Goodwin to play for hometown Heat
One of B.C. high school basketball's most sought-after players has chosen not to export his talents south of the border.
And no one supports that decision more enthusiastically than UBC Okanagan men's coach Pete Guarasci.
Kelowna Owls' star point guard Mitch Goodwin has committed to the Heat for the 2012-13 Canada West basketball season.
The 6-foot-2 Goodwin had initially planned to attend Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey next season but, after careful consideration, opted for basketball and an education right in his own backyard.
"There were so many good reasons to stay here, the education part of it, being close to home, and playing for Pete (Guarasci) was an important aspect, too," said Goodwin, 18, who learned from Guarasci at the Okanagan regional training centre in 2009. "I know Pete from before and really liked working with him."
And with the quality of Canadian university basketball continually improving, Goodwin says there is no great sacrifice in playing the game in the Great White North.
"(The CIS) is getting better and better all the time, we need to keep developing basketball in Canada," Goodwin said. "Maybe by staying in Canada, I can inspire other guys to do the same and we can keep improving the quality of the game here."
In each of his two seasons with the KSS Owls, the explosive Goodwin often dominated games and, along with post player and teammate Braxston Bunce, made for B.C. high school basketball's most dangerous duo.
Goodwin, who averaged 23 points per game in 2011-12, was named MVP at three major tournaments during the season, the Telus Classic and Legal Beagle. He was a first team all-star at three other tournaments.
Guarasci, the Heat's first-year head coach, is understandably thrilled to be bringing Goodwin aboard.
"Mitch is the type of player and the type or person you want to have on your team," said Guarasci, a former Canadian Olympian and pro player in Europe.
"I'm confident he made a great decision and he's going to help our program going forward. Based on his ability and work ethic, I can see him immediately having some sort of impact."
With the Heat coming off a 3-15 inaugural season in the CIS, Guarasci sees Goodwin as a good fit and an important building block for the future of the men's program.
"We don't have any specific expectations of Mitch, we just want him to come in work hard, allow himself to be coached, and look at getting better every day," Guarasci said. "He has an incredible work ethic and determination and really wants to win.
"There's lots of work to be done with his game and that's what's exciting. As a point guard, he hasn't even scratched the surface of what he can be."
For Goodwin's part, the step up from high school to the university level is a challenge he's looking forward to.
"I think it'll be great for me playing against guys 22 and 23 years old, I won't be one of the big guys anymore, I'll be learning every day, just like I was when I was in Grade 8 or 9 watching the top Grade 12 guys play," said Goodwin. "I know university will be a big step. I'm looking forward to it."
Goodwin is the second local player to sign with the Heat men's basketball team this spring. Immaculata guard Dario Gini committed to UBC Okanagan in April.