Meet the newest men's basketball players
TORONTO – The Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team will have plenty of new faces in its lineup when the 2017-18 season begins. The two-time defending OUA champions have high expectations but the seven recruits joining the squad will fit right into the caliber of play.
Meet the newest Rams:
Forward – 7-2 – Dakar, Senegal
Highlighting this year’s recruit class is Tanor Ngom, a 7’2” centre from Senegal who is viewed as a potential future NBA player.
“He’s an absolutely unique player, the type I’ve never really had the opportunity to coach for a season at any level,” said Rams head coach, Roy Rana. “He’s 7’2”, very long, can shoot it and is athletic. He’s a legitimate pro prospect at the highest level. It’s going to take some figuring out from all of us but there’s no question that he’s going to have an impact on our team and on our league.”
It’s a unique story that brought Ngom from Dakar, Senegal to the Rams.
Last May, Rana and five Rams players traveled to Senegal to take part in the Sports for Education and Economic Development (SEED) project as the team’s community involvement initiative. It was there that Rana first saw Ngom and the recruiting process began.
“We’ve always dreamed about having an international player as part of our program but we’ve never really found a way to make it happen.
“We met him when we were there (in Senegal) and some of our relationships in African basketball became really supportive of the idea of him coming here. I had the chance to speak to his father in Dakar; we sat down and had a meal and it just started to roll from there,” explained Rana.
A player with plenty of options whether professionally, at schools in the United States, or academies around the world, Ngom warmed to the idea of playing in Canada and earning his degree.
The dream of landing an international player is now a reality for the Rams.
Guard – 5-11 – Cambridge, Ont.
A product of Cambridge, Ont., Seyed was one of the latest additions to the Rams team but will be an important piece moving forward. With the departure of parts of Ryerson’s backcourt from a season ago, coach Rana felt he needed to add depth to the point guard position and found a player who has the ability to score in bunches when he gets hot.
A graduate of St. Benedict C.S.S., Seyed is most known in the basketball community as the player who set an OFSAA record this past season.
“This is a young kid who broke an Ontario record scoring 52 points in a gold medal game at OFSAA last year and has been tough as nails,” commented Rana. “He can really play; in most places around our province he’d be a guy that gets major minutes right away but obviously on a team with this much depth it’s going to be a challenge for him. He’s got the right attitude and he’s pretty tough and talented and I think he’s got a tremendous future here.”
Forward – 6-8 – Toronto, Ont.
A familiar face to Rams fans, O’Leary-Orange was around the team last season but was transitioning to full-time studies and was unable to play. This season the blue and gold faithful will get to see O’Leary-Orange suit up and showcase his athleticism.
“He basically toughed through a year last year to get himself ready academically and I think he grew as a young man and as a basketball player,” said Rana. “He’s an absolute tremendous athlete; his numbers, especially explosiveness, is amongst the highest I’ve ever seen.
“He’s going to be really good; he’s a Toronto kid from a Toronto family, it’s a really nice story for us to be able to start his growth and journey with our team. He’s going to have an impact.”
Guard – 6-6 – Kingston, Ont.
A transfer from York University, Culbreath will be in his fourth year of eligibility when he starts with the Rams this season and will bring some experience to the group of new faces.
“He had a very solid three years at York and was arguably their best player,” said Rana. “We’re looking forward to having his experience and toughness. It’s going to be an adjustment for him being on a team this deep but he’s certainly brought a level of energy and toughness and physicality that’s going to be really important.”
Culbreath was a member of the OUA All-Rookie Team back in 2013-14.
Forward – 6-7 – Toronto, Ont.
Seen as a building block piece to the Rams program, Nikola Urosevic is a big addition at the forward position. Standing at 6’7”, Urosevic has the ability to play multiple positions and will become a staple in the lineup.
“He’s a tremendous, high character kid,” noted Rana. “He suffered an ACL injury mid-year last year and had many choices to go to in U SPORTS and chose us. Now he’s just trying to get back to where he can get going at 100%.
“He’s going to be a big piece to our program for multiple years – he can play multiple positions and is very athletic and long and is a great student.”
Guard – 6-5 – Scarborough, Ont.
Another player with OUA experience, Frederick will join the Rams from York University but will be unable to play until the 2018-19 season due to transfer eligibility rules.
“Jayden is a tremendous athlete and talented wing player who should have a major impact on our program,” said Rana. “Already one of the more exciting wing players in the OUA, we look forward to helping him take his game to new heights as a Ram.”
Frederick played in all 19 games last season for the Lions and led the team with 15.1 points per game.
Forward – 6-8 – Toronto, Ont.
Fakomi is another player joining the Rams this season that will be doing so from the sidelines as he sits out a year for transfer eligibility. Fakomi comes to the Rams after a season at Lee College in Texas in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
“A redshirt this season, Kayode is a tremendous addition to our program,” said coach Rana. “A 6’8” power forward, he has outstanding athleticism and talent. We look forward to continuing aiding in his development and getting him ready for the 2018 season.”
Fakomi saw limited minutes in his first year at Lee College and previously played in Las Vegas at the Trinity International preparatory high school.
Guard – 6-8 – Hamilton, Ont.
Not regarded as a recruit but rather a critical player returning to the Rams is Jean-Victor Mukama. Now in his fourth season, ‘JV’ was forced to miss last year and is anxiously awaiting his return to the hardwood.
“He’s a great story of resilience and is something we have to celebrate,” said Rana. “He had a tough year academically and had to sit out. He very easily could have given up but just fought back and had a very good year in the classroom.
“We’re just excited to have him back; he changes us. He’s a difference maker, for sure.”
The Rams played two early August preseason games against NCAA competition and return to the court on October 7 for their first U SPORTS contest as they host the Saskatchewan Huskies. Regular season OUA action tips off on October 27 with the Rams on the road to take on the Algoma Thunderbirds.