By Ryan Wolstat
Men’s basketball captain Vladimir Matevski will be back in the Rams lineup this year after winning an appeal with Ontario University Athletics.
The veteran leader received an extra year of eligibility after the OUA ruled that the Macedonian league he played in before coming to Canada was not a professional league.
Under OUA rules, players must forfeit one year of eligibility for every year they play in a professional league.
“We proved that the league he played in wasn’t a pro league,” said Ryerson sports and recreation program director Dave Dubois. “The OUA considered that and ruled in his favour.”
When Matevski came to Ryerson in 2000, he sat out his rookie season without appeal and forfeited two years of eligibility. It was not until this summer that he decided the OUA was treating him unfairly.
“After a few years, I realized, that’s not right. I had one more year of school and I wanted to play ball, so I felt like we had to appeal this,” Matevski said.
He never doubted that he would win his appeal. “They put this rule onboard to prevent people from Canada from playing for money in the summer and then coming back to school,” Matevski said. “But that doesn’t apply to me. I was born there (in Macedonia) – that was the only way I could play basketball. There’s no university teams; it’s all club systems. You start from when you are nine years old. I just felt like that’s my right [to play].”
And Ryerson’s basketball staff isn’t complaining about having him back. “He’s aggressive, he plays hard and he’s one of the best defenders in the league,” assistant coach O’Neil Kamaka said.
Head coach Patrick Williams said his team was blessed to get another season out of their most experienced player. Matevski is anticipating his return as much as his coaches are.
“It’s great. I wanted to play one more year and get the team back on track and leave it from there,” said the six-foot-two guard. He did not want his university career to end with a winless season.
“Nobody would want to go out like that. I think this year is going to be a whole different story. We are on the right track.”
Matevski was the Rams second-leading scorer last season with 16 points per game, nearly doubling his average from the year before, but he hopes that he won’t have to carry quite the scoring load this season.
“My stats went up last year, because before the team had a lot of guys (most notably Jon Reid) that could score, so I had a different mindset. Last year (particularly after scoring star Errol Fraser’s season-ending knee injury), I had to change my mindset so I could be more productive for the team.
“I hope I won’t have to do as much this year. The team looks better and I can see that some of the young guys are taking more responsibilities and I’m expecting that from them.”