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Matt Nelson and Catherine Traer join Garnet and Grey

WHILE MANY ATHLETES were studying for exams, their coaches spent the winter months searching for new team members for the following year—and the basketball program was successful. Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have gathered their first recruits of 2012.

Signing on at centre

Peterborough native Matt Nelson is so far the highlight of the University of Ottawa men’s basketball program’s 2012–13 recruiting efforts, as it was announced that the six-foot-nine centre committed to the team in early December.

“I’m really excited about coming to the University of Ottawa,” said Nelson to Sports Services in late December. “I believe it’s the best fit for me both academically and for basketball. The guys on the team really made me feel welcome, and I’m really looking forward to playing with them. It’s like a family.”

Nelson’s decision is a huge complement to the Gee-Gees program, as the player from Adam Scott Collegiate and Vocational Institute has been recruited by virtually every university in Ontario as well as schools in the United States.

Nelson said that in addition to the welcoming atmosphere of the team, his decision was largely influenced by the immediate connection he felt to the Gees’ head coach, James Derouin. In an email to the Fulcrum, Derouin explained the feelings were mutual.

“I think that the connection between coach and recruit plays a major role in the recruiting process,” he said. “A player and coach are going to be together for five years and spend a lot of time together. Matt and I felt comfortable right from the start, and that grew during the recruiting process.”

Derouin noted that although the future business student will be a great asset to the program in terms of his athleticism, height, and energy in the centre position, he’ll need to continue working hard to be successful at the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) level.

“For him to be ready to play, he needs to get stronger and [get] used to the speed of the CIS game,” said Derouin.

Ottawa baller joins Gees

On the women’s side of things, the team was successful in recruiting six-foot-one small forward Catherine Traer for the 2012–13 season.

“I considered the States for all of the summer pretty much, and I was getting interest from Vermont and Idaho State. I visited Acadia also, [and] then I just decided that the States wasn’t for me,” said Traer in an interview with the Fulcrum. “I thought the CIS level was good enough, so that’s why I decided to stay here.”

Like Nelson, Traer said that one of the main reasons for her commitment to the University of Ottawa was a connection to the head coach, Andy Sparks.

“[The U of O] has been in my life forever since my dad played there,” said Traer. “I went to basketball camp there and I knew the coach before [committing to the Gees] because I played for him in Grade 10 on his Under-19 Ottawa Shock team, and he was really, really good and I loved playing for him.”

Team chemistry shouldn’t be a problem for Traer, as she recently capped off her career as a high-school athlete for the Louis Riel Rebelles in Ottawa, where she played alongside current U of O athletes Kellie Ring and Émilie Vachon. The three played on teams in the Louis Riel provincial championships in 2009 and 2010.

Sparks commented on Traer’s decision to join the U of O in a recent statement to Sports Services.

“Catherine is a shooter with excellent size, ball-handling ability, and court vision,” said Sparks. “I look forward to seeing her develop over the coming years as a Gee-Gee.”

Traer listed strength and speed as areas for improvement before suiting up with the Gees next year, and noted she’s interested in studying law and looking forward to playing at a bilingual school.

—Keeton Wilcock