Column: Benoite may have found a gem in Parnsalu

John
John Browne
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Memorial Sea-Hawks men’s basketball team is having a little more success in recruiting players from outside the province, and, in some cases, outside of the country, in recent years.

Davion Parnsalu

MUN coach Peter Benoite has been beating the bushes trying to find a player or a combination of players good enough to propel his team to the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) playoffs, a position the Sea-Hawks haven’t been in since the 2005-06 season.

Serbian import Vasilije Curcic is obviously the one that comes to mind immediately as MUN’s best recruit from outside the province. And there’s Alpha Kisusi from Tanzania.

But by far, Ontario is the prefered recruitment hub for the Sea-Hawks men’s and women’s teams.

There are 10 Ontario natives on the Sea-Hawks women’s basketball team, the most ever. The men’s squad includes five players on the active roster from Ontario, along with two red shirts.

This season, the new recruit from Ontario who stands out is a kid named Davion Parnsalu.

A 5-11 point guard, Parnsalu was born in Markham, but spent most of his life living in Pickering as well as Ajax, Ont.

The business administration student did well at Notre Dame High School in Ajax, Ont., winning the junior boys’ athlete of the year, senior boys’ athlete of the year and MVP award in Grade 9 and 10.

Northpolehoops.com (NPH) scouting report says of Parnsalu that he’s a, “Pass first PG with great vision. Doesn’t make many mistakes and takes care of the ball.”

Benoite said Parnsalu was one of a number of players he was aware of because he’d been following several teams in Ontario, and had noticed the kid’s Notre Dame team.

The MUN coach said he hadn’t seen Parnsalu play in person, but caught an Internet streamed game that also included fellow MUN rookie Jacob Ranton, who played against Parnsalu.

Parnsalu played well and scored 18 points in that game.

It obviously helps to have a contact when trying to find someone to play for MUN.

Benoite said about a week later, he was in touch with Mac Brown, a native of Peterborough, Ont., who played for Lakefield High School and red shirted with MUN for a year. He later played at the small college level before starting a recruiting agency.

“He was in contact with me and one of the players he had been in contact with happened to be Davion,” explained Benoite.

Brown figured Parnsalu would fit into Benoite’s coaching style and could certainly help the Sea-Hawks.

“I trusted Mac,” said Benoite. “He had an incredible work ethic when he was here, and we maintained a good relationship when he left.

“So,” he said, “Mac put me in touch with Davion and we had him down for a recruiting visit. I really liked what I saw, and knew he would be able to help us.”

See COMFORTABLE, page C2

For his part, Parnsalu said, “To be honest, I did not know anything about MUN or St. John’s before I came here

“But, after receiving a phone call from coach Benoite about an opportunity for playing ball at MUN, we arranged for me to make a visit for a weekend to see what the basketball program at MUN was like and what the City of St. John’s was like.”

Parnsalu said his visit was enjoyable, but he didn’t make up his mind right away.

“I was still considering my other options because I wasn’t sure if I could study so far away from home,” Parnsalu said. “But after balancing out the pros and cons, I decided that MUN was the best opportunity for me basketball-wise as well as education-wise. And the city’s wonderful.”

So far, he’s happy about his decision to come to Memorial.

“The guys on my team are already like family to me, so it really helped me settle in and become comfortable living away from home,” he said.

“I’m just very glad that I chose to continue my education at MUN and thankful that coach gave me the opportunity to play ball here. Now, it’s just about doing what I came here to do and that’s to win.”

Brownie points

I’ve been told not to expect the appointment of a new Memorial University athletics director until well into 2014. The Memorial University big wigs are beating the mainland bushes for Michelle Healey’s replacement. You can bet it won’t be a local ... It’s been a couple of week’s and I still can’t get my head around the four-goal game by Luis Suarez against Norwich City. I’ve never seen such brilliance by one player in one game before ... Reader Jamie West points out it’s a speech by Linus, not Pig Pen, at the end of the Christmas cartoon. Search YouTube for Charlie Brown’s Christmas ... I’d like to see (and hear) Memorial Sea-Hawks men’s basketball team hit the court to the first 10 seconds of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir  ... Former Memorial Sea-Hawks basketball star Grace Fishbein is in Germany playing professionally with TSV Towers Speyer, where she is averaging 10.3 points-per-game and 6.1 rebounds-per-game ...

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Sea-Hawks, Atlantic University Sport, Lakefield High School

Geographic location: Ontario, Ajax, Notre Dame Tanzania Markham Pickering Peterborough Norwich Kashmir Germany

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