Men’s Basketball adds five recruits for 2020-21 season

Coach Justin Serresse and the Laurier Men’s Basketball program have welcomed five new players to their roster with the announcement of their 2020 recruiting class.

A mix of athleticism, speed and basketball IQ, Laurier welcomed two local prospects and one out of province recruit to headline their class. The five new additions include; Ethan Passley, Damien Nath, Lydell Husbands-Browne, Ismael Sow and Ryan Benn.

The Golden Hawks are coming off an exciting season, as they were able to qualify for the OUAplayoffs once again, finishing with an 11-10 record and battling the adversity of several injuries throughout the year. Laurier went on to win two memorable road playoff games and reached the OUA Semi-final for the second year in a row.

The team is now looking to take the next step and compete for a Wilson Cup next year. CoachSerresse is excited about the five additions to his team and believes they will be great teammates with the more experienced players on the team, making for a deep and balanced roster.

“First and foremost we were focused on talent as we are every year, but more importantly with this class we wanted to have youth and a good mix between guards and forwards,” Coach Serresse said.

“Within the next three years we are going to be losing a big chunk of our team, so we wanted to have young talented players who we could develop over the long-term and who were going to be here for five years,” he added.

Laurier lost two of their top players at the end of this past season with guard, Matt Minutilloand forward, Kemel Archer both graduating from the school. Both Minutillo and Archer played pivotal roles in the deep playoff runs that the Golden Hawks made over the past two seasons, and other impact players such as Ntore Habimana, Ali Sow and Ben Stevens are entering their final season playing with the purple and gold.

Serresse prioritized young talent who would stay with the Golden Hawks over the next several years as he realizes his current roster is ageing. One of the main reasons for optimism in this year’s recruiting class is the opportunity that the five new players will be given to developing their game under some of the top talents in the OUA like Ali Sow.

Ethan Passley, who grew up in Waterloo is a talented point guard with a lot of speed and cutting ability. The 6-0’ point guard most recently attended a basketball prep school in Brampton and should benefit the most from practice, as he will have the ability to improve his game under the leadership of Ali Sow.

“Ethan’s competitive mindset will challenge Ali every day in practice to be better and Ali will push Ethan to be better. We are very excited cause we haven’t had a true point guard in this role over the past couple of years,” Coach Serresse said.

Damien Nath is another local native who most recently played in the Ontario ScholasticBasketball Association (OSBA). The 6-0’ shooting guard was a second-team all-star in high school and will provide great depth to the team, while also bringing versatility as a guard or small forward.

Their next recruit, Lydell Husbands-Browne is one of the more prominent names added to theGolden Hawk roster. The 6-2’ small forward has put together a great junior basketball career so far and should make an impact right off the start with the Golden Hawks. The Halifax, Nova Scotia native had attended the top 40 All-Canadian development camp and was also a 2020BioSteel All-Canadian nominee.

“Lydell pops out. He is a great passer and a pass-first kind of guy, I compare him to Ntore[Habimana] with his great versatility and athleticism,” Coach Serresse said.

“As for Lydell, he can dribble and pass/dunk with both his left and right hand. His ability to be versatile in that playmaking role for us will be huge,” he added.

Husbands-Browne chose Laurier crediting the “family culture” that Coach Serresse has developed around the team. The new recruit also has ties to fourth-year forward, Ben Stevens, having attended the same high school as him in Nova Scotia.

Another member of their recruiting class with far closer ties to the team and who will certainly add to the family culture of Laurier is Ismael Sow.

Ismael is the brother of Laurier’s star player and USPORTS All-Canadian, AliSow and is hoping to follow a similar trajectory to his brother under the mentorship of Coach Serresse and his staff.

“Ismael can play the point if he needs to and can be a playmaker off screens as a shooting guard. He is versatile and does a little bit of everything,” Coach Serresse said.

The 6-2’ guard from Ottawa led his under 19 team to the Ontario Cup Championship in Ottawa and is excited to join his brother with the Golden Hawks. His scoring ability and alert defense have Coach Serresse excited about his potential.

“When we first got Ali [Sow], not a lot of people had high expectations for him, and I believe his brother is in the same boat. I believe Ismael is an under the radar recruit like Ali and is quite underrated. He may surprise quite a few people.”Coach Serresse again stated the importance of Ismael learning under his brother and the other experienced guards.

The final addition to the Golden Hawks’ roster is 6-7’ power forward, Ryan Benn. Benn who is from Mississauga, Ontario is the only recruit that Coach Serresse was not able to meet in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Benn, who most recently played at a prep school is believed to be a raw prospect who has a great opportunity to develop.

“Benn has length and can shoot the ball for a big man. He has good form and can play inside, but will need to work out a lot, eat a lot and gain a lot of strength, “Coach Serresse said.

“While he will probably redshirt for the first year, if we can develop him the way we envision the he will bring us another dimension by stretching the floor and can become an impact player in the future,” Serresse added.

While the COVID-19 pandemic impacted recruiting and team operations across the entire USPORTS landscape, Coach Serresse credited the hard work of his staff to limit most of the challenges.

“The coronavirus situation didn’t impact us too much and that’s a testimony to the work that we have put in the last couple of years.”

“We already had a workout and visit with four out of the five recruits and the fact that we knew most of these guys very early on in the recruiting process made us lucky when the restrictions were put in place,” said Coach Serresse.

The OUA and USPORTS announced in June that all fall sanctioned sports and events were cancelled up until Dec. 31, 2020. Coach Justin Serresse and his team await word from the OUA on updates regarding a return to play in the winter term.

The Canadian EliteBasketball League (CEBL) became the first professional sports league to start back up in Canada as they began their summer series this past weekend. Ali Sow who was drafted by the Guelph Nighthawks in the second round of the CEBL draft this past March, was left off the gameday roster for the season.

“I think [Ali] was quite disappointed he didn’t make the roster and that will only motivate him more. I’m not worried about him, he is still young and there are a lot of talented players across USPORTS,” Coach Serresse said of Sow missing out on the Nighthawks roster this summer.

Although he is missing out on CEBL play, Ali Sow will turn his attention towards the Golden Hawks and will get the chance to play with his brother and new teammate Ismael, when Laurier basketball does return to action, likely this winter.

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