In the seven months since Jermaine Small was named the new head coach of the Pronghorns men’s basketball team, the rest of the world might have slowed down, but Small just kept adding to his resume.
The University of Lethbridge named Small the 13th head of the program in March, but his first in-person introduction wasn’t until September.
In between, Small won a Canadian Elite Basketball League Championship in the CEBL bubble, as the head coach of the Edmonton Stingers.
“It helped me grow as a coach and a person,” Small said. “I just feel so fortunate to use that experience and have it transfer over here and hopefully bring a championship here.”
Following the championship win, Small was named the CEBL coach of the year.
The bench boss is no stranger to university basketball, first competing as a player before his coaching career began, with stops at Queens University and with the Ryerson Rams before joining the Stingers.
Small says his coaching style can be described as a lot of tough love.
“But I always tell my players the biggest word in that is the love,” he said with a laugh.
“For me the biggest, most important thing is their experience while playing for me and I just want them to get better and maximize their experience and their opportunity with me.”
The new Horns coach is already making his mark on the U of L team, with his first class of recruits including the grandson of the first coach in the program’s history.
“The guys that we’ve added, I really feel that they’re going to be future building blocks,” he said.
“Two of them are local — from Brooks and Calgary — so it’s good to have them here.
“Then we have a kid, Karter Fry, whose grandfather coached here. So when I heard that, I jumped all over it.”
The three new additions to the roster are Paul Asebiode of Calgary, Deng Dak of Brooks and Karter Fry; a Vancouver Island product whose grandfather Robin coached the Horns in 1969-70 and from 1973 to 1976, and whose cousin Katie Keith completed her senior year with the Pronghorns women’s basketball team in the spring.
“It was really special and it felt like it was meant to be for me to join the Pronghorns,” Fry said. “Jermaine, he’s a great coach. I was talking to him over the summer and I could tell that he really cared about me and how I develop not only as a player, but as a man.”
Fellow recruit Asebiode also says the opportunity to play for Small was a big part of his decision to come to Lethbridge.
“I felt like he really cared about me outside of basketball and actually cared about me academically too,” Asebiode said.
“He wanted to make sure that I was trying to think outside of basketball and what I’m going to do when I graduate. I just liked that he was interested in me and not just my skills in basketball.”
The final recruit, Dak, headed from Brooks to Winnipeg before joining the Pronghorns, spending last year with the Northstar Preparatory Institute. Small says the 6’4″ guard turned down opportunities in the United States in order to play for the Horns.
Small and his team will soon find out whether they will see any conference action this season, with a decision expected from Canada West by Nov. 2.