Alberton resident commits to the UPEI Panthers for 2014-15
Kenan Wilkie fell in love with basketball from his first days on the hardwood in middle school.
"It's my passion," said the 17-year-old Alberton resident. "It's my favourite thing in the world. I knew right away that I wanted to play university basketball."
He will get that opportunity this fall when he begins his career with the UPEI Panthers. Coach Tim Kendrick announced earlier this week he had committed for the 2014-15 season.
Wilkie said playing for a great coach like Kendrick and being close to home were important, but the biggest factor was the calibre of the Panthers' lineup.
"They have a great basketball program at UPEI and they're striving for a national championship. I definitely think they're capable of doing it and I want to be part of that team," Wilkie said.
He plays the two or three guard and is known for slashing to the basket. He has worked the past few summers on improving his jumper and outside shot, but knows that has to continue to be successful at the next level.
"It's not going to be there for me to drive to the hoop all the time," he said.
Kendrick is excited to have Wilkie on board.
"He is lightning fast," he said. "He's quick athletically, has good ups and can shoot the ball."
Kendrick has watched Wilkie play at national competitions, including the 2013 Canada Games in Sherbrooke, Que.
Wilkie said he likes the up-tempo, pressure system the Panthers often use.
"I think it's a great fit," he said. "I love to run and gun."
Kendrick said Wilkie will get to learn from good guards like Ellis Ffrench, Deontay (D.J.) Smith, Lorenzo Parker and Jayden Skinner-Nordin.
"It's a great situation for him," the coach said. "He's going to be able to come in and learn the game playing against some real good players and playing with some real good players."
Wilkie knows some of the Panthers from the spring league last year and is looking forward to joining the squad.
Westisle has a competitive basketball program, but is not traditionally the school's top sport. Wilkie said his inclusion on a strong Atlantic University Sport (AUS) team is proof hard work pays off.
"If you put your mind to it, you can do anything," he said.
Wilkie said he wakes up early and went to school with his father, who is a custodian at Westisle, before classes started in the morning. He would spend that time honing his skills.
At a glance
Age - 17.
Hometown - Alberton.
Sport - Basketball. He also plays soccer, badminton and track and field.
School - Westisle Composite High School.
The latest - Joining UPEI Panthers for the 2014-15 season.
Quote - "I am blessed to have the opportunity to be able to represent my home province at UPEI."