When the Brock Badgers men’s basketball season ended there wasn’t much to celebrate without making the playoffs. However, the roster is somewhat worthy of comparison to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, who drafted Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, later becoming the two cornerstone pieces to the young franchise.
CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) basketball is not the NBA, but Dani Elgadi and Johneil Simpson, like Durant and Westbrook, are the two cornerstone pieces for Head Coach Charles Kissi’s squad. Both Elgadi and Simpson earned OUA Rookie of the Year honours in their respective rookie campaigns, showing that the Badgers basketball program is on the rise like the early days of Oklahoma City.
Elgadi won the award after the 2013-14 season and continued this success into his sophomore year. Simpson was announced as the award recipient only a couple weeks ago, after a strong rookie campaign in ‘14-15. Just this past week Simpson was also honoured with the Dr. Peter Mullins Trophy, which is the award for Rookie of the Year in CIS Basketball.
“It’s an honour,” said Simpson. “I’m glad I can be a part of the reason Brock athletics are seen in a positive light.”
“It feels good,” said Kissi of coaching back-to-back rookies of the year. This was the second season for Kissi as the Badger head coach, but he is too humble to take any credit for Elgadi and Simpson’s awards.
“It’s good for our university and our program. Better for the players, they worked hard to earn it.”
In his first two OUA games Simpson had the chance to witness what it takes to become the best in the Country. Brock travelled to Ottawa to take on Carleton and Ottawa, two programs that have been on top for a few years. Simpson scored a team high 18-points against Carleton and added 20 against Ottawa, proving to be a lethal scoring weapon.
“This year he came out guns blazing. He (proved) he can score the ball,” said Kissi. In 21-games, (20 of which were starts) Simpson averaged a team high 33-minutes and 19.8-points. Both Simpson and Kissi mentioned efficiency as an area for improvement as Simpson shot 40 per cent from the field and 35 per cent from the three-point line over the course of the season. Simpson still plans to get better in all aspects of his game.
“Coach told me I had no choice but to be a good defender,” said Simpson. He plans to grow as a defender and focus on taking less shots during his off-season workouts.
Elgadi and Simpson are a good start to building a contender as the program continues to grow. There’s no guarantee of having a third consecutive Rookie of the Year, but Kissi wouldn’t mind one more.
“I think we have a lot of good guys on the recruiting list,” said Kissi. The Badgers coach listed three issues he hopes to solve in the recruiting process this summer: adding shooters who can make open shots; the need for size in order to rebound better; Brock ranked as one of the worst defensive field goal teams in the CIS, so Kissi hopes to find a solution there.
“We have a very good, young core which can do a lot of damage if we put in the work,” said Simpson. The ultimate goal for him, Kissi and Elgadi is winning a National Championship.
Over on the women’s side, Melissa Tatti was named to the OUA All-Rookie Team. In 15 starts, Tatti led the team in minutes at 30.5 per game. She also led the way in scoring with 12.9 per game. The women were a three-point shooting force as Tatti led the way with 37-made three pointers on route to a clinching the playoffs.
The next step is for both teams to improve over the summer and hopefully be a part of the OUA playoffs together, one year from now.