McGill Looking for Bounce-Back Year in RSEQ in 2019-20

Jenkins, Sam
Sam Jenkins is one of the top returning scorers for McGill in 2019-20, and he will look to help the team bounce back from a 9-7 finish a season ago. (Source: McGill Athletics) (Header: McGill Athletics)

MONTREAL, Que. — If you’re reading this, it’s not too late.

The 2019-20 basketball season is right around the corner, and we’re here to help you get set for what will surely be an incredible journey.

While we’re still looking back on an incredible 2018-19 season, one that saw two teams win their first-ever National Championships in school history, it’s also the perfect time to look ahead. The 2019-20 season promises to deliver a heightened level of excitement, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the new campaign.

To get fans across the country ready for the new season, we’ve taken on a challenge that hasn’t been done before. In the coming weeks, we will preview every team from coast to coast ahead of the 2019-20 season.

That’s 111 different programs, if you’re keeping a tally.

From August 8th through to October 6th, every team will be previewed in some capacity. For institutions that have both men’s and women’s basketball, a separate preview piece will be done for each team.

Rosters will be dissected and a look back at the year that was will help us determine what the team looks like this time around as every team begins with a blank slate in the standings.

Without further adieu, here is today’s preview on the men’s program from McGill University.

2018-19 in Review

The 2018-19 season was an up-and-down one for McGill. One year removed from a fourth-place finish at Nationals, McGill struggled to build any sort of sustained momentum throughout the regular season.

The year started with one of the more anticipated games in recent memory, as McGill was one of three teams to take on RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and the Duke Blue Devils on Duke’s Canada Tour. In front of over 10,000 fans at Place Bell in Laval, the Blue Devils rolled to the 103-58 win over McGill.

Overall in 2018-19, McGill posted a record of 14-14, posting a record of 5-6 in exhibition play. Four of their exhibition losses came against NCAA opponents to begin the 2018-19 season.

In RSEQ play, McGill posted a record of 9-7 to finish second behind the Concordia Stingers in the regular season standings. By way of their regular season finish, McGill hosted their playoff semifinals game against the UQAM Citadins.

In the regular season, McGill and UQAM split the season series with two wins apiece. Three of he four games were decided by single-digits, while McGill picked up a 91-69 victory in the other meeting. The teams won both games on their respective home court, which put their semi-final contest in favour of McGill.

The Citadins didn’t care for McGill’s home court advantage, and they bucked the trend to punch their ticket to the RSEQ Championship game. Alix Lochard posted 24 points and six rebounds to lead the Citadins to the 79-69 win over McGill inside Love Competition Hall, ending the season for McGill in the process.

For the record, Lochard was named both the RSEQ Rookie of the Year and the U Sports Men’s Basketball Rookie of the Year.

Looking ahead to the 2019-20 season, McGill will be without several familiar faces from last year’s roster. Based on the participants in their first five exhibition games in 2019-20, McGill will have its share of talent, but will also miss their departing veterans.

Who’s Gone?

When comparing last year’s roster to the team that McGill sent out in their exhibition games against NCAA opponents this season, several key names were missing. In fact, McGill will be without four of their top five scorers from RSEQ play a season ago, leaving holes to fill all across the lineup.

Guard Alex Paquin (Candiac, Que.) only saw the floor four times during conference play last season due to injury, but was a key piece to the puzzle when he was halthy. Paquin, a transfer from the American Univ. Eagles of the Patriot League, averaged a team-high 19.8 points per game over his four regular season appearances. He added 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 39.2% from the floor and 83.3% from the free throw line.

Against Duke in their preseason meeting, Paquin went for 29 points, on 12-of-19 shooting, and received a standing ovation upon leaving the game. He was the only player for McGill to record double-digit points in the loss.

Also gone from last year’s team are fellow fifth-year graduates Noah Daoust (Dorval, Que.) and Avery Cadogan (Winnipeg, Man.). Daoust and Cadogan both played five seasons at McGill, sacrificing a lot for the program. Daoust averaged 11.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 49.1% from the floor in his final season. He recorded double-digit points in 12 games last season, and he closed the regular season with five straight.

Cadogan was the team’s top rebounder from last season, averaging 5.6 rebounds per contest to go along with his 10.8 points per game on offense. Cadogan matched Daoust in terms of shooting, hitting on 49.1% of his attempts from long range. He posted 14 points and 10 rebounds against the Brandon Bobcats in exhibition play on December 29th for his only double-double of the year.

One player who isn’t listed on McGill’s 2019-20 roster is Anthony Fisiru (Gatineau, Que.). In 2018-19, Fisiru was the only player to start all 16 regular season games for McGill. He posted 9.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game as a first-year student-athlete.

Isaiah Cummins (Oshawa, Ont.) was out last season due to injury and has also graduated from the program.

In total, McGill will be without five names from their roster a season ago. They still return their share of veterans, a group that includes one of the more underrated players in the RSEQ this season.

