The UPEI Panthers have added some size and depth to its frontcourt.
Six-foot-eight, 240-pound forward Jon Hovingh will be joining the basketball team after the Christmas break.
"As a young kid I watched every Panthers game my parents would take me to," the Bluefield High School graduate said. "I knew all of the players' names and their stats. To be given the opportunity to play basketball again at this level, and to be able to do it here at UPEI, is a blessing."
Hovingh played two years with the Holland College Hurricanes, where he received his sports and leisure management diploma while being named a Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) academic all-Canadian. He recently completed his training at the Atlantic Police Academy in Summerside and has enrolled at UPEI in the bachelor of arts program, majoring in psychology.
Panthers head coach Tim Kendrick said he spoke with Hovingh a couple of years ago because of his height and skill set. He was a slight at the time, but not any more.
"He's a classic kind of late bloomer," Kendrick said. "He's filled into his body very well and with that comes confidence and a renewed sense that he can play. . . . Now he's a lot more of the full package."
The Panthers found their latest recruit in their own gym.
"He's been dominating the men's league, especially defensively," Kendrick said. "I love the way he gets up and down, runs the court."
Within a handful of days of broaching the subject of joining UPEI with Hovingh, he was enrolled and had agreed to play with the Panthers.
While Kendrick said Hovingh could come in and provide them with minutes right away there will be some time to get up to speed with an Atlantic University Sport team.
The move provides the Panthers with another big-bodied player it can turn to for the next three seasons. A lack of forward depth has hurt the team in recent playoff runs.
There is also some familiarity with Hovingh amongst the Panthers as Jake Kendrick and Kyle Welton played with him with the Hurricanes. The head coach said they were adding a good player, student and teammate.
Hovingh is looking to wearing the green and white.
"The Panthers coaching staff and players have something special going on and I am thrilled to be a part of it," he said.
There might have been a few people around Charlottetown who were not initially thrilled with the announcement.
The Blue Man Group will be without Hovingh's services for the rest of the men's league.
"I've been roasted," Kendrick joked.
The Panthers return to the court on Dec. 28 for practice as they prepare for the Rod and Joan Shoveller Memorial Basketball Tournament at Dalhousie University from Jan. 1 to 3. They play St. F.X. on New Year's Day at 3 p.m.