If/when OUA (Ontario University Athletics) women's basketball resumes in the fall, coach Jason Hurley and the Laurentian Voyageurs will be more than ready to hit the ground running.
With local product Aneisha Rismond already committed to joining the team for the 2021-2022 season, Hurley confirmed three remaining additions earlier this week.
Mali Straker (Yellowknife, NWT), Amber May (Calgary, AB) and Jasmine Lewis (Aurora, ON) will all make their way to Sudbury in September, with each bringing something a little different to the table.
A 5'8" guard, Straker spent the past couple of years playing high-school basketball in Calgary, mixing in an appearance at the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games as captain of the Northwest Territories team.
And where much of the high-school basketball scene from coast to coast fell victim to the pandemic this year, Straker bucked the trend, suiting up an in area that enjoys more natural physical distancing than anywhere else in the country.
"I was fortunate enough to be able to continue practicing with my team in Yellowknife, because we had little to no COVID cases here," said Straker. "I was able to go to the gym and when I am not feeling active enough, I will do some outdoor activities such as snowshoeing or skating."
"Mali is a strong, athletic guard with a playmaker's mentality," said Hurley. "She is fairly crafty and can play the one or the two. Her commitment to play at the U Sports level cannot be questioned."
A forward with the Aurora High-School Golden Eagles team which fell in the York Region AAA final last year, Jasmine Lewis presents a much different profile.
"Jasmine is six feet tall with an above average wingspan," said Hurley. "And she is very committed on the defensive side of the ball."
WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) is the key for this incoming freshman. "I think that my biggest impact on the court will be on defense and rebounding," said Lewis. "I try and use my size as an advantage when it comes to rebounding or doing anything inside the key."
The eighth of eleven children in the family, Amber May is a soon-to-be graduate of Father Lacombe High-School and product of the CDYC Panthers club basketball system.
"There were a lot of factors that set Laurentian above the rest of the schools I was looking into," she said. "The location was beautiful and could allow me to really explore myself and grown into who I want to be."
"The school itself offers on the best Forensic Science degrees in the country. I was taken by the way the coaches value the players in not just a basketball way, but in a way to where they will be successful later on in life."
"Amber impressed so much in the zoom calls that we knew she would be a great fit in our community," said Hurley.