In a very dark time for high school basketball, Clay Kurtz has found some light.
The G.W. Graham senior isn’t able to play hoops at school thanks to COVID-19, and probably won’t for the duration of his Grade 12 year.
But he knows where he’ll play b-ball next after committing to the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades men’s team.
“It feels great and committing takes a lot of stress off,” the teenager said. “I can just play basketball now and not have worry about where I’m trying to go and what college coaches I’m trying to prove myself to. I can settle down, focus on my team and grow with them.”
Kurtz was also considering Trinity Western University in Langley and UBC-Okanagan in Kelowna, but chose to stick close to home.
“I was pretty set on staying home and living with my family, so UFV was the only real option for me,” Kurtz said. “Saving money is super important, and for someone at a young age like me, being able to count on support from friends and family when school and life gets hard is huge.”
Coach Joe Enevoldson announced the addition of the talented guard Friday, and is excited to add a third member of the reigning AAA high school champion Grizzlies.
Kurtz joins the twin towers, Zach and Matthias Klim, on the Cascades.
“You want athletes in your program who encompass everything that you stand for – working hard in the classroom, in the community, in the weight room, and obviously on the basketball floor,” Enevoldson said. “Clay checks all those boxes. He’s played in the biggest game at the AAA level, he’s won a championship, and he’s won titles in other sports as well. He’s a local guy, so we definitely won the community there, and he’s a player who still has some room for growth on the basketball floor. I think he’s going to be a really big part of our program moving forward.”
Kurtz will be happy to have a pair of familiar faces on the court with him as he makes the next-level leap to U-Sports.
“It’s going to be sweet,” he said. “I can see the potential that they have. In three of four years when they get stronger, we’ll be a powerhouse.”
It has been tough for Kurtz and other hoopsters at G.W. Graham. The sport is a huge part of the athletic scene, even moreso since last spring’s senior boys won the first provincial b-ball banner in the school’s history.
At this time of year they’d normally be well into preseason play, travelling to tournaments across B.C.
This year teams haven’t even been formed, and might not be at all, and this week players weren’t even able to get into the gym for early-morning workouts.
Kurtz has stayed sharp playing with the B.C. Bounce program on weekends and he trains at his brother-in-law’s gym.
“We (B.C. Bounce) have four tournaments coming up at the Richmond Oval, so there will be a little five-on-five play, but it’s definitely not the same as having the fans there,” Kurtz said. “It’s crazy.”
When he does eventually hit the court with the Cascades, he hopes to bring size and athleticism to the UFV back-court.
“I hope I’m a good combo 1-2 guard that can push the ball,” he noted. “Whatever the coach wants me to do, I’ll play my role. For sure it’s a whole different level of play than high school, and I think the size and strength of the players and facing guys who are three or four years older than me will be an adjustment. But I’ll have to learn to do it, and I think my size (six-foot-two), quickness and jumping ability will let me hold my own.”
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