Cam Servatius is a little bit nervous and a whole lot excited about the next step in his basketball career.
Nervous because he’s making the leap from high school to university hoops — a bigger and faster game where everyone is a former high school standout.
Excited because a CIS team has deemed him worthy to make that jump.
The University of British Columbia-Okanagan Heat are giving the Sardis Falcons star his big break, and he’s determined to prove that’s no mistake.
“It happened after provincials where I went to an ID camp up there,” Servatius said. “There were about 65 kids there, ranging in age from 17 to 25 years old.”
Servatius impressed UBC-O basketball bench boss Pete Guarasci and his coaching staff.
He flashed his lockdown defender skills, threw down one slam dunk and worked his butt off.
After the tryout ended, four players were offered roster spots.
“They liked my versatility, and said I had a chance to develop into a really good player,” Servatius recalled. “I was really excited coming home, knowing I’ve got a place to play and knowing what I might be able to accomplish.”
Servatius always had in mind to try and use basketball as a springboard to higher education, but he always kept his expectations in check.
He had a call from Douglas College during the season, but never heard back, and at one point figured it might not happen.
“I didn’t have the greatest provincials, but I did have one really good game against Holy Cross that I thought might help me out,” he said. “But the UBC-O coach wasn’t there for that one. He saw the first game of the tournament, where I scored zero points.”
The good game was a final-four semi-final against the Crusaders. Servatius and his Falcons fell to Holy Cross, but he was all over the floor.
“In the beginning of Grade 11 he was coming off the bench for the few couple games, but you knew he had potential,” said his head coach at Sardis, Kyle Graves. “He was tall and lanky with great athleticism, but I didn’t know what kind of basketball player he was going to be.”
Servatius eventually won Graves over with his defence and intensity. Once the whistle blew, the coach was confident he’d get everything Servatius had.
“Out of everyone on our team, he’s been the most intense and scrappy — throwing an elbow or picking up a technical (foul) for shoving a guy,” Graves said. “That’s something I’ve always liked, and I’ve really pushed him hard the last two years.”
With Graves prodding him, Servatius emerged as the third Sardis star, teaming with Eric Rogers and Hayden Lejeune to form a daunting trio.
“I’ve gotten a lot smarter with the ball, making better decisions,” Servatius said, when asked how he’s evolved. “Knowing when to shoot, when to make that extra pass. Learning how to dribble, because I really sucked at it in Grade 10.”
Servatius may have been even better, but for one flaw he openly admits to.
“I could have done a lot more in senior in terms of training, which I kind of regret,” he said. “Guarding one of the 25-year-olds at the camp, he was way bigger and stronger than me. I definitely have to work up to that, because it’s going to be way different than it was in high school.”
Graves, always one of the biggest players wherever he went, believes Servatius has matured and is ready for the challenge.
“I’ve talked to him enough and his dad played university sports — he knows he’s got a lot of untapped potential, but I don’t think we’ve seen him at 100 per cent yet,” Graves said.
“Once we do, who knows where his limit is.
“Last week we had a Sardis basketball program meeting where he was talking to the Grade 10s and 11s about how much work they have to do,” Graves continued. “That was really neat to see and something I’d never have expected to hear from him in the earlier years.”
Servatius is the second of the big three to secure a CIS spot.
Lejeune committed to the University of Victoria Vikes a week or two before playoffs started, and there’s now a very good chance the former teammates will clash as opponents.
“I think he’ll do just fine, considering he’s six foot seven and fast,” Servatius laughed. “I hope we kill him in a game though. I don’t want to lose to Hayden.”
Before that can happen, Servatius has to assert himself with the Heat and find a way into the regular rotation.
That, he believes, will be the biggest challenge of all.
“I’m confident but also a little scared in some ways because I want to play a lot, but I’ll be a rookie playing with a lot of guys who want it just as much as me,” he said. “I’ll have to get in the gym as much as I can every day and see what it does for me.”