Healthy Clippers Looking to Shake Up ACAC Standings in 2019-20

Greer, CJ
CJ Greer (#5) and the Briercrest College Clippers will look to shake up the ACAC South Division standings in 2019-20. (Source: Cheryl Kozun – Briercrest College Clippers) (Header: Cherly Kozun – Briercrest College Clippers)

CARONPORT, Sask. — 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 Briercrest College Clippers.

2018-19 in Review

The 2018-19 season didn’t go the way of the Briercrest College Clippers. Injuries piled up for the youngest team in the ACAC, and one of the youngest in all of Canada, and the challenges were tough to overcome.

At year’s end, the Clippers finished with a record of 2-19 in the ACAC South Division. They finished in eighth place in the division, missing the playoffs as a result. The Clippers closed the year on a 13-game losing streak after picking up their two wins on back-to-back nights in November.

Briercrest’s two wins came at the expense of the Ambrose University Lions at the end of November. Both wins for the Clippers came on the Lions’ home floor in Calgary. On November 23rd, the Clippers picked up their first win of the season, a 79-73 decision.

The next night was another close contest between the two programs, but the end result still went in favour of the visitors. Briercrest completed the weekend sweep with an 82-77 victory over Ambrose.

Little did the Clippers know at the time, but those two wins over the Lions would be their only victories of the season. They closed the year on a 13-game losing streak, limping to the finish. Injuries took their toll on the roster, as did the program’s youthfulness and potential lack of experience.

However, that youthfulness should bode well for the future of the program, and Head Coach Shane Sowden is excited for what lies ahead after last season.

We return some major contributors from last season’s team and were able add some freshman and transfers that will contribute right away,” said Sowden. “After having the youngest starting line-up in the ACAC last season we are excited to have a few more veterans on the team this season.”

Looking ahead to the 2019-20 season, the Clippers will look to their returning veterans and a slew of incoming recruits to help the team climb out of the basement in the ACAC South Division standings.

Who’s Gone?

Coming off a year in which they won just two games, the Clippers have their attention focused squarely on the future. Heading into the 2019-20 season, Briercrest will be without three faces from last year’s team, all of whom played key roles in the rotation throughout the year.

In terms of production, the biggest loss will be Aaron Adrian (Abbotsford, BC). The Abbotsford native played 13 games over the course of the season, making eight starts along the way. He posted 9.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 40.5% from the floor.

Amiel DesLos Reyes (Regina, Sask.) has also moved on from the program after last season. Reyes posted an average of 7.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game over the course of the year, all while shooting 35.1% from the field and 60.6% from the free throw line.

Rounding out the group of three departures is hometown product Jason Wendel (Caronport, Sask.). The Caronport native averaged 4.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game for the hometown Clippers over 16 appearances last season. Wendel shot 50.8% from the field for the year.

In terms of experience, the Clippers’ losses will have an effect on the team moving forwards. However, they return their share of production on offense, and Sowden will look to use that to his advantage as he enters his second season at Briercrest.

“Taking over the program last year I knew the first season would be a rebuilding year,” added Sowden. “We were able to land a solid first recruiting class for the 2018-19 season and I feel like we were able to build upon a solid foundation with our recruiting class for the 2019-20 season.

Who’s Back?

The Clippers have an interesting mix of returnees this season. Four of their top offensive producers are back from last year’s 2-19 team, but they also welcome back a pair of familiar faces who stepped away from the Briercrest College program for their own reasons last year.

Leading the way in terms of returnees is CJ Greer (Chattanooga, Tenn.). When he’s healthy, the Tennessee native is one of the top guards in the ACAC, and his absence throughout the 2018-19 season was felt by the Clippers. Greer appeared in 15 games last season, averaging a team-best 16.3 points per game over his appearances. He added 6.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while shooting 43.2% from the floor and 37.7% from three-point range.

Greer missed the first five games of the season due to injury, but his impact was felt when he was on the floor and healthy. Over his 15 appearances, Greer recorded 12 games with double-digit points, and he topped the 20-point mark in five of those games. Greer also recorded at least five rebounds on 12 occasions, and he dished out at least four assists in six games.

As he embarks on his second season in the ACAC, Greer has all-star potential in the always-tough South Division.

