In the span of 14 days earlier this month, the basketball career of Sukhjot Bains took a huge turn.
After two years playing for the Northwest College Trappers in Powell, Wyoming, the former Tamanawis Wildcat will be moving to Wisconsin to join the Green Bay Phoenix, a Division 1 NCAA team in the Horizon Conference.
“The whole process took two weeks,” said Bains from Powell, where he concluded his season with the Trappers early last month.
As the season was winding down, the six-foot-six forward wasn’t on the radar of the Phoenix but, by chance, quickly drew their attention.
“They were recruiting a player on a team we were playing against, and I had a strong game when one of their scouts was there,” said Bains. “They invited me to their campus, and I went up there on April 5.
“I immediately liked what I saw. I liked the facilities, I liked their coach, I liked the style they play. So I committed on the spot.”
It’s been a three-year journey for Bains to reach Division I hoops after graduating from Tamanawis Secondary. In 2014, he was tournament MVP as the Wildcats won a Fraser Valley championship, scoring 43 points in the championship game.
He was a first-team all-star at the B.C. championships, where Tamanawis placed third.
A year later, he was in Highstown, New Jersey playing in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League for Peddie high school. In the fall of 2015, he made the move to Powell, a small town of 6,300 people where Northwest College is located.
“When I first got here, it was a bit of a culture shock,” said Bains. “There isn’t much to do, which helped me concentrate on basketball a little more.”
On the court, Bains made a smooth transition to junior college basketball. This past season, he average 13.4 points and eight rebounds per game, shooting 45.3 per cent from the field.
“I have really enjoyed my time here,” said Bains. “Over the two years, my coach began to trust me more and more.”
Trappers head coach Brian Erickson said Bains showed steady improvement over his two seasons with the Trappers and won’t have any difficulty adjusting to Division I basketball.
“He’s good enough for Division I,” Erickson told the Cody Enterprise, the local newspaper. “He is a complete player. I think he’s improved a ton. He’s gotten stronger, for sure. He’s gonna be fine”
Bains is confident he can play at the highest level of university basketball in the U.S.A., and is looking forward to starting his junior year at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
“I should be able to step in and make an impact,” he said. “But I know I’ll have to earn my spot on the team. And physically, I will have to get a bit stronger. I know will be a more physical game.
“I won’t be taking anything for granted.”
Bains will be in Green Bay in mid-June for some workouts, where he will meet some future teammates and begin making some new friends.
“I don’t know anyone there,” he said. “I’ll have to meet a whole new group of people.”