Been there, done that: veterans take the lead on men’s basketball team

Guard Ajahmo Clarke has a shot at the OCAA all-time scoring lead

Experience is the key ingredient in what the men’s basketball team has been cooking up so far this season. With the Huskies this stacked with veteran talent, lofty goals are becoming realistic.

The experience begins with the man in charge. Now in his fifth year at the helm, this isn’t head coach Jonathan Smith’s first rodeo, a sentiment which holds true for the roster as well.

Ted Johnson is in his fifth year as a George Brown Husky. Ashford Arthur enters his fourth season of Ontario College Athletic Association (OCAA) basketball, as does Dejazmatch James. Matthew Bukovec may “only” have two years under his belt, but those were spent with a Humber Hawks squad which went to back-to-back National Championships. And then there’s Ajahmo Clarke.

Clarke has amassed 1,462 points over four seasons with the St. Lawrence Vikings (2008-10) and Durham Lords (2013-15). Beginning the season eighth among the OCAA all-time scoring leaders, the 6’3″ guard has a shot at number one.

“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever coached,” remarked Durham head coach Desmond Rowley. “You can see he’s still a hell of a player. He’s a great young man, I wish him nothing but the best.”

On the court, Clarke often lets his scoring and effective defence do the talking. It’s a reserved style which extends off the court, especially when asked about himself.

“It’s important, but it’s up to God,” Clarke said about the prospect of topping the all-time leaderboard. “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. If it’s not, it’s not.”

Given Clarke’s humble demeanor, it’s no surprise that those around him are more outwardly enthused with helping the scorer chase history. This includes Dejazmatch James, George Brown’s leading scorer last season, who will be key in Clarke’s ascent.

“I really want him to get it. If he gets it, then this will be the second top leading scorer I’ve ever played with,” said James, referring to current OCAA all-time scoring leader and George Brown alumnus Vadim Halimov. “We talked, he just wants me to keep playing my game. He doesn’t want to take every single shot.”

Clarke will inevitably be a focal point, both for his own teammates and the opposition. Despite this, Smith described him as a consummate team player, even to a fault.

“He needs to be more selfish, he’s a very unselfish basketball player,” said the Huskies head coach. “I hate saying that, but he gives up 10 15-foot jumpers; he’s one of the best mid-range guys in the country. Sometimes he gives up too much of those shots to find guys better shots.”

With four victories to begin the season, not to mention both provincial and national rankings, “don’t believe the hype” has been a message from Smith to his veteran squad. They have talent, experience, and with their Nov. 12 loss to Centennial, a lesson in humility.

None of this guarantees success, but let there be no doubt: the ball is in their court.


Been there, done that: veterans take the lead on men’s basketball team