ABBOTSFORD — The best way to illustrate the vast athletic prowess and the seemingly unlimited ceiling of the Fraser Valley Cascades’ latest men’s basketball recruit is to take you, to of all places, the turf under the dome at B.C. Place Stadium.
It’s Subway Bowl Saturday back in December of 2015, the day B.C. high school football crowns its provincial champions, and if you’re watching the B.C. JV Double-A final, how can you not be impressed by the Mission Roadrunners’ 6-foot-5 Grade 10 tight end Dhivaan Bhogal?
On back-to-back occasions in the second half, Bhogal not only scored the touchdowns that kept his team within six points of North Vancouver’s powerhouse Windsor Dukes, but he stayed on the field to kick the extra-point both times as well.
Windsor, which this past season had one of the most dominant seasons in B.C. history, going undefeated en route to winning the B.C. Double A senior varsity title, came away 27-21 winners that day.
He wound up leaving football behind, transferring to Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Secondary for his final two years of high school where he promptly sprouted to 6-foot-8.
With his focus finally placed solely on basketball, Bhogal helped lead his top-tiered Quad A team this past March to the Fraser Valley title game, and a berth at the B.C. championships, capping a campaign in which he averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds per game.
All of this is brought to your attention to further emphasize one point: As good as you may have thought Dhivaan Bhogal was in high school, there might not be a player in B.C.’s graduating Class of 2018 who holds the same level of next-level potential as this former soccer midfielder-turned-tight-end-turned stretch-four Euro forward.
“Every coach I talked to through the recruiting process, they all told me they thought I had so much potential, that I could be a very good next-level player,” begins the affable Bhogal, who wraps up his high school career Friday when he suits up in the Mission-Abbotsford-Chilliwack ‘Bigger Than Basketball all-star game, a fund-raiser for the Canadian Mental Health Association, at Robert Bateman Secondary (girls 6:30 p.m., boys 8 p.m. full rosters here). “That is the kind of stuff that gives me even more drive and focus.”
Bhogal comes by his multi-sport background honestly. His older brothers Jeevan and Arjun excelled at both while at Mission, with Jeevan playing basketball collegiately at Quest and Arjun winning provincial high school football titles with the Roadrunners.
The little brother?
“On the offensive end, he can score on the low block and he can already knock down perimetre shots,” says UFV Cascades head coach Adam Friesen. “If both of those aspects continue to improve, he will be a threat all over the court.”
Bhogal, since the end of the provincial tournament in early March, has hit the weight room hard, and is tipping the scales at close to 195 pounds.
He needs to eventually carry about 220 and maintain his level of athleticism to make the explosive elements of his stretch-four game work both inside and out.
And the good news is, that from a physique standpoint, he is a big-boned athlete with the potential to carry more bulk and muscle on his frame.
Bring all of that to the party along with a love for the game and a wing-span that far out-strips his 6-foot-8 height, and the possibilities, from the defensive standpoint alone, are enormous.
“When you are one of the best players on your (high school) team you can’t always dig in because you have to worry about fouls,” says Rich Ralston, Bhogal’s head coach at Mouat.
“In college, he will be able to play with no fear on the defensive end and he can be more physical. He could grow into becoming a real defensive stopper.”
Hard-nosed 6-foot-6 forward Nav Bains, the only senior on UFV’s roster last season, was forced to miss the entire campaign with a knee injury, but Friesen loves what the former Tamanawis Wildcat will be able to impart on the young Bhogal when he returns to complete his university basketball career this coming campaign.
“He has all the tools to be excellent on the defensive end,” adds Friesen of Bhogal, “but he also has the mindset to understand it is a strength of his game, something he can take pride in. And in the low block, he has such great touch, such great length and multiple moves. As he gains experience and fills out, he has a chance to be a truly special player.”
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