Chilliwack will have two basketball players patrolling the court in Kamloops this fall.
Graduating Sardis star Tyus De Vries will play alongside GW Graham grad Jon Steele for the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack as local talent infiltrates the U-Sports ranks.
“We’ve played club basketball together since we were in Grade 3 or 4 and I was at Graham in Grades 8 and 9, so I know Jon pretty well,” Tyus said. “We’re planning to room together at TRU and it will be nice to know someone where I’m going.”
De Vries, a star with the Falcons for the last three seasons, is proof that you never know who is watching or where your next opportunity will come from. In the who-you-know world of university recruiting, it was an impressive performance vs a Sardis rival that got the teenager on the radar of TRU coach Scott Clark.
“George Bergen is the basketball coach at Walnut Grove (Langley) and he and Scott are good friends,” De Vries explained. “I played against the Gators last year and George passed on my name.
“Scott brought me up for a campus visit, watched me scrimmage with a bunch of guys from his team and I guess he liked what he saw.”
What Clark and everyone else who watches De Vries play sees is a tenacious, hard-working forward with a deft shooting touch.
After he finished with the campus tour and scrimmage, De Vries went out for dinner with a couple TRU veterans and asked them what Clark is like and what he demands.
“They said he pushes the guys really hard and gets the best out of every kid who goes up there, which I like,” he said. “His players seem to love him and have lots of respect for him.
“Two years ago he brought his team to the national tournament and made the final eight, so you can see from his results and what his players say about him that he’s a good coach.”
One of the first challenges De Vries will face when he reports to campus this summer is an endurance test.
Like most coaches, Clark likes to see who’s stayed fit over the offseason, and De Vries has been told that he’ll be expected to run six laps of the 400 metre Hillside Stadium track (one mile) in nine minutes or less.
“That’s been rattling around my head a little bit since as a goal to shoot for,” De Vries said. “That’s a six-minute mile pace and I’ve been able to hit that, but it’s a hard run for sure.”
When De Vries scrimmaged with the Wolfpack he didn’t feel out of place. He’s not an all-star like he is at the high school level (yet), but he felt he belonged.
“I’m five years younger than a some of those guys, but I was in the mix,” he said. “I could defend and I could play some offence against them. Getting faster and stronger would be the two biggest things that I can improve. I’m a really good shooter but I lack a little bit in driving, finishing, creating space with pump-fakes and things like that.
We’ll really see what it’s like when I get up there. I’ll play in some tournaments this summer, hopefully hold my own and go from there.”
De Vries had options, including the Trinity Western Spartans.
“But they wanted me to red-shirt for a year and so did Alberta,” De Vries said. “Going to Briercrest College (a lower level program in Caronport, SK) for a year was a super tempting option because it would have been a lot of fun and I probably would have gotten more playing time right away.
“In the end I wanted to start getting a university education and be in a place for five years instead of transferring out after a year or two.”
Red-shirting wasn’t super tempting, though Alberta did have some sentimental pull.
“Both of my parents went there. My dad (Greg) won two championships there and my mom played basketball there too,” De Vries said. “But Thompson Rivers is closer to home and I believe it is the best place to accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself.
“I am sad to leave home, but I am super excited to move on to the next chapter of my life.”