To say Red Deer College Kings basketball coach Clayton Pottinger is excited about the upcoming college season would be a huge understatement.
Think of a kid the day before Christmas and you’ll get a snapshot of how eager the coach is for the opening tip.
“This next season I’m so excited to work with this group of guys,” he said. “Everybody seems to be on the same page. We’ve recruited some great players and some great guys that are fitting in with our guys already so we’re developing some chemistry.”
The Kings recently welcomed aboard three high school players Pottinger feels will work well within the system which has seen this team make it to the national championship tournament in back-to-back years.
Sylvan Lake product Dallas Hancox, an athletic, big kid who graduated from the Hunting Hills High School program; JP LeBlanc, a six-ft. guard who comes in from Sturgeon Composite High School and Jordan Britton, who stands six ft. seven inches and played his high school ball at Drumheller.
All three players excite the coach with what they will bring to the Kings’ roster this season.
Pottinger says bringing these young, talented players in is a little easier than in the past due to the Kings’ reputation as a winning franchise but he says it wasn’t a slam-dunk.
“We certainly have a lot of talk about when we’re recruiting them but still it’s a tough game,” he said. “There are a lot of schools that have a lot to offer academically and athletically so it’s always a grind.”
Pottinger says he’s had his eye on Hancox since he was in Grade 11 and likes what he sees in the young man to this point.
“A lot of other schools were looking at him as well so it was great for us that we got him,” said Pottinger.
The coach says Leblanc has exceeded all their expectations to this point as the Kings get together a couple of nights during the week for some pick up ball.
“We wanted to bring in high school guard so we could have a nucleus for the future,” he said.” Every time we see him he just keeps getting better and better. He can shoot the ball well and he can handle the ball well.”
In Britton the Kings staff see an athletic player who can play from the perimeter, something Pottinger says they will work on with him.
“He’s got a solid work ethic, he’s a great athlete and he’s going to be a real team guy.”
All three players have an honest shot at getting into the starting lineup and will be able to show the coach what they bring to the court during camp in September.
“I think this team has the potential to be, on paper, the best team we’ve had since we’ve been here but it’s a long season and a lot can happen.”
He says there is enough of the returning core of players who want to go back and try to win it this time.
“We’ll have the leadership, we’ll have the depth, we’ll have the players in every position. We just have to get out there and do it.”
But he was quick to point out while the bar has been set high by past Kings teams in the ACAC recently, other teams in the league have been hard at it recruiting in order to keep pace.
“This may be our best team but I also think this may be the most difficult year,” he said.