Since Coach Clayton Pottinger arrived at Red Deer College in 2011, the Kings basketball team has since been at the forefront of the national collegiate basketball stage.
For three consecutive years, Pottinger’s Kings conquered on provincial courts leading them to three national presences landing them a fourth place finish in the 2011/12 season at nationals and a silver medal in the 2013/14 season.
Just narrowly missing the mark on a national title, Pottinger was eager to return last season, but instead watched as the cookie that was a fourth consecutive national appearance crumbled before him during a first round loss at the provincial championships held in Fort McMurray last spring.
Heading into last season, Pottinger remembers himself feeling optimistic about the season and excited for the season, this year he says he feels slightly nervous.
While one might think they would be nervous following last season’s finish, he instead says he is nervous because this year’s team is, “So good that the only thing standing in their way of a national appearance is me as a coach – that’s how good this team is.”
With confidence in his team’s ability, and a 2014 CCAA men’s basketball Coach of the Year title under his belt, Pottinger says he is excited about both the returning players and a few newly signed players who attended the Kings’ training camp over the weekend at RDC.
Two players remain on the team from their last visit to nationals in 2013 include JP Leblanc and 2014/15 Kings’ captain, Matt Johnson. Also returning from last year’s team will be Tyler Wise and Matt Mattear.
Newly signed and notable players include Ian Tevis (Seattle), Rodney Teal (Oklahoma City), Braeden Koteck (Regina) and Anthony Ottley (Pickering, Ont.)
Pottinger explains both newly signed American players were the team’s number one picks from their scouting in the U.S., stating it’s rare for a team to sign both of their number one picks.
“They are just great basketball players who fill spaces and needs with both being very experienced as well as excellent scorers and athletes,” says Pottinger on Tevis and Teal.
“Part of our recruiting process is making sure guys understand the culture on our team and what it means to play on a winning team.
“There was some immediate chemistry between our returning players and some of the newer guys and that’s something you always hope for as a coach – it was exciting because you never know how players will respond to one another.”
Koteck, one of three notable Canadian signees hailing from Regina has been on the Kings’ radar since high school, having played a year of basketball out of Keyano College, before taking a year off and then returning to the courts for a recent University of Calgary I.D. Camp.
“He didn’t quite make the U of C team so at that point we started talking seriously about him coming here. He is a well-rounded combo guard – excellent at both the shooting and point guard positions.”
Ottley hadn’t originally planned to attend the training camp, but made the weekend what Pottinger referred to as a, “Pleasant surprise times ten.
“He is the real deal and he has the potential to be the best player in our league, and likely in all of Canada if he does what he can do,” he says.
“He was just teetering on a pro contract that didn’t quite go through, so he decided he would come spend some time with us and finish his education and continue with his pro career next year.”
This year’s pre-season mash-up of games will see the highly anticipated return of the Kings’ annual RDC Sandman Classic – an annual pre-season tournament. This year’s twist to the tourney – a medley of American, Albertan and British Columbian teams battling it out before the season has even begun.
“Both the University of Northern British Columbia and Montana State Northern University are going to be in attendance and incredible pre-season games for us to have the opportunity to play at a very high level,” he explains, adding he is unaware of any other time in the last 25 years that an American team has played on the basketball courts of RDC.
The tournament will take place Oct. 8th-11th at Red Deer College.