Airdronian Ryan Zachary, 19, made an immediate impact on his U SPORTS team as he stepped into a starting role on the outside with the Grant MacEwan Griffins.
“I was blessed with the amount of time I was able to see the court and I really made the most of each opportunity I had to touch the court,” Zachary said. “I was out there playing the game and just wanted to stay on the court.”
Coming into his rookie campaign, Zachary only had a small amount of experience with Griffins head coach Brad Poplawski, but was able to showcase his skills and prove he deserved to be a starter during the preseason.
The Airdronian started all but one of the Griffins’ matches this season, stepping into a key contributing role on the team despite being one of the youngest guys on the roster.
Zachary emerged as a scoring threat, sitting near the top of most stats on the team – including leading the team in kills (207), total attempts (614) and total points (243.5).
For his effort as a rookie, Zachary was named as one of the seven players on the Canada West All-Rookie team, Feb. 27, recognizing his accomplishments and importance to the Griffins in his first season.
“I’m honoured…it’s an incredible experience to be in this league and play as much as I did,” Zachary said. “I wanted to be a part of that All-Rookie team and that goal was accomplished.
“It gives me that feeling that I did something right this season and was recognized for it.”
With the Griffins boasting such a young roster, the team is expected to grow into one of the more competitive teams in future seasons.
Zachary will be a part of the strong Griffins team, and he said he is excited for what the team will accomplish.
“I believe, with over half of our team being in our first or second year, in a couple of years we can be pushing for something really big here,” he said. “That’s the whole goal of being in the U SPORTS.”
Despite an unsuccessful 2017-18 campaign with a team record of 3-21, Zachary said the experience will pay off as the newest team in the Canada West builds an identity.
The Griffins wrapped up its season Feb. 17 with an impressive 3-1 victory over the nationally-ranked University of Winnipeg Wesmen.
“That was a very nice win to have on the home court, especially to end the season,” Zachary said. “It wasn’t the most successful season anyone could ask for, however, it was a good growing season.”