Vernon’s Will Ondrik of the UBC Thunderbirds (left) draws a foul from a player from Korea’s Chung Ang University during the International Top University Basketball tournament last month in Taipei.

Will Ondrik painting bright hoops season

Will Ondrik can’t wait to trade the whiff of paint fumes for the smell of gym sweat

Will Ondrik can’t wait to trade the whiff of paint fumes for the smell of gym sweat.

Ondrik, who has spent most of the summer working as a full-time painter, is looking forward to starting training camp for his final year in CIS university hoops with the UBC men’s basketball team, where the 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward will start for the Thunderbirds.

“Training camp starts in late August, early September and we start in November,” said Ondrik, 23, who is studying for a major in environmental sustainability for geography, with a minor in economics.

Ondrik was able to put down the paint brushes and rollers for a bit in July and travel to Taipei, Taiwan with his teammates for the International Top University Basketball Tournament.

UBC was representing Canada and dominated the tournament, going 5-0 and winning their games by 27, 34, 59, 62 and 28 points, an average margin of victory of 42 points, against university squads from Korea, China, Japan and two from the host country.

“It was fun,” said Ondrik of the trip. “It was cool to go to a different country. Teams in Asia play a different style than in North America.

“They rely more on the shooting game and they’re a lot smaller. When they saw how big we were, they were intimidated. We are a big, physical team and they didn’t like that much.”

Ondrik was held off the scoresheet in limited playing time Thursday in an 89-71 loss in Vancouver to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte 49ers, who were kicking off a Canadian tour.

The 49ers are coached by former NBA guard Mark Price.

Ondrik, whose mom, dad and three brothers live in Vernon, attended Vernon Secondary before transferring to White Rock Christian Academy for his Grade 12 year.

He returned to the region for post-secondary ball, signing on with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack in Kamloops.

After overcoming a knee injury and a broken thumb with the WolfPack, Ondrik decided a change of scenery was in order, and transferred to UBC. He sat out a year before returning to help the Thunderbirds finish third in the Canada West Conference a year ago.

As a fifth-year player, Ondrik will be looked upon to provide leadership.

“He’s been around the conference and league for five years, knows the league, so leadership has to be a focal part of the year,” said UBC assistant coach Spencer McKay.

UBC hosted the CIS Elite 8 finals, losing their quarterfinal match in overtime to Toronto’s Ryerson Rams, before winning two games on the consolation side.

The Elite 8 return to Halifax this year.

“We’ve only lost one player, a starter, but everyone else is returning,” said Ondrik, who describes his strengths as being athletic for being 6-foot-7, and for being able to beat guys off the dribble.

UBC loves Ondrik’s athleticism.

“He’s a good, all-round player,” said McKay. “He can play a bunch of different roles and we have lots of confidence in him. Will also loves a challenge so we often put him up against the other team’s best player on defence.”

Ondrik started 34 of 36 games for UBC in 2015-16, averaging eight points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

“I’m excited to get things going for real,” said Ondrik “We’re going to have a strong team and it would be real nice to finish my last year with a championship.”

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