NCAA step next up for Drew Urquhart
At just 18, Drew Urquhart already has a place in Canadian basketball history.
Now, the Kelowna product is hoping to carve out a long and prosperous career at the NCAA Div. 1 level.
Urquhart will suit up this coming season for the University of Vermont Catamounts basketball program in Burlington, VT.
The 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward, who had already taken up residence this summer in the U.S., is understandably excited about the next step of his hardwood career.
"It's always been my dream to play Div. 1 and now I'm going to get a chance to do that," said Urquhart, who will be enrolled in the business program at UV. "It's a good program, I expect good coaching and I'll be learning a lot.
"It's also a smaller college town that sort of reminds of Kelowna. I'm looking forward to getting started."
Urquhart lived in Kelowna until he was 15, before moving with his family to Vancouver for Grade 10.
He spent two seasons at St. George's School where he was named a provincial high school all-star in 2013, then played his senior year this spring at Eastside Catholic in Seattle.
This summer, Urquhart earned a personal piece of basketball history as a member of Canada's entry at the FIBA world U19 championship in Colorado Springs, CO.
For the first time ever, a Canadian team reached the final of the world juniors before losing to the United States.
Urquhart played a key role in his country's silver-medal performance, averaging five points in 13 minutes of play.
"We gelled really quick," said Urqhart, who was named to the national team following a camp this spring in Toronto. "It was a great experience playing with the best players in Canada. We made it to the gold medal game, the best Canada has ever done. People are going to remember that team. It's a big honour."
Urquhart's tour of duty with the national team simply confirmed what the University of Vermont staff already knew about their young prospect.
Head coach John Becker is looking forward to watching Urquhart develop with the Catamounts program, which will feature a talented corps of freshman players.
"Drew is real skilled offensively, he moves along the perimeter well and can do a lot of different things with the ball," said Becker. "He added about 25 pounds so he'll be better able to cope with the physical aspects of the college game.
"He'll have to get used to the speed of the college game, and we'll see how he figures in with us defensively. He really has the tools he needs and there are going to be lots of opportunities to learn and show us what he can do."
While he is focused firmly on his impending basketball career and education, Urquhart also has some long-term ambitions.
"My overall goal is to one day play basketball for a living, that's my dream," he said. "I still have four years to develop, so I'll try to make the most of it."
Urquhart and the UV Catamounts will get their first taste of action Aug. 9 to 13 during a series of exhibition games in Montreal.
And among Urqhuart's opponents this season will be fellow Kelowna player and friend Alex Hart, who will be attending the University of California Santa Barbara.
"He's one of my best friends," Urquhart said of Hart. "It'll be fun to see him on the other side."