Kelowna Owls’ standouts Mason Bourcier and Grant Shephard will join the UBC Thunderbirds for the 2017-18 Canada West basketball season. - Image credit: UBC Thunderbirds

Kelowna duo bolsters UBC men’s basketball

Thunderbirds program signs ex-Owls stars Mason Bourcier and Grant Shephard

When the 2017-18 Canada West men’s basketball season tips off this fall, the UBC Thundebirds will have an unmistakable Kelowna flavour.

With KSS grad Parker Simson already wearing blue and gold, the T-Birds have since added two more key pieces from the Owls’ B.C. 4A boys championship team of 2016.

After signing 6-foot-10 forward Grant Shephard on the Easter long weekend, the UBC men’s program this week happily announced the commitment of blue chip point guard Mason Bourcier.

One of the most highly-touted high school players in Western Canada, the 6-foot-4 Bourcier is thrilled to be launching his post-secondary basketball career at UBC.

“It’s great fit for me, I couldn’t want anything more,” said Bourcier. “There’s a real family aspect here, it’s a great team and with a lot good players. I know some of the guys here and there’s a winning mentality.

“I’m looking forward to being part this program and winning a championship, that’s what I came here to do.”

Bourcier closed out his high school career with KSS in style, scoring 29 points—including seven three-pointers—and earning MVP honours in the B.C. 4A championship game.

Not surprisingly, Bourcier generated plenty of interest for his services on both sides of the border, including from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix and Ottawa’s Carleton University Ravens.

In addition to the quality of Thunderbirds program and playing in his home province, Bourcier said playing with a couple of his ex-Owls teammates will be a considerable bonus.

“Those guys coming here was a big factor for me, Grant, he’s like a brother to me and a great player,” said Bourcier, who plans to pursue a business degree at UBC. “Parker (Simson) was a huge role model for me when I came into the Owls and it’s nice to be back with both of them again.”

UBC head coach Kevin Hanson said getting Bourcier on board is a significant step forward for the T-Birds program.

“We’re thrilled to see Mason join our program, he has so many great characteristics, both as a basketball player and as a person,” Hanson said. “He told me he wants to win championships and that’s exactly what you love to hear from a recruit.

“He’s driven and he makes players around him better,” added Hanson. “We’re excited to see what he can do for our program for years to come.”

Shephard, whose last season with the Owls was 2015-16, played this past season at Montverde Academy in Florida.

Just as Bourcier had done a year later, Shephard was named the MVP of the 2016 B.C. 4A boys championship game.

After weighing his options for the coming season, Shephard said all signs pointed to UBC.

“The amount of positive elements and attributes I recognized during my visit to UBC’s campus, such as the proximity of the university to my family and friends, as well as the basketball opportunities that the university has to offer made it the perfect fit for me,” Shephard said.

Like Bourcier, coach Hanson said landing Shephard adds heft to the T-Birds’ roster.

“Getting a player as high profile and as highly skilled as Grant is truly a remarkable day for our program,” said Hanson. “Despite Grant having several offers from NCAA Division 1 schools, he decided playing and studying at UBC was the right fit for him.”