Recruiting players for this year’s edition of the Lambton Lions men’s basketball team took the coaching staff across southern Ontario and parts of Michigan.
“We go to a lot of high school games,” said head coach James Grant, who manages most of the scouting with assistant Matthew Rose.
“We get out there and pound the payment… we’re contacting 100 players a year.”
And getting young talent to come to Lambton is not a hard sell, he added.
“It goes a long way with convincing guys that we run a program that gives them the skills to succeed after college,” said Grant.
The graduation rate for basketball players is nearly 100%, and some go on to a professional career. The most recent was last year point guard Branden Padgett who’s playing with BC Urartu in the Armenian Championship League.
“Sarnia is the type of community where they can focus on school and focus on basketball and get better at both,” Grant said.
The Lions are coming off a 21-11 (13-7 OCAA) campaign and are returning with much of the roster intact.
Nine new recruits were added, including two players from Michigan and seven from the Toronto area.
The additions include 6’ 6” Dénes Hegedűs who is hard to miss on and off the court. The Hungarian-born forward arrived in Brampton with his family four years ago.
In his home country, Hegedűs was ranked one of the top players his age, and last season the 17-year-old averaged 30 points a game and was named team MVP at his high school, Sandalwood Secondary.
“He was one of the most highly recruited guys in Toronto… Humber was after him and other schools,” said Grant.
“It’s amazing that he came to Lambton and it really shows that we’re on the right page.”
Lambton recruited four students from the Humber-West area last year, and Toronto coaches now reach out to Grant with students in mind.
“The word kind of got out that we take really good care of people down here at Lambton,” said Grant. “It just started to reverberate across the GTA.”
The OCAA men’s basketball season kicks off Oct. 18 when Lambton hosts Conestoga at the Sarnia campus, starting at 8 p.m. For more visit lclions.ca.