UBC Okanagan Heat head coach Pete Guarasci continues to bolster his frontcourt offense with the commitment of BC Christian Academy’s Dean Johnston. The 6-foot-8, 205-pound stretch four will look to use his length and athleticism to shore up the Heat’s down low with rebounding and defense, helping cement the team’s increasingly renowned defensive culture under Guarasci’s watch.
The Heat have often struggled in getting consistent production on the offensive end despite being a top-tier defensive team. Johnston is another brick in Guarasci’s building project to get more offense into the system, particularly more low-post options.
“Dean’s a versatile forward that can score in the post and facing up to the basket,” explains Guarasci, adding that Dean will bring “good size and athleticism to our program.”
Two ways Dean will help the Heat score easy baskets next year will be on the block or in transition, coach Guarasci likes Dean’s ability to “run the floor well,” and is excited with Johnston’s ability to “finish above the rim.”
The Port Coquitlam native has been a prolific scorer at the Single A level and as a member of Team BC. He posted a posted a personal-high 46 points to go alongside 18 rebounds and 10 assists in a triple-double effort in tournament play last winter. His Panther’s team would just fall short of a chance at gold for the provincial championships but would come away with the bronze this past season.
A multi-sport athlete growing up, Johnston chose to stick with basketball full-time come his grade 10 year and has not looked back. Putting in extra effort in the gym has helped him work on his strength and body control, two areas of improvement he hopes will translate into success at the CIS level.
“With the right work ethic he will develop into an exceptional CIS basketball player,” envisions coach Guarasci embarking on his third season as bench boss with the Heat.
And it appears that Johnston may have the work ethic to develop into such a player already learning nuances of the game that generally don’t come until later in a players development.
“I recently discovered how to use my body a bit better which gives me an advantage in certain areas,” Johnston said of his ongoing efforts to improve his game. “I also adjust fairly quickly [to the situation at hand] which also helps.”
He cited his exposure to club league ball with AthElite basketball as a major contributing factor in his choice to pursue playing post-secondary ball, saying that it “opened his eyes” to the possibility of taking the sport to that next level.
Johnston will be enrolling into a Bachelor of Arts program in Anthropology come the fall. He is excited to traverse the new challenges on court for a CIS-caliber squad and in the classroom of a globally ranked institution.
“I feel like I am ready, but I have plenty to learn,” the humble Johnston admitted.