Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – On the heels of his first recruit announcement last week, new Griffins head coach Mike Connolly has added two more potential impact players to the program.
Mason Hunter – a top-scoring transfer from the UAlberta-Augustana Vikings – and Grayson Youngs – a high school all-star and provincial team member out of Ross Sheppard – will join the program for the 2019-20 Canada West campaign, Connolly announced Friday.
Hunter finished 13th in scoring in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference in 2018-19 with 16.4 points per game, leading the Vikings to a 15-9 record and ACAC bronze medal. The 6-foot-3 wing out of Ardrossan high school shot a sizzling 49 per cent from the field and 41 per cent from behind the arc last season.
"Mason is an exceptional scorer with good range on his three-point shot," said Connolly. "Mason will have an immediate impact with the Griffins basketball program and will compete for big minutes this year, adding to our depth and quality of our backcourt."
Connolly, who was previously the NAIT Ooks' bench boss, knows Hunter's impact first-hand as he tried to stop the marksman on a regular basis the past two seasons.
"Coaching against Mason the last two years, we have seen him improve his offensive game immensely to the point where he had several 35-plus point game outputs for the Vikings this past season," he noted of the future MacEwan Commerce student-athlete. "Mason was the most difficult player for us to guard (at NAIT) this past year. If he gave NAIT problems, he will also give other Canada West schools defensive challenges."
Youngs is graduating from Ross Sheppard high school this spring and finished off his high school basketball career with a Metro Athletics City all-star nod in 2018-19.
"Grayson is another high school athlete who we had to our training sessions at NAIT last summer and he competed well and fit in with other ACAC players," said Connolly. "When I watched him compete against older, stronger guys, I knew then that Grayson had what is necessary to be successful at the next level.
"Adding Grayson along with Colton (Halbersma out of Strathcona Christian, who introduced as a Griffin on Thursday,) to our program means our backcourt will be very solid for the next five years to come."
Youngs, who is capable of playing point guard or shooting guard, competed for Team Alberta last summer. The 6-foot-1 Edmontonian also played on a national youth team, coached by national team coach Gregg Francis, that attended the world youth club tournament in China last June.
"Grayson is a very intelligent player with a High basketball IQ," said Connolly of the future MacEwan Arts student-athlete. "Grayson is a very good shooter, which will allow us to be flexible with where we play him.
"Grayson will learn the point guard position from our veterans Deonte (Doslov-Doctor) and Jake (Notice) and will gain valuable experience supporting and playing with these quality players," he added. "Grayson's provincial team and international competition experiences will let him fit in to our system easily and should allow him to compete immediately on the team."