TORONTO — In recent years, the Humber Hawks have been knocking on the door of a national title, but haven’t been able to cut down the nets.
Back in 2015-16, the Hawks advanced to the CCAA Final 8 after winning the OCAA Championships. Humber picked up three wins in three days to win their conference title, capped off by a seven-point win over the Mohawk Mountaineers. From there, they continued their winning ways at nationals, advancing to the gold medal game.
Wins over the Camosun College Chargers and Holland Hurricanes sent the Hawks into the national championship game where they would take on the NAIT Ooks for national supremacy. When the dust settled, the Ooks took home the gold medal with a 79-74 win over the Hawks.
Fast forward to the 2017-18 season, and the Hawks were once again knocking on the door at the national tournament. After winning a bronze medal in the OCAA playoffs in 2016-17, Humber came into last season looking to get back to nationals. While Humber would fall in the OCAA finals to the eventual national champions, the Seneca Sting, the Hawks still earned a spot in the 2018 CCAA Basketball Championships by way of their silver medal.
In the quarter-finals, the Hawks found themselves matched up with the 2018 hosts of the event, Nomades de Montmorency. The Hawks dropped their quarter-final contest, sending them to the consolation side of the bracket. Another loss, this time to the SAIT Trojans, sent Humber into the CCAA Placement Game.
Despite two losses, the Hawks ended the tournament on a high note. Humber closed out the tournament with a big 100-79 win over the Lakeland College Rustlers.
Much like the women’s program at Humber, the men’s side put up their fair share of points over the course of the season. In 20 games against OCAA opponents, Humber averaged a whopping 95.9 points per game, going 15-5 over that stretch. The Hawks averaged over 17 offensive rebounds per game over the 20 games, giving themselves their fair share of second-chance opportunities on the offensive end of the floor.
The Hawks’ 100-point performance against Lakeland College was the 11th time that they put up 100+ points in a game over the course of the season.
Humber’s season-high for points was 123, which they put up against the Sault College Cougars back on November 5th.
Third year forward Kenny Ejim had himself an impressive year on both ends of the floor to pace the Hawks. In 18 games, the 6’6” forward from nearby Brampton, ON averaged a team-best 22.1 points per contest. Despite averaging under 27 minutes per night out, Ejim finished fifth in the OCAA in scoring over the course of the season.
When adjusted to a 40-minute average, Ejim averaged over 33 points per contest.
Ejim added 7.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for an all-round impressive season. He shot 42.4% from the floor, and 37.4% from three point range. Ejim has the shooting ability to stretch the floor on offense while also having the size to battle in the paint around the basket and grab rebounds on both ends of the court.
While the Hawks haven’t released their finalized 2018-19 roster yet, there’s the potential for a ton of talent to be back, headlined by Ejim who will be entering his fourth season of eligibility. Add in the potential return of fourth-year forward C.J. Bennett and third-year guard DeQuon Cascart, and the Hawks will have one of the more talented core groups in the OCAA.
Last season, Cascart appeared in 20 conference games as the top reserve for the Hawks. He was one of four Humber players to average double-digit points per game, posting an average of 11.1 points per contest. This season, look for the North York, ON native to be a regular fixture in the starting five as the Hawks look to claw their way back into the national title game.
More often than not, Bennett stuffed the stat sheet last season. Over the 20 conference games, Bennett averaged 15.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2.0 steals per contest. Against the U of T Mississauga Eagles on November 29th, Bennett recorded a triple-double of 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists to guide the Hawks to the 109-53 victory.
Just two games later, the first game for the Hawks after the Christmas break, Bennett put together another triple-double in a blowout win for Humber over the Conestoga Condors. He finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists in t he 102-66 win.
The core group of Ejim, Bennett, and Cascart will carry the Hawks over the course of the season. With no fifth-year players listed on last year’s roster, there’s a good chance that Humber could return the vast majority of their production from last season. If that’s the case when the final roster is released later this month, Humber could very well be the team to beat in the OCAA once the season gets under way.
The 2018-19 season could be special for the Hawks, as both the men’s and women’s programs are in a great position, both in the OCAA and on the national level. Only time will tell how it all plays out.
– T. Bennett