NEW WESTMINSTER, BC — 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 basketball program for the Douglas College Royals.
2018-19 in Review
After winning a silver medal at the 2018 CCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship, the Douglas College Royals had their sights set on another Nationals appearance in 2018-19.
They came oh-so-close to a spot in the eight-team field, but their season came to an end in heartbreaking fashion in the PACWEST Championship Game.
In the regular season, the Royals finished second in the standings after posting a 12-6 record. They had an even split between home and road games, posting a 6-3 record on their home court and away from home. Douglas College built some momentum heading into the playoffs, winning seven of their final 10 games to build a head of steam as they looked to defend their PACWEST Championship.
Over that 10-game span, the Royals won five in a row from January 12th through the 26th.
In the playoffs, the Royals received a bye to the PACWEST semifinals by way of their second-place finish in the regular season standings. In the semifinals, the Royals met the third-seed Capilano Blues with a spot in the title game on the line. Douglas College used their high-powered offense to carry them to the 99-83 victory, earning them a spot in the conference championship game.
In the finals, fans were treated to one of the better games of the season between two of the top teams in the nation. The Royals and VIU Mariners met once again in the PACWEST Championship game, and this game was another classic in a series that has seen its share of talented players come through and standout performances.
Prior to winning their CCAA silver medal in 2018, the Royals knocked off the Mariners to win the PACWEST Championship. In 2019, the Mariners had redemption on their minds while the Royals looked to defend their title.
In the Championship game, fans saw a little bit of everything. A back-and-forth contest was capped off with an exciting closing stretch, one that saw the Mariners force overtime with a last-second layup. In overtime, the Royals were unable to seize the momentum back from the Mariners, and VIU picked up their fourth championship in five years with an 89-82 win.
“Tony Bennett said is really well after his game against UMBC when he said ‘it’s a painful gift’,” said Royals Head Coach Joe Enevoldson. “The VIU game was a painful way to lose, but the guys used it as motivation this summer to get better.”
“I’m excited to see the rate of improvement over the summer and the guys have worked extremely hard.”
Heading into the new season, there’s reason for excitement surrounding the Royals and the men’s basketball program. With their top three scorers back, plus a talented recruiting class that features some veteran experience, the Royals will be looking to get back to Nationals.
While there’s reason to be excited surrounding the Royals this season, they still have some holes to fill in their roster. A total of four players are gone from last year’s roster, three of which saw regular playing time over the course of the year.
Sylvester Appiah (New Westminster, BC) has graduated and since moved on from the team after playing his fifth year of eligibility last season. Appiah averaged 8.3 points per game last season which is the top mark in terms of players who are gone. He also posted 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting 46.1% from the field and 68.2% from the free throw line.
Forward EJ Christie (Brampton, Ont.) leaves a big hole in the front court. The seven-footer posted 5.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season while seeing the floor in 16 regular season games. Christie averaged 15.0 minutes per game over his regular season appearances.
Rounding out the group of three players who saw the floor on a regular basis is guard Gurkirat Kular (Surrey, BC). Kular saw the floor in all 18 regular season games, averaging 15.9 minutes per contest. He posted 5.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game on 35.4% shooting from the field.
Also gone is forward Parker Simson (Kelowna, BC). Simson did not play last season due to injury and won’t be back with the team in 2019-20.
In terms of depth, the roster takes a hit with their three key losses. The loss of Christie hinders the size of the Royals in the paint, but it’s an area they had previously addressed ahead of the season. The Royals return a strong core this season, a group that includes three double-digit scorers.
While the Royals lose three key pieces from last year’s rotation, they return their top three scorers and a ton of talent overall. Their top three scorers last season all averaged at least 13.8 points per game, giving the team a ton of offensive firepower to start the new season.
Leading the way is guard Courtney Anderson (Palestine, Tex.). Last season, his first with the Royals, Anderson averaged a team-best 19.8 points per game to go along with 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. Anderson shot 46.4% from the floor, 35.1% from three-point range, and 83.3% from the free throw line.
Anderson wasted little time before having an impact with the Royals last season. In his regular season debut against the Langara Falcons, Anderson went for 41 points in the Royals’ 124-114 win. He recorded double-digit points in 17 of the team’s 18 regular season games, highlighted by his 41-point performance. Anderson is one of the top guards in the conference, and he will take on a starring role yet again in 2019-20.
Tyrone Asenoguan (Vancouver, BC) is ready to build off last year’s breakout performance and help lead the team on both ends of the floor. Asenoguan posted 15.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 48.0% from the field and 69.1% from the free throw line. He saw the floor in 17 regular season games, six of which were starts.
Despite primarily coming off the bench, Asenoguan was a consistent producer on both sides of the ball. He recorded double-digit points in 16 of his 17 regular season appearances, and he grabbed at least seven rebounds on 10 occasions. As the team’s top reserve from last season, Asenoguan will be a key piece of the puzzle wherever he slots into the rotation this time around.
