When it came to mapping out his future university basketball career, Brian Wallack had no shortage of options.
The Semiahmoo Totems’ point guard had been heavily recruited since his Grade 11 season, according to his head coach Ed Lefurgy, and had “about 10” suitors from programs across Western Canada.
As a six-foot-five guard whose intangibles – from off-the-court leadership to his high GPA – are as impressive as his talent level, he could have likely found a landing spot in which he could have been a near-immediate contributor.
So, of course he chose a team with a glut of talented guards on the roster and more recruits incoming – the University of B.C. Thunderbirds.
Rather than see that as a roadblock to playing time, Wallack – among the more coachable players Lefurgy said he’s had at Semiahmoo – instead chooses to take the long view.
“I’d seen that there were a bunch of guards there already… but I looked at it like: I’ll get to get practice time against some very good players,” he said.
“And practising against those players will make me better, as well.”
Learning from others and putting in the requisite practice time shouldn’t be a problem for Wallack, who, after the high-school season ended in March, only took a few weeks off before resuming training. He’s also been attending UBC open-gym sessions since last summer, through which he got to know a handful of his soon-to-be teammates.
That work ethic has never surprised Lefurgy, who first coached Wallack when the young guard was a member of Semiahmoo’s Grade 8 boys team.
“It’s always important for your strongest players to be the hardest workers, and that’s definitely what he brought,” Lefurgy said. “He came early to practice, he stayed late – he put in a lot of extra hours.
“He’s put in a lot of work, and had to make some tough decisions here in the last little while. We’re really happy for him.”
Considering his size, Wallack has always been a bit of a matchup nightmare for opposing teams at the high-school level, as he’s able to score, distribute the ball and, in his own end, defend almost any spot on the court. And though there’s an obvious leap to make in moving from high school to university basketball, Lefurgy thinks the adjustment will be a success.
“Brian is very versatile – he can play as a point guard, as a two (shooting guard) or as a three (small forward),” the coach said.
Lefurgy also raves after the leadership skills possessed by Wallack, who served as one of the Totems’ captains during the team’s just-completed season that ended at provincial quad-A championships.
“He’s very much a leader, on and off the floor,” Lefurgy said. “He helped me out a ton, even with just logistical stuff – he’d collect forms for me, he’d communicate with the other players. And on the road, I knew I could hold him accountable (for the other players), and he’d help me. He’s just that kind of kid… almost like an assistant coach.”
Wallack decided on UBC earlier this month, and said the decision was “a weight off my shoulders, for sure.”
“In the last couple weeks, before I decided, I was stressing out quite a bit. I wanted to make the best decision I could, and I think I ended up doing that,” he said.
Wallack plans to study kinesiology at the Point Grey campus, and said he was looking forward to the summer, when he can start attending more open-gyms and get integrated into the team’s weight-training program.
“I just want to get into their system… I’m looking ahead to next season,” he said.