COQUITLAM — On the eve of a highly-anticipated senior season, it’s no stretch to say that the best of Grace Killins is yet to come.
For a Centennial Centaurs team whose profile and mercury both seem to be on the rise with the countdown to the 2018-19 B.C. high school season a month away, that is great news.
It’s perhaps even greater news to the future fortunes of the Simon Fraser Clan, after Killins made her verbal commitment to join an NCAA Div. 2 program whose blueprint seems a perfect mesh for her attacking, long-range shooting game.
“The way (SFU head coach) Bruce (Langford) plays fits the way I enjoy to play,” said the 5-foot-9 guard. “Plus, I get to stay close to home and it’s a great academic school. This takes off the pressure and gives me a chance to really enjoy and play well over my Grade 12 year.”
Ask her about why that is so important, and she doesn’t hesitate for a second.
“My main goal has been to help this team make it to provincials in one of my four years of high school,” she begins. “I haven’t gotten there yet, but I think this season is our best chance.”
Killins, in fact, will get an early chance to play on the very Langley Events Centre court the B.C. championships will be contested upon in March when she leads the Centaurs into the 2018 Tsumura Basketball Invitational, where her team begins a three-day run Dec. 13 against North Vancouver’s St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints.
And while she has worked diligently to add layers to her overall game, Killins is most routinely lauded for her abilities as a shooter.
“For my money, the best shooter in the province,” says Argyle Pipers head coach Anthony Beyrouti, who coached Killins all summer on the U.S. club circuit with VK Basketball.
“She can hit it from deep, deep NBA range,” continued Beyrouti who likened Killins’ stoke to that of former Clan gunner Elisa Homer, and current long-range ace Jessica Jones. “She is effortless, a very smooth player.”
Adds her high school coach, Centennial bench boss Lucian Sauciuc: “She has improved an aspect of her game every year, and I have coached her since Grade 9. Now she has this great floater inside the lane. I think she will have a breakout season for us this year.”
Killins has collected a number of different experiences in the sport en route to arriving at her senior season, and she says that her summer with VK Basketball — with its challenges of travel, blue-chip competition and fatigue — really helped to hone her focus.
“Having to deal with the adversity of say, three games a day, three days in a row, and having to hydrate, sleep and rest made me learn how to best manage my time and focus,” she explains of a schedule which took her team to Phoenix, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco and Anaheim, among other stops.
Yet perhaps her greatest development has come at home, with her greatest mentor right there to offer constructive criticism.
“I shoot basically every day in the back yard,” says Killins of her truest home court. “It gives me the range to shoot as far as I want.”
Except for left baseline corner of the court, which due to the geography of a fence, is about 30 per cent shy of regulation distance.
Nonetheless, it was on that court, working with her dad Bryan, that Killins was able to hone both every aspect of her three-point shot.
“He basically taught me the game mentally, and he basically created my shot,” says Grace of her dad Bryan Killins, himself a former guard and a 1988 Centennial grad who played under the legendary coach Rich Chambers, and in his Grade 11 year was part of a Centaurs team which advanced all the way to the B.C. AAA Final Four before being upset by Abbotsford’s MEI Eagles, a team which included star Grade 10 player and current Abbotsford Panthers’ senior girls head coach Prentice Lenz.
“He’s been able to help me through all of my adversities and he’s been my basketball role model,” she adds. “Playing at the same school that my dad played at, it’s kind of like a family heritage.”
Simon Fraser beckons, but before she begins the collegiate chapter of her life, Grace Killins would love to help her high school qualify for the provincial championships, just like her dad did at the same school a generation ago.
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