Who’s Back?

While their losses are quite significant in terms of a production standpoint, McGill returns some intriguing pieces who will look to help guide the team back to Nationals after a one-year hiatus last season. With a handful of veterans mixed with up-and-coming talent, McGill has an intriguing roster heading into 2019-20.

Leading the way this season will be third-year guard Sam Jenkins (Hamilton, Ont.). As a first-year player in 2017-18, Jenkins was named to the RSEQ All-Rookie Team, and he’s continued his ascent from there. Last year, Jenkins posted 7.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 33.7% from the field and 72.7% from the free throw line.

Jenkins showed flashes on offense last season, posting eight games with double-digit points across both exhibition play and the regular season. In exhibition play ahead of the 2019-20 season, Jenkins has shown an improved offensive game. He went for 33 points in McGill’s 90-78 loss to the Albany Great Danes, and he’s recorded double-digit points in all five preseason games thus far.

Levi Londole (Lasalle, Que.) is back in the mix, and the 6’8’’ forward will look to give McGill a big boost inside in what’s expected to be a larger role this season. Last year, Londole posted 6.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest in just over 18 minutes of floor time per night. He saw the floor in 16 games, but made just two starts. Look for Londole to be a regular in the starting five this season, giving McGill a consistent presence in the paint on both ends of the floor.

Hamel-Carey, JJ
The return of JJ Hamel-Carey in 2019-20 would give McGill a significant boost on both sides of the ball. (Source: McGill Athletics)

One player’s status that is up in the air for this season is JJ Hamel-Carey (Montreal North, Que.). The veteran guard is listed on McGill’s website as a part of their 2019-20 roster, but without a number to his name. He hasn’t seen the floor in their five preseason games thus far ahead of the new campaign.

Jamal Mayali (Toronto, Ont.) and Quarry Whyne (Montreal, Que.) are also back in the mix, and both players figure to take on larger roles this season. Mayali gave McGill significant contributions last season, primarily as a reserve, posting 7.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game on 54.2% shooting from the floor. Over a five-game stretch from February 2nd through 21st, Mayali posted four double-digit point performances, a stretch that included a 20point showing against Concordia on Valentine’s Day.

Whyne posted 5.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest while shooting 37.1% from the field. He closed out his first season at McGill with back-to-back double-digit point performances.

If Hamel-Carey does suit up for McGill this season, it will be a welcome addition. If he doesn’t play, McGill still has talent back from last year’s team to ease the transition from one season to the next. Add in a large recruiting class, some of which has CEGEP experience under their belts, and McGill has the look of a team that can improve on last year’s 9-7 finish.

Incoming Talent

On their roster, McGill has seven players listed as first-year student-athletes, one of which is listed as a redshirt for the upcoming season. Three of their players come from the collegiate level of the RSEQ, bringing post-secondary experience with them to McGill.

Charles Couture (Longueuil, Que.) and Zachary Lavoie-Toure (Montreal, Que.) come to McGill after playing with the Champlain – St. Lambert Cavaliers last season. The pair join Hamel-Carey and Nicholas Noble (Ville St. Pierre, Que.) as members of McGill who have come through the Cavaliers program.

Jonathan Akhras (Montreal, Que.) is the third first-year player to come from the CEGEP ranks as he joins McGill after playing with the Dynamiques de Jean-de-Brebeuf last season.

Guards Cameron Eliot (Ottawa, Ont.) and Will Ramberg (Grand Marais, Minn.) bring size and depth to the back court rotation. Eliot stands at 6’4’’, and he’s been a regular in the starting five for McGill during the preseason. Ramberg stands at 6’5’’, bringing versatility to the lineup.

Forward Andrew Vanderhooft (Regina, Sask.) stands at 6’5’’ and adds depth to the mix, while fellow forward Adam Afifi (San Jose, Calif.) joins McGill from Mater Dei Prep High School.

McGill has added some interesting pieces to the mix for 2019-20 and beyond. Eliot has been a factor in the preseason, and will look to continue his strong play into the regular season. With opportunities aplenty with the team this season, McGill will look to get the most of their new student-athletes as the season unfolds.

McGill knows what it takes to advance to Nationals. Injuries derailed what was a promising season in 2018-19, and they will be looking to bounce back this time around.

While their starting rotation will look considerably different this season, McGill returns its share of intriguing talent from a team that still finished second in the RSEQ with an above .500 record. Adding Hamel-Carey back will give the team another boost, one that it needs, but it’s not the end of the world if he misses 2019-20.

With Jenkins and Londole leading the way, along with a slew of incoming talent, McGill will look to contend atop the RSEQ standings once more while putting themselves in contention for a trip to the U Sports Men’s Basketball Final Eight.

Be sure to bookmark our 2019-20 Season Previews page to keep up with the previews as they are released online.

– T. Bennett

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