By Gavin Mackenzie
Although Ryerson’s men’s basketball team failed to make the national championship tournament this year, it’s not having any trouble attracting high calibre players for next year.
The Rams’ assistant-coach and tireless recruiter Bob Marsh says he has already courted three players he expects to be starters on next year’s team, two of whom come from the NCAA’s division one in the U.S., the highest level of collegiate basketball in the world.
The recruits could trigger a major shift in the Rams roster since only one of the team’s top five players has committed to return next year.
Starting guard Sam Gilbert has left the team and plans to play professional basketball in Israel. Bill Crowdis may also opt to play pro, Sasha Ivankovic may be forced to leave because of injuries and Ben Gorham has not decided where he’ll play next year.
One of the new recruits, Alfred McAllister, played at Gilbert’s old school Lafayette College i Pennsylvania. He spent two seasons at Lafayette before going to the University of Victoria.
McAllister, however, was only on the team for a few weeks. He left the school because he couldn’t enrol in the classes he wanted. Marsh insists McAllister will fill the void in the Rams roster if Gorham does not return.
A second NCAA recruit, Damian Dawkins, played at Seton Hall University in New Jersey last year but sat out this season for personal reasons. At 6-foot-11, the Brampton native will give the Rams some much-needed size at centre if 6-foot-7 Crowdis and 6-foot-6 Ivankovic leave.
Marsh also says point guard Sandy Jeffery has committed to coming to Ryerson next year. Jeffery won a national championship Durham College in 1997 but has been out of school for two years. He is expected to take over the point guard position left open by Sam Gilbert’s departure.
Marsh says he is eyeing a third NCAA player. Aron Molnar, another 6-foot-11 centre, played high school basketball in Mississauga and spent three seasons with Northwestern University in Illinois. But Marsh says he might not come if he’s offered a chance to play pro somewhere.
Marsh’s says his history with players helps him attract players.
“I have relationships with the players I recruit that is built on honesty and integrity,” he said.
Marsh knows the recruits will upset some returning players who expect more playing time next season. But he says he can’t let that influence his recruiting.
“I’m not here to win a popularity contest,” he said. “My job is to put the best student-athletes on the floor that I can.”
Marsh, who will enter his third year as assistant coach in September, says the coaching staff was unhappy with some of the players’ attitudes on and off the court this season and insists next season’s recruits will be more team-oriented and more focused on academics.
“We are looking to bring student-athletes who will appreciate playing at Ryerson,” he said. “Not just guys who feel they are owed something by us, and using Ryerson as a top on a bus trip to somewhere else.”
Marsh is also recruiting high school players but he will not release names to avoid bidding wars with other universities.