Heath stays close to home
Kiano Heath found what he was looking for in his backyard.
The Quebec native had some specific requirements for his post-secondary education following his graduation from Ridley College and Bishop’s University more than satisfied his needs.
“It’s a small community feel,” Heath said. “They have a really good team. They were at the national championships this year.
“It clicked all boxes for me to be close to home, play for a good program, and get into a good school.”
Heath, a 6-foot-9 forward who played four years for the Ridley Prep Boys team, wasn’t so sure at first about Bishop’s.
“In November, the coach (Rod Gilpin) reached out to me. They are a local university here. I live about an hour away and I never really thought about their basketball program,” Heath said.
But Ridley coach Derrick des Vignes played with Gilpen at Laurentian and persuaded Heath to have an open mind when considering the school.
“He told me about Bishop’s and how Gilpen was a great player so I decided to look into it and I ended up really liking the school,” said Heath, who plans to major in secondary education with a concentration in physics.
Gilpen loves what Heath brings to the table.
“Aside from his size and athleticism, what initially piqued my interest was that he was a multi-sport athlete,” Gilpen said. “For a kid who is 6-foot-10 to be part of provincial team programs in both basketball and rugby in Quebec is special. He has the unique blend of being a big kid who can run and is not afraid to be physical. We are happy his sole focus will be basketball at BU though.”
He is thankful he was able to commit before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“It feels great. I was able to get my application in before our March break and I heard I was accepted during the break,” he said. “It feels so great to know that I am going somewhere next year with all this uncertainty going on and not even being able to graduate on campus.
“I have a solid plan as to what’s going to happen next year.”
Heath feels he will be able to make the jump to the next level.
“I have sort of a leg up because I played in the OSBA (Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association). I was going up against guys who went to D1 programs in the States and played against players who are in the NBA right now,” he said. “I think it will definitely be a lot more intense and a lot more physical but playing in the OSBA prepared me for something like that.”
Heath has been in contact with Gilpin and feels he has a good idea of how he will fit in.
“Our coach has been telling me lot about what they plan on doing next year. They want to run a lot and they want a mobile big man. I’ve been playing a mobile spot at Ridley and they want me to transfer that, to be able to run the floor, run a set screen, and be able to be a mobile asset on the floor.”
Gilpin feels Heath will have an opportunity to contribute this season.
“We return a veteran team this year, but I see Kiano competing for minