As he settles into a new basketball role on a new team at a new school, Kyler Eckess said he is embracing change and relishes the challenge of carving out a bigger role for himself.
The 20-year-old guard from Prince Rupert recently transferred from Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops to the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), hoping for an opportunity to earn more playing time on the school’s basketball team and improve his game.
Eckess said while he enjoyed his role as a practice player at TRU, he wanted to go to a place where he would be able to make more of a contribution in games.
“There’s pride in being a practice player and things like that but you’ve got to try and face what you’re striving for,” he said. “For me, that was getting to play. For me that was a big reason for trying to do that.”
So far, Eckess has been red-shirting — working out and practising — for the Timberwolves as he completes his transfer year. He said the biggest adjustment, aside from life on a new campus, has been getting used to the different playing style at UNBC. TRU employs a Princeton-style offence, which relies a lot on ball movements, screens and cuts away from the ball, whereas UNBC employs a much faster, uptempo, open-court style that relies heavily on guard play and pick-and-rolls.
“It’s been an adjustment for sure,” he said.
Eckess said UNBC also has a strong group of guards that he has to compete against regularly in practice, and the intense competition is forcing him to elevate his game.
“My two years at TRU were really beneficial…I have no regrets in that regard,” he said. “But I just wanted to play, and there’s a lot of things I still want to improve and learn.”
Making better decisions when coming off of screens and learning to better run pick-and-rolls were two of the things Eckess pointed as areas he wanted to improve. He also said that having access to a strength coach who taught him about effective training methods and proper nutrition had helped him as well.
“Having someone available to walk you through the work out is great,” he said. “The assistants and head coaches help the players with drills and help them get shots up.”
While the Timberwolves opened the season 0-2, Eckess is confident in what they can accomplish since those losses were against a Calagry team that competed in last year’s national tournament.
“Our roster is looking pretty promising,” he said. “And after having seen us play…there’s a lot to take out of it and a lot of things we can build upon.”