The University of the Fraser Valley Cascades added a ton of size to their front-court Monday, adding graduating GW Graham Grizzlies Matthias and Zach Klim.
Fresh off a AAA provincial basketball championship win in their final year of high school, the teenagers are taking their talents to Abbotsford.
The Cascades benefit from a package deal that brings two soft-shooting six-foot-10 rebounding machines to the Envision Athletic Centre, and the only challenge will be telling the identical twins apart.
“There was never an option to go anywhere without Matthias,” Zach said. “We’ve been a package deal since we were born in everything we do.”
For most of the last year it was believed the Klims would make the next-level leap in another sport, baseball.
Both are just as imposing on the diamond as they are on the court, and had four options in the southwest/central areas of the United States. But when they looked into the finances of playing baseball in the U-S, even with the help of athletic scholarships, the cost was too steep.
“Just going down there and playing is so expensive,” Matthias said. “It was definitely a super hard decision to say no to baseball, but Zach and I talked it out, and the biggest thing was staying close to home. If we went to the States we wouldn’t be able to visit our family too much and when we finally chose to stay closer to home, UFV was the best choice for us to go, athletically and academically.”
GW Graham’s provincial championship also played a role in the twins’ choice of b-ball over baseball.
Matthias said the excitement of that title, the first in GWG history, solidified in his mind how much he loved basketball and how much that was the sport he wanted to invest in.
From that moment on UFV was always the lead option, though there was contact with the Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops), the University of Alberta (Edmonton) and the University of Calgary.
There was a slight bump on the road to committing to UFV when the Cascades cut loose former coach Adam Friesen, but the subsequent hiring of Joe Enevoldson away from the PACWest powerhouse Douglas College Royals sealed the deal.
“We talked to Friesen at provincials, and then we talked to the athletic director (Steve Tuckwood), who told us to wait as long as we could before committing so we’d know who the new coach is,” Matthias explained. “The minute they said it was Joe Enevoldson – my dad and Joe playing high school basketball together at (Vernon’s) Clarence Fulton secondary school, and as soon as we heard that Joe was the guy we had a Zoom meeting with UFV and verbally committed.
“He is an amazing coach who’s won two championships with Douglas, and I know he’s going to bring that winning mentality to UFV and lead us to a Canada West championship.”
It’s been a long time since a Chilliwack player has held a prominent role with the UFV men, probably going all the way back to the Kyle Graves era (2002-06).
Re-opening that pipeline is significant.
“There are definitely going to be some amazing athletes who are going to come out of Chilliwack and the ones who follow Zach and I to UFV will see what we’ve hopefully done and they’ll continue trying to bring back the local ties to the Cascades. That would be really cool.”
Enevoldson is just a week on the job and he comes through with a major recruiting splash.
“Any time you have an opportunity to add players who are six-foot-10 and who are winners, you have to take the opportunity to do that,” he said. “It’s a solid fit across the board. Obviously with losing Matt Cooley (Cascades graduating centre), you want to build with some size, and what better way to do that than to bring in two six-foot-10 guys as your first recruits?”
Interesting thing about UFV. The Cascades have a baseball team as well, defending champions in the Canadian Colleges Baseball Conference.
So is the door completely closed on a two-sport adventure?
“That question has come up a few times, because the UFV coach (Kyle Lotzkar) is an amazing guy who is super smart baseball wise and my former pitching coach,” Zach said. “That thought has crossed my mind, and I don’t want to completely close the door because of how much I love the sport, but for now I think we’re just going to be focused on basketball.”
That means getting to work on bulking up, adding muscles to their lean frames as they prepare to go to battle against foes who will be several years older.
It sounds curious when Matthias talks about feeling like a Grade 8 going against Grade 12’s again, but that’s what they’re expecting.
“I’m ready to get beat-down, but I’m excited for the challenge,” Zach said. “I’ve always been the type of person where if you hit me down I’m going to come back two times harder. It’s going to be weird for us, but we are excited to get bigger, tougher and stronger help put UFV back on the map in men’s basketball.”