2019 ACAC Men's Basketball Playoff Preview

Photo: Chris Oppong courtesy Sportsgate Fort McMurray
Photo: Chris Oppong courtesy Sportsgate Fort McMurray

by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips

For his first three years of post-secondary education and yes, basketball, Chris Oppong literally dribbled from one school to another and yet another.

It took him a while to find a home in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

More on that later.

Following graduation from St. Marguerite D'Youville S.S. in Brampton, Ontario, the 6-foot-2 tenacious guard, headed west to play U Sports for the Brandon Bobcats for the 2011-2012 campaign.

He appeared in 19 games averaging 6.8 minutes per game while scoring two points per game.

He would return home to be with York University Lions in 2013-2014 while lacing up the sneakers for only 28 minutes and eight points in eight game appearances.

Shifting from U Sports to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association, Oppong would remain in Toronto and suit up for the Seneca Sting of the (Ontario Colleges Athletic Association) where in 2014-2015 he upped his stats in all departments with 21.8 minutes per game on the hardwood while swishing in 7.6 points per game and windexing the glass for 3.1 rebounds per game.

He would undo the shoelaces for the next two years.

"I took some time off basketball...a couple of years basically," admits Oppong, 26. "I was frustrated not finding the success I wanted in post-secondary basketball."

"Plus there were some personal things I was going through. I was putting so much into basketball and was not putting that much into my studies. I basically stopped playing."

"Finally a friend of mine at York invited me to play on his men's team and I joined his team and I re-found the love and passion for the game. I was playing men's league and pickup and found some motivation again."

With the idea of returning to post-secondary sport, Oppong - a big fan of "Kobe Bryant growing up because I liked his mentality and the way he approached the game with his passion," - started to send out e-mails to respective schools across Canada, from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

"I was throwing our e-mails for anyone to take a shot at me," said Oppong. "I wasn't getting much interest or love back and was about to pack it in when (Keyano Huskies men's basketball coach) Jeremy Wielenga responded and showed interest. I saw the opportunity and took it and ran with it."

Run he did, as Oppong last year (2017-2018) stopped-popped-dropped at a 13.1 points per game average (7th in North) with an impressive 7.13 rebounds per game (8th in North) rounded out by 3.44 assists per game (5th in North).

He would up his scoring output to 20.3 points per game in the ACAC playoffs where the Huskies placed 5th.

Joining him on the Huskies team for the second year-in-a-row is his brother Brandon, 22, who is more of a role player.

"When he found out that I as coming here, he wanted to come out and be a support for me."

For Oppong his first love in sports was the sport of soccer.

"My dad played soccer and my mom did track and netball growing up," recalls Oppong. "For the African community in Toronto soccer was the main thing. In Grade 7 though, one of my teachers said that I should give basketball a shot."

It was around this time frame that Oppong lost his father Billy to heart problems.

"My father had a heart condition and he died when I was 14," recalls Oppong, the tone in his voice evident that the loss still remains. "Basketball helped me through it. When I went to the court...the real world problems never seeped into my mine. As long as I was playing basketball it was a place of protection and healing. At first it was an avoidance tool but it channeled to help me take my emotions and channel them in a positive way. Instead of channeling into anything negative."

Oppong hopes to pursue a Masters in Psychology. "I have always had an interest in how the mind works. People are too complex to figure out."

At the conclusion of the interview Oppong asked if he could make one last comment.

Sure.

"My faith in terms of all the adversity is the main thing that has helped me push through and overcome."

Oppong and the Huskies take to the court at Lakeland College along with seven other teams as Lloydminster Alberta is the site of the 2018-2019 ACAC Men's Basketball Championships.

Thursday February 28, 2019

Game 1 1 p.m.

Ambrose University Lions vs. Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder

Ambrose University Lions

Josh Daniels, Ambrose University Lions

12 wins 9 losses
Points: Josh Daniel 16.6
Rebounds: Riley Cordwell 5.9
Assists: Josh Daniel 3.6

Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder

20 wins 4 losses
Top Performers (Per Game Average)
Points: Ryan McLaren 23.3
Rebounds: Julien McFadden 7.0
Assists: Keaton Souster 2.9

Game 2 3 p.m.

University of Alberta Augustana Vikings vs. Red Deer College Kings

University of Alberta Augustana Vikings

15 wins 9 losses
Points: Mason Hunter 16.4
Rebounds: Michael Stasuik 6.7
Assists: Nathan Bowie 3.9

Red Deer College Kings

13 wins 8 losses
ACAC Championships: 3
Points: Spencer Klassen 25.6
Rebounds: Anthony Harper 6.7
Assists: Malik Smith 5.6

Game 3 6 p.m.

Lakeland College Rustlers vs. SAIT Trojans

Lakeland College Rustlers

12 wins 12 losses
Points: Rashon Russell 15.5
Rebounds: Artavis Holiday 8.0
Assists: Adrian Richards 4.7

SAIT Trojans

Ian Tevis, #6 SAIT Trojans

20 wins 1 loss
ACAC Championships: 14
Points: John Smith 23.9
Rebounds: Charlie Conner 7.2
Assists: John Smith 4.3

Game 4 8 p.m.

Medicine Hat College Rattlers vs. Keyano College Huskies

Keyano College Huskies

17 wins 7 losses
Points: Chris Oppong 14.6
Rebounds: Stefan Jovic 8.6
Assists: Chris Oppong 4.9

Medicine Hat College Rattlers

13 wins 8 losses
Points: Kieron Burgess 24.1
Rebounds: Kieron Burgess 18.3
Assists: Jon Sappleton 5.0

 

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