by Adam McDougall | St. Thomas Univeristy Journalism
The 2019-2020 edition of the Rothesay Netherwood School Prep Boys' Basketball program has seen a lot of on-court success throughout this season. On March 27, 2020 that on-court success was recognized off the court during the National Preparatory Association’s annual national awards ceremony, which was held virtually via social media in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Grade 12 student, Kellen Tynes emphasized his fantastic senior year by earning league MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, as well as being named a First Team All-Star. The Dartmouth, NS native has been a standout player for RNS all season long. His offensive ability is undeniable, but it is truly his defensive intensity and effort which separates him from the crowd.
“I realize that there are a lot of people who can score offensively, but I’m also a good on-ball defender.” Said Tynes earlier this season. “I get a lot of steals just from jumping in the right lanes. It’s the fact that I take pride in my defense that really separates me from others.”
Per game, Tynes averaged 22 points and 7.2 rebounds, while also rounding out his remarkable stat line with 6.1 assists per game. The MVP placed top 5 in the NPA in both points per game and assists per game. He also led the league in steals per game while co-captaining his team to a staggering 12-0 record. And for a second year in a row, Tynes was also named to the BioSteel All Canadian Games. Set to graduate in June, Tynes has received numerous offers from US schools including Central Connecticut State University, Southern Illinois University, the University of Maine, and Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.
Another RNS guard who was recognized for an outstanding season is Grade 11 student, Samuel Alamutu. Hailing from Ajax, ON, Alamutu was named a First Team All-Star after averaging 18 points per game on 48.6% shooting from the field. Alamutu finished second in the NPA’s rebounding race after gobbling up 11.6 rebounds per game. Although his game is statistically impressive, the off-court humility of Alamutu, as well as his hunger for improvement is really striking. He attributes a lot of his success to his family, an example of his humble nature:
“My biggest supporters throughout my basketball career have – first and foremost – been my family. My mom and my dad never told me my dreams were too big; they always encouraged me to follow what I wanted to do as long as I put God and school first.”
Of course, a team as successful as RNS, which has gone undefeated this season, needs more than just statistical success. Leadership is essential for any elite team, and Jack Fifield alongside Caleb Sooley, were the leaders that RNS needed. The Grade 12 co-captains were recipients of the inaugural Andrew Milner Leadership Award, named in memory of their former teammate who passed away nearly a year ago in a tragic canoeing accident. The Andrew Milner Leadership Award recognizes the intangible assets held and utilized by leaders on a daily basis.
Fifield and Sooley have slightly different – but equally as effective – leadership styles.
“I try to do whatever I can to help the team” said Fifield, who is considering offers from the University of Waterloo, Olds College, and Crandall University. “Whether that’s getting rebounds, taking charges on defense, or just being loud and getting the other guys involved and excited to play.”
Sooley, who has committed to play basketball next year at Dalhousie University, sees himself as more of a quiet leader. “That isn’t to say that I don’t talk” explained Sooley in February. “I talk to the boys before games – but I’m better at taking boys aside and having actual one-one-one conversations where I make guys comfortable. I like to make sure that all of my teammates know that they can come to me and talk if they are having problems, or if they feel like something is off with themselves or the team.”
RNS Coach Damian Gay was also named Coach of the Year after leading his squad to an undefeated 12-0 season in league play. Throughout the season, many players have spoken about the impact Gay has had as a coach, as well as his ability as a motivator.
“I knew what kind of coach that Coach Gay was, and I knew he was going to push me to be the best player that I could be” says Kellen Tynes.
Samuel Alamutu also has also expressed his appreciation for the Coach of the Year, saying: “[Coach Gay] has been with me for a little over a year and a half now, and has been so much of a support for me. He has made me a better person and a better player.”
2019-2020 has not only been a fantastic season for the individuals recognized by the NPA, but a remarkable time for the RNS basketball program as a whole. The program looks to continue its success in the 2020-2021 season.