Kyle Julius has been named the new head coach and general manager of the Fraser Valley Bandits. (Photo courtesy Saigon Heat)

Fraser Valley Bandits name new head coach, general manager

Thunder Bay native Kyle Julius becomes second head coach in team history

One of the best young minds in Canadian basketball is coming to the Fraser Valley Bandits.

Former NCAA, CIS All-Canadian and European professional basketball player Kyle Julius is the new head coach and general manager of the Bandits, and his main task will be to produce more victories for the team’s second year in the Canadian Elite Basketball League.

The Bandits announced the hiring on Thursday morning, and he replaces Peter Guarasci who led the club to a record of 4-16 in year one.

RELATED: Fraser Valley Bandits part ways with head coach, general manager

Julius brings years of on-court experience at many levels, but he’s also been a successful coach in several different leagues for the past five years.

After one season with the Mississauga Power of the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC), he moved on to the NBLC’s London Lightning and quickly began racking up wins in the 2015-16 season. The Lightning finished with a record of 26-14 in the regular season and advanced to the league championship but came up short.

The following year he helped direct the Lightning to the best regular season record in NBLC history at 35-5 and the club took home the league title.

Julius then moved on to the Saigon Heat of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), where he finished with a record of 24-22 in two seasons of play. The Heat qualified for the playoffs in both of his seasons, but bowed out in the quarter-finals in both 2017-18 and 2018-19.

More recently he inked a deal with the ABL’s Taiwan-based Formosa Dreamers. He’s the current coach of the team, and they have a record of 0-2 early into the 2019-20 season.

Julius said he’s excited to have the chance to coach in his home country again.

“I’m really excited and feel blessed to have the opportunity to coach in Canada again,” he said, speaking to The News from Taiwan. “I had such a great experience in the NBLC but I think the CEBL is run so well and the people in the league care about the league so much. The game of basketball is growing with the success of the Raptors and there is just so much talent and passion for game in Canada right now.”

The Thunder Bay native has been around the sport for as long as he can remember. His father Stu Julius coached women’s basketball at Laurier University for nine seasons, and growing up in that atmosphere inspired Kyle. He said he still leans on his father to this day for coaching advice.

Julius had an excellent high school basketball career and went on to play two seasons at South Carolina’s Furman University. He then finished up his college career with the University of Guelph. He eventually played professionally in Italy and Cyprus.

After his playing career and often during his time coaching, Julius began training players. He has helped developed over 50 Canadian high school players who went on to earn NCAA DI scholarships and over 100 professional players, including NBA players Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Olynyk, Anthony Bennett, Kevin Pangos and Andrea Bargnani. He has also helped train 67 Canadians currently playing professionally in Europe.

Many players in the CEBL have also trained with Julius. He was also the coach of Abbotsford product and 2019 Bandits player Joel Friesen in London. Julius and Friesen were key parts of the Lightning championship team in 2017.

“Joel is definitely one of my guys,” he said. “We look at the game the same way and what we experienced that year in London was tremendous.”

RELATED: Fraser Valley Bandits draft Abbotsford’s Joel Friesen first overall

Julius said he wants his team to be versatile and outwork the opposition on both ends of the floor.

“Having guys that can guard multiple positions is a big thing to me but my main thing is just grit and toughness,” he said. “We want to make it a way, we want it to be nasty. We want to win all the loose ball battles and I don’t mind some trash talk. I want to put a team on the floor that the fans are proud of.”

Bandits vice-president Dylan Kular believes Julius will be a great fit.

“I am extremely proud to announce Kyle as our new head coach and general manager. As British Columbia’s professional basketball team, we are constantly looking for ways to grow and improve, and today we have added a tremendous piece – one that immediately takes our team to another level,” he stated. “Kyle’s decorated history of winning at the university and professional level sets a strong precedent for the culture that players and fans will be a part of this upcoming season. I look forward to Kyle joining the organization this spring and connecting with Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley community.”

Julius will remain in Asia until late-March or April, depending on how well the Dreamers do.

For more information on the team, visit thebandits.ca.

Video courtesy: Saigon Heat

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