X-Men basketball team preview

X-Men basketball team preview

After leading the team to the brink of an AUS championship last season, gone are four starters and eight players in total, including former All-Canadian Kevin Bercy and AUS all-star Julius Antoine. Bercy has continued his outstanding career playing professionally in Spain. This year's squad might be the youngest in Coach Steve Konchalski's 44 years at StFX, with seven freshmen and an average age of less than 20 years.

That having been said, there is a solid returning nucleus to lead the way for the young X-Men including the sharpshooting backcourt duo of 6'3" senior Tristen Ross (10 ppg on 39% from beyond the arc) and 6'1" junior Justin Andrew (7 ppg). AUS all-rookie selection Jaydan Smith, a 6'1" guard who shot 35% from three point range last year and  6'2" senior defensive stopper Brandon Velocci add to the experience and depth of the backcourt.

Up front, 6'5" senior Daniel Passley (4.5 ppg/3.6 rpg) and 6'6" junior skywalker Azaro Roker (4.6 ppg/3.5 rpg) will need to step up and fill the void of the departed seniors. Six-five junior Nick McKee could be a key contributor off the bench.

Headlining the large recruiting class is 6'1" floor general Tom Legallais (Cornwall, ON), a fiery competitor who transferred to the X-Men after two outstanding seasons at Mount Allison University (ACAA) where he was voted the league MVP in 2017-18, leading the league in scoring (21.2 ppg) and steals and finishing second in assists.

At the forward position, 6'8" Brampton, ON, native Atik Gilao comes to the Xaverians from the NPA national champion Canada Topflight Academy (Ottawa) where he averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds per game. Six-five forward Jamie White from NB provincial finalist Saint John High and six-six forward Will Bazuk (Barrie, ON) from Hamilton's Lincoln Prep will vie for minutes off the bench.

A trio of athletic wings are also exciting additions to this year's squad. Six-five Dawson Bungay (Alder Point, CB) led C.P. Allen of Bedford to the NS provincial championship game last season while 6"2" defensive standout Gayo Isaya helped lead Fredericton High School to the New Brunswick provincial title. Six-five Michael Utsalo is a versatile G/F with outstanding athletic ability out of Bill Crothers SS in Toronto. Six-one guard Jack Pittman, who led Dr. J.H. Gillis HS (Antigonish, NS) to the Div. II provincial title, will redshirt this year.

Veteran coach Steve Konchalski has put together his usual challenging schedule for the youthful X-Men, including games with perennial national powers Carleton, Ryerson and the defending national champion Calgary Dinos. "This team will be a work in progress", says Coach K, "with a lot of hard work between now and March we hope to be a team that no one wants to play at the ScotiaBank Centre on AUS playoff weekend".

The X-Men host their 40th annual Pizza Delight Invitational on October 5th and 6th at Coach K Court at the StFX Oland Cenrtre. Saint Mary's and Dalhousie will play Friday night at 6:00 pm, followed by the X-Men and Cape Breton at 8:00 pm. The losing teams will meet in Saturday's consolation final at 6:00 pm, followed by the championship game at 8:00 pm.

StFX opens AUS regular season play at home on Friday, November 2nd when the UNB Reds are in town for an 8:00 pm tip-off.