Rocky View alumni in rookie seasons with Dinos
They’re playing with the big boys now.
As alumni of the two powerhouse basketball teams in the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA), Jasdeep Gill and Cooper Hamaliuk aren’t strangers to playing elite, high-level basketball, but both have made an even higher jump as members of the Calgary Dinos men’s basketball team in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).
For Gill, a former Chestermere Laker, the Dinos was just one among a long list of teams that he was interested in playing for. The list included the University of Alberta and the University of British Columbia in the west and Ryerson and University of Toronto in the east. Ultimately, Calgary was the one he chose.
“There were quite a few (schools) and it was a hard decision to pick one, but Calgary was a good combination of academics and athletics,” Gill said. “And academics was a big part of it and it’s worked out good.”
The guard has become one of the highly touted rookies on the team and is averaging 19.5 minutes a game. It was something he was hoping for, but not necessarily expecting when he joined the team at the beginning of the season.
“I didn’t have any expectations (number-wise),” he said. “I was just hoping to compete for a good spot and a good role on the team and see where I fell.”
For Gill, jumping up to play in Canada’s top collegiate league was a gradual process. He practiced with the team last season and spent a couple sessions with it over the summer.
For Hamaliuk, the jump was steep, but he’s landed farther than he thought he would as a rookie. The former Cochrane Cobra was expecting to spend the season as a red shirt, a member of the Dino’s practise squad, but he surpassed his own expectations and earned a spot on the starting roster.
“That was huge,” Hamaliuk, a point guard, said. “I didn’t expect that to happen. A lot of things had to go on for me to get that opportunity, but it’s been a lot of fun and I’ve got to play a decent amount of minutes, more than I expected.”
Size was the biggest adjustment Hamaliuk had to make when he debuted with the Dinos in November.
At 5’10,” he’s one of two players under six feet tall on the team and after being a star player with the Cobras for the past few years, he was back at the bottom of the totem pole.
“At one of our first practices at the beginning of the year, one of the better players blocked my shot,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting that to happen and that was my wake-up call that it wasn’t going to be easy for me.
“But I get to learn from all the veterans and they’ve been giving me a ton of advice on what I should be doing and all of it’s going to help me get better and better.”
The Dinos have six games left on the regular season schedule and are making a push for the playoffs. Calgary is currently sitting in sixth in the CIS’ Canada West Prairie Division.
“We have a pretty young team and we were underestimated (going into the season),” Gill said.
“We’ve been working pretty hard and we’ve got to continue winning. Making the playoffs would be huge for us.”