An earlier version of this article mistakenly said that the men's basketball team placed second in U Sports in the 2016/17 season, and has been updated. The Ubyssey regrets this error.
The UBC men’s basketball team made a pivotal signing on May 2 as one of BC’s top prospects Mason Bourcier put pen to paper for the ’Birds.
Bourcier, a Team BC and U17 national team player, was a standout point guard for his high school team: the Kelowna Owls of Kelowna Secondary School. At the 2017 BC Boys AAAA Basketball Championships, he was named MVP of the championship final game after scoring 29 points for the Owls.
“We’re obviously thrilled getting someone of [Bourcier’s] calibre to come to our program. It was a long process for him. It was two years on our part to try to get him to come here,” said Kevin Hanson, UBC head coach.
Bourcier’s signing comes amidst various offers from NCAA Division I teams. Still, he chose UBC because of its success last season. The ’Birds came out of the 2016/17 season with a 19-1 conference record.
“Everyone thinks [Division I] is top-notch basketball…If you actually look at a lot of the CIS teams, they’re beating Division I teams,” said Bourcier. “That’s especially what I think of [UBC] this year.”
Hanson believes that Bourcier will be an important addition to the T-Birds. With several of their key players graduating this year, including second leading scorer Jordan Jensen-Whyte, the team is looking to find new, talented roster additions.
With Bourcier’s skill on the court, Hanson believes that the new recruit will add to the ’Birds’ competitive culture.
“In order to have success, you need to have successful people in your program and [Bourcier] is one of those guys. He’s going to commit and he’s going to be a huge piece of our puzzle,” said Hanson.
Although Bourcier is coming to a new home, he will be seeing many familiar faces come September. One of his T-Bird teammates will be fellow Owl Grant Shephard, who signed with UBC just last month. Behind the bench, Vern Knopp — assistant coach for the T-Birds — also coached Bourcier last year on Team BC.
“He’ll do everything for me to develop as a basketball player,” said Bourcier of Knopp. “I’m definitely excited to get back on the court with him.”
What’s more, Hanson believes that Bourcier’s choice to come to UBC will allow him to remain closer to his own family as he will get to stay in the province.
“The best thing is he gets to stay close to home, where his parents can come and watch him play,” said Hanson.