The third and final double-digit scorer back this season is Josiah Mastandrea (Port Coquitlam, BC). He posted 13.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 38.3% from the floor, 37.1% from three-point range, and 84.2% from the free throw line. Like Anderson and Asenoguan, Mastandrea was a consistent presence all year for the Royals.
Mastandrea recorded double-digit points in 14 of his 18 regular season appearances, and he topped the 20-point mark in three of those games. Mastandrea gives the Royals a go-to option from three-point range. He had nine games in which he made at least three jumpers from three-point range last season.
In addition to their three double-digit scorers, the Royals return their share of players who will look to expand their roles this season. Dylan Kinley (Surrey, BC) gave the Royals strong production on both sides of the ball last season, posting 7.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. Kinley was effective from the field, as well, shooting 42.0% from the field and 84.0% from the free throw line.
Shane Toporowski (Kamloops, BC) was one of the most effective players from the field last season across the CCAA. He finished the year shooting 72.6% from the field, averaging 7.6 points along the way. He also posted 4.4 rebounds per contest.
Taylor Smith (Burnaby, BC) posted 4.3 points and 2.6 rebounds per game while shooting 37.3% from the floor. Smith saw the floor in 17 regular season games, making 12 starts along the way.
“I’m pretty happy about our roster right now,” added Enevoldson. “We’re potentially looking to add one more.”
“I think our biggest recruit is the retention of athletes, retention of players from the year before.”
Equipped with a veteran roster, the Royals will be looking to avenge last year’s loss in the PACWEST Championship game and make a run at another berth to Nationals. While they have their top three scorers in the mix for another run, Enevoldson and the Royals have added key recruits to the mix to further solidify their rotation.
On the transfer market, the Royals have added a ton of size and experience to the mix to help solidify their rotation and to fill in any cracks they have in their roster. They have added a pair of transfers from the Canada West, plus they finally add a former Division I forward to the mix. To top it all off, they welcome back one of the stars from the team that won the CCAA silver medal two season ago.
Coming to Douglas College from the U Sports ranks are Cameron Morris (Burnaby, BC) and Sagar Dulay. Both players previously played in the Canada West, with Morris having played for the UBC Thunderbirds last season and Dulay having previously played for the Fraser Valley Cascades.
Morris saw the floor in 30 games for the Thunderbirds last season as UBC advanced to the U Sports Men’s Basketball Final Eight. He posted 3.3 points and 1.4 rebounds per game while averaging a shade over 10 minutes of court time per outing.
Dulay last suited up for the Cascades back in 2017-18. In 20 regular season appearances, he averaged 5.5 points and 1.4 rebounds per game.
The Royals also welcome back a familiar face to the program. Reese Morris (Burnaby, BC) returns to the program after sitting out last season. Morris was key to the Royals’ run through the PACWEST playoffs and at Nationals. He posted 11.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game during the regular season that year over 17 appearances.
In terms of high school talent, the Royals have added both Aidan Wilson and Jio Khan from 4A Burnaby South to the mix. Both Wilson and Khan will help to shape the future of the program. Guard Tevin Bayne (Sitka, AK.) also joins the program after a stint at Whatcom Community College in the NWAC North Division.
However, the biggest recruit for the Royals is a player they had around all of last season, but they finally have him on the court this season. Forward Bollo Gnahore (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) gives the Royals arguably the strongest front court presence in the PACWEST, and maybe the CCAA.
The 6’11’’ Gnahore comes to the Royals from the New Mexico State Aggies in the NCAA. He was a part of the New Mexico State team that featured Pascal Siakam back in 2015-16. While Gnahore never played a game for the Aggies due to injury, he comes to Douglas College fully healthy and ready to wreak havoc in the paint on both ends of the court.
On top of their returning group, Enevoldson and the Royals have added several impact recruits that can help the program, both now and into the future. They’ve addressed their need for size in the middle with the addition of Gnahore, plus they have added a ton of depth in the back court with their first-year players and transfers, alike.
Douglas College knows what it takes to advance to the CCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship. After falling just short of their goal last season in heartbreaking fashion, the Royals have loaded up for another run at the title.
The loss to the Mariners in the PACWEST Championship game stung at the time, but the team used that as motivation to get better over the summer months. Coach Enevoldson is excited to get the season underway to see their hard work pay off on the court.
With a star-studded recruiting class joining an already-talented group of returnees this season, there’s reason to be excited at Douglas College. The Royals will be among the nation’s top teams to start the year, and they will have National Championship aspirations once more in 2019-20.
Be sure to bookmark our 2019-20 Season Previews page to keep up with the previews as they are released online.
– T. Bennett