#CISFinal8: Thomas Cooper, and the roll call of 'Canada Southwest'

VANCOUVER — Thomas Cooper averred he is coming back to the Calgary Dinos, and there probably will be a few more Americans following his lead to 'Canada Southwest.'

The runner-up Dinos' starting five in Sunday's CIS final against Carleton was a perfect reflection of the trend that as more Canadians go south to play, more players from outside Canada are coming north. Along with Cooper, a Chattanooga, Tenn., small forward who counted 76 points in three Final 8 games to earn an all-star nod, the Dinos ran with Australian fifth-year guard Josh Owen-Thomas and German forward Lars Schlueter.

All 17 Canada West men's teams included at least one non-Canadian this season. The trend is apparent in the women's game, too, where the Saskatchewan Huskies won the national title with Sabine Dukate, a Latvian, as a starting guard.

 Cooper, who previously played at Nebraska-Kearney, felt renewed playing in Canada, with the shorter 24-second clock.

"It's definitely fun, because you have to be in better shape, make quicker decisions, better plays," Cooper said. "All of those things, I'll definitely be back and I'll want another shot at it."

The move is somewhat a scaled version of what's happened in the NBA and NCAA.

"You can fight it or embrace it, and we've chosen to embrace it," Thompson Rivers coach Scott Clark told Krown Countdown U in January (19:00 mark).

It's also a necessity, since growth of post-secondary education in the two westernmost provinces has surpassed the pool of basketball talent. For instance, UBC and UVic long had British Columbia to themselves at the university level, but five Interior schools now play. Thompson Rivers, Trinity Western and Fraser Valley have all been tournament teams. Likewise, Alberta has gone from three to five since MacEwan and Mount Royal moved over from the college league.

"If we keep expanding and bringing other teams in, it narrows the recruiting base," Dinos coach Dan Vanhooren said. "Our populations aren't the same as Ontario or even Quebec."

With an extra season to play and only 24 seconds to take a shot, there's benefits to playing in Canada. The top competition is Division 1-calibre.

"It's been demonstrated many times, whether we play in the U.S. or they come up here, that our top 8-10 teams can compete with the NCAA teams," Vanhooren said.

Of course, a Division 1 team has a huge recruiting budget. Vanhooren was able to initiate contact with Cooper and Schlueter through former Dinos now working in the U.S. and Germany.

Ultimately, good to know how Canada West is trying to catch up. For anyone outside Canada West wondering, Calgary is the new normal. It's like Americans, Australians and Europeans are respecting the brand of b-ball here more than a lot of Canadians.

Alberta Golden BearsColey JacksonLas Vegas, NV
Brandon BobcatsDJ JordanWichita Falls, TX
Earl Thompson Jr.Henderson, NV
John PaulBexon, St. Lucia
UBC ThunderbirdsA.J. HollowayTacoma, WA
Phil JalalpoorShifferstadt, Germany
Dominic GilbertSydney, Australia
UBC-O HeatBrian AdembaNairobi, Kenya
Calgary DinosThomas CooperChattanooga, TN
Josh Owen-ThomasAdelaide, Australia
Lars SchlueterUlm, Germany
Fraser Valley CascadesNate BrownFresno, CA
Mark JohnsonPalm Springs, CA
Lethbridge PronghornsDejon BurdeauxOakland, CA
Carl HoffmanRancho Palos Verdes, CA
Brandon BrineAdelaide, Australia
MacEwan GriffinsThadius GalvezOgden, UT
Manitoba BisonsIlarion Bonhomme IIWashington, DC
Mount Royal CougarsGlen Yang*Hong Kong, China
UNBC TimberwolvesAustin ChandlerWenatchee, WA
Rhys ElliottAdelaide, Australia
Vaggelis LoukasAthens, Greece
Regina CougarsAlex IgualBarcelona, Spain
Rawane NdiayeNew York, NY
Zach MihaliczParker, CO
Saskatchewan HuskiesShawn LathanSan Diego, CA
TRU WolfPackMauricio MedranoLos Altos, CA
Gerald GoreSt. John's, Antigua
Volodymyr IegorovDonetsk, Ukraine
TWU SpartansKelvin SmithLos Angeles, CA
Pogos TrunyanSacramento, CA
Sebastien EliasenDenmark
Victoria VikesKai GreenSeattle, WA
Grant SittonBrush Prairie, WA
Winnipeg WesmenRyan OirbansMelbourne, Australia

California, not surprisingly given its population, had eight players in the league, followed by Australians and four from Washington state. I nine counties and seven U.S. states plus the District of Columbia. Mount Royal's Glen Yang did move to Canada while still in high school.

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