Men’s Basketball alumni, Archer and Habimana making Laurier proud on an international stage


Photo by Darien Funk

The Wilfrid Laurier University men’s basketball team has become an impressive program since coach Justin Serresse joined in 2016. While finding on-court success, appearing in back-to-back OUA semi-finals in the past two seasons, Serresse has also developed a tremendous culture surrounding the team. 

Serresse has posted great results in his first four seasons with the team, a buzzer-beater away from an OUA final last season and posting an 18-6 record in 2018-19, the best record in school history. Yet what is more important to Serresse during his four-year tenure with the Golden Hawk student-athletes is what he calls the “game of life.” 

A philosophy Serresse instills, dedicating much of his role to leading and developing all his student-athletes into successful careers outside of basketball or successful post-Laurier basketball careers. 

Two of the biggest examples of this are recent Golden Hawk graduates, Kemel Archer and Ntore Habimana, who are carving out impressive post-Laurier careers, excelling on large basketball stages this past summer. 

Graduating after the 2019 season, Archer proved himself as a strong power forward in three years with Laurier.

With Serresse’s guidance and advice, Archer was able to play his first season in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) this past summer, winning his first championship with the Edmonton Stingers. 

“It was a surreal moment; it was so great to win and be on the other fence” Archer said. 

“I’ve never really won a championship… the last time I might have won is probably in grade six playing on the streets with my friends,” Archer said. 

Habimana also displayed his well-rounded skill set in each of his four years with Laurier after joining the team as a rookie walk-on in 2016. 

“We could see Ntore’s potential when he first joined Laurier. I knew he had it in him and I am super proud of what he’s been able to accomplish,” Coach Serresse said. 

Losing his final season last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Habimana got the unique opportunity to represent his father’s country on an international stage. Habimana played this past summer at the FIBA Afrobasket tournament representing Rwanda.

In four games he was able to contribute to two wins, averaging 4.3 points and helping his team achieve a tenth place finish in the tournament. 

“What they have both been able to do this past year is remarkable,” Serresse said. 

The last time Laurier played – over a year and a half ago in early 2020 – both Archer and Habimana were key pieces of Serresse’s team. Archer was named team MVP of the 2019 season, after averaging a double-double each game, while the 6’5 Habimana was ultra-productive across all aspects of the game, providing needed size and versatility to Serresse’s team. 

Habimana represented the Golden Hawks and his country on a big stage this past summer. With the tournament ending nearly two weeks ago, he hopes to land a professional basketball contract after his performance. 

Archer on the other hand, will be entering his second professional season playing overseas. After playing in the Spanish second division last year with C.D.E Becedo and upon being named forward of the year in Spain, Archer decided to move to the UK to continue his career. 

Archer, who was the first of Serresse’s recruits to play professionally, will now play with Solent Kestrels of Southampton this year, one of the top teams in their division. At the same time, he will be studying towards completing a master’s in sports management in the UK. 

“It is a great team and organization and I just want to continue to show my overall game,” Archer said. 

The bond between a coach and a player is truly one of the most special things in sports and Archer and Serresse have a special one. 

Instrumental in his signing with the Stingers, Serresse and Archer keep in touch with each other regularly. Archer shared that he and Serresse’s daughter share the same birthday, prompting Coach to call him “Uncle Kemel.” 

“He is a bright, professional and reliable kid as well as a leader for the team,”Serresse said in February of 2020, Archer’s final home game with Laurier. 

“I owe a lot to Coach Serresse,” Archer said. “He was one of the first coaches to be real and transparent with me,” he continued. 

Archer spoke about the development process that he underwent in his three years with Laurier and how that has helped shape him into the player and person that he is today. 

“He brings a European style of coaching and coaches his heart out. Justin cares so much about his players, the team and the game,” Archer said. 

With Serresse at the helm, Laurier’s men’s basketball program has turned into a successful, yet incredibly well-rounded team.

Focusing on the student-athlete balance and the “game of life,” expect to see more of Serresse’s players shining during and after their Laurier careers.

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