Graduating GW Graham basketball star Phil Weston will fly with the Eagles next season.
The big forward has committed to Kwantlen Polytechnic University, joining the PACWest ranks.
“It was a big relief (getting it done),” Weston said. “Knowing that you get to keep playing the sport you love, and being offered a scholarship to attend University. Can’t ask for much better.”
The teenager said there were three schools showing interest.
He’ll face one of them, the Columbia Bible College Bearcats, in PACWest action next season. The second option would have required a drastic relocation.
The Briercrest Clippers, based in Caronport, SK., have welcomed graduating Grizzlies in the past (Lucas Mannes and Josiah Cockrill) and had their hat in this ring.
“Each school seemed to be watching me at provincials, and not long after provincials ended they got in contact with me,” Weston explained.
A trip to Kwantlen’s ID camp was the difference.
“It was strange walking into a gym where there is talent in every player, so of course I was nervous at first,” Weston recalled. “Near the end of the practice coach Vladi (Kwantlen head coach Vladimir Nikic) pulled me aside and said, ‘You sold me after the second drill. You are a great player, and I want to sign you right now.’”
Nikic took over as KPU head coach prior to last season and guided a rookie-laden lineup to a 2-19 record in 2014-15. That left the Eagles seventh in the PACWest standings, but Nikic believes the addition of Weston will be part of a turnaround.
“We strongly believe Phil is one of the best forwards coming out of the 2015 grad class and he will immediately make a tremendous impact on development of KPU basketball program,” Nikic said. “Phil’s rebounding and soft touch around basket will make our team significantly stronger. He is also the best fit for our high-tempo offense as he can play in the post and on the perimeter.”
Weston’s coach at GW Graham, Jake Mouritzen, believes he’s ready.
“Over the past season Phil has developed into one of the best post-men Graham has ever had, averaging 15 points and 15.5 rebounds in his senior year,” the coach noted. “He has worked hard to develop his outside game, he is a monster on the boards and runs the floor like a guard. And his ability to defend smaller quicker players makes him a special player on defense.”
All of that is true.
But Weston knows the leap from high school to college won’t be easy.
“It’s probably going to be a little rough, as any first year University athlete would expect, but I’m excited to take on the challenge,” he said. “It will be a transition from being a starter to potentially spending some time on the bench for most of my first year, but in that time I can learn and improve by watching and then playing at the skill level they need me to compete at.”