very hard on the defensive end and he’s athletic enough to guard 1s, 2s and 3s. With added strength he can be an outstanding defender.”
The other part of his game that bears mentioning?
He shows no indecision in the greasy areas of the court, flowing into tough offensive situations near the basket and scoring with a crafty cache of intuitive moves near the rim.
Bryson views the future of the program as bright, even though the weather told him a completely different story on his recruiting visit.
“I went on a gloomy, rainy day but I loved the campus,” said Bryson, who is happy to be close to home and to his girlfriend Gracie Castaneda, a redshirt guard this past season at Western Washington. “I had visited some smaller schools so it was a change to be on such a big campus. And even though it was foggy, I could tell it has a great view of Vancouver.”
Drew Bryson’s glass is decidedly half-full and he’d like to do his part to bring some sunshine to the fortunes of SFU Clan men’s basketball.
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