Nic Gregerson (Edmonton, Alta.) was the only other player to average double-digit points for the Clippers last season. Gregerson posted 14.5 points to go along with 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game a year ago. As a freshman last season, Gregerson saw a lot of minutes given the younger lineup for the Clippers. As a second-year player in 2019-20, Gregerson will look to improve his shooting from long range (22.7%) while building off a strong debut season.

The pair of Brolin Simes (Saskatoon, Sask.) and Shayne Foster (Kinistino, Alta.) round out the group of four returnees from last year’s team. Simes posted 8.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game as a freshman in 2018-19. He was one of the top freshmen three-point shooters in the conference last season, hitting on over 36% of his attempts from beyond the arc.

Foster averaged 8.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season despite playing most of the year in the 5-spot. The 6’4’’ forward plays as a 4 more naturally, and he’ll be able to return to his natural position after playing the middle last season in a smaller lineup.

We have a long way to go after starting 5 freshman last season for half of our schedule,” added Sowden. “Hopefully we can stay healthy this season and continue to grow as a program in the always strong ACAC South Division.

“Very happy to have 6 returners who we expect to be valuable contributors this season on the court and in the locker room.”

The Clippers also welcome back a pair of veterans who stepped away from the program for the 2018-19 season. Fourth year forward Kyle Helsloot (Chilliwack, BC) returns to Briercrest College after playing last season with the Trinity Western Spartans in the Canada West Conference. The 6’9’’ forward adds a ton of size and a veteran presence to the front court rotation for Sowden this season. Back in 2017-18, Helsloot averaged 12.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

After sitting out last season, Branden Tolentino (Prince Albert, Sask.) returns to the lineup for the Clippers in 2019-20. Like Helsloot, Tolentino posted 12 points and 8 rebounds per game as a sophomore in 2017-18. He will bring yet another veteran presence to the mix for the Clippers, and he will help the team fix some of their weaknesses from last year.

In addition to their six returnees, the Clippers have a large group of incoming players, a group that has Sowden excited for the future of the program.

Incoming Talent

A total of eight new faces will decorate the Clippers’ roster this season. Seven players will be entering their first year of collegiate basketball, while a native of Dallas, Texas brings with him a wealth of experience from JUCO.

First year guard Derwin Lewis (Chattanooga, Tenn.) adds a level of familiarity to the roster right away for the Clippers. Lewis was a high school teammate of Greer, and their experience of playing with one another will give the back-court rotation a huge boost from the outset of the season.

Chris Cheatham (Dallas, Tex.) will enter his third year of collegiate basketball in 2019-20. Cheatham comes to the Clippers after playing at Columbia Basins College of the NWAC in Washington last season. He will bring more experience and quickness to the roster this season.

The Clippers have bolstered their guard spots, both now and into the future, with their 2019-20 recruiting class. Jude Shepherd-Hills (Saskatoon, Sask.) is a 6’4” guard from the Saskatoon Basketball Academy in the NPA. He brings size to the back-court rotation, and in turn, adding versatility to the mix.

Riley Seaborn (Moose Jaw, Sask.) gives the Clippers a point guard to build around as his career unfolds. Jackson Mayes (Salmon Arm, BC) gives the team quick, left-handed guard that will give his opponents troubles with his elusiveness.

Kal Berggren (Saskatoon, Sask.) and Carter Martens (Kelowna, BC) round out a strong group of incoming guards that Sowden can build around as their careers start to unfold. Up front, 6’6’’ forward Nelka Edoa (Montreal, Que.) adds some more size to the front court rotation.

The Clippers’ eight-man recruiting class has the program trending in the right direction. With a core group of returnees to build around this season, Sowden has the team looking upwards. They will still be a younger team than most, but their veterans have the talent to cause a shake up in the South Division.

Last season was one to forget for the Clippers. From injuries to yielding the youngest starting five in the ACAC, it was tough sledding for Briercrest College from the beginning.

The 2019-20 season promises to be different for the Clippers. With eight new faces in the mix along with a pair of returning veterans, the outlook surrounding the program has changed considerably from one year to the next. Equipped with one of the league’s top players in CJ Greer, the Clippers will look to cause a shake up in the ACAC South Division standings.

How different the 2019-20 season will be remains to be seen, but the Clippers are trending in the right direction. After picking up just two wins last season, an improved record is on the horizon. Look for the Clippers to make positive strides in Sowden’s second season as Head Coach.

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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