Canmorites earn provincial spot
For the first time in 18 years, two Bow Valley basketball players have been selected to represent Alberta.
Luke Praught and Jaiden Mitchell were named to the provincial U16 and U17 basketball teams respectively following tryouts in Edmonton and Calgary, and will play against teams from Western Canada over the summer.
Praught, a point guard, led the Canmore JV Boys to a zone title this year and has been playing with a club team in Calgary. Mitchell, a six-foot-seven centre played for the CCHS senior boys last season and was spotted by the Alberta team coach.
“It’s pretty exciting. There should be a lot of scouts at our games,” Mitchell said, who wants to play basketball at the post-secondary level.
Competing against players from bigger schools and basketball programs, Praught and Mitchell caught the eye of Alberta coaches with strong play, earning spots on the final 12. Each training camp started with 40 players, with the final 12 announced in mid-May.
“Everybody was really good offensively. I tried to work hard and play defence,” Praught said. “These were the best players from all the club teams.”
“I’m mostly a shooter. I’d like to get more physical and improve my drive to the basket.”
Mitchell was hard to miss at camp, being one of the three tallest players on the court. The Alberta coaches want to see him play centre, but may move him to the outside, which suits him well.
“I wanted to show that I’m tall, but I can play like a guard – I can play all over the floor,” Mitchell said.
The coaches told him to work on his shot and ball handling in advance of several tournaments the team has scheduled. Praught will play in the Western Canadian Championships in August, and the Great Canadian Shootout in Edmonton.
Mitchell’s team may travel to Las Vegas for a tournament before the Western Championships.
The duo were the only Bow Valley residents to try out for the team, and both have a lot of basketball in their future.
“I probably only have one day off a week from basketball,” said Mitchell, who travels to Calgary often to play with his team.
He credits local coaches Chad McLenaghan, Mike Langlois and Rob Kwasney for helping him develop into a stronger player. He took the selection as a confidence boost.
“It was good. I am definitely at their level and I hope we can do well at the Western Nationals,” Mitchell said.
Praught said it was special to earn a selection to the team and said he’s ready for a summer full of basketball.
The tryout was a first for both Praught and Mitchell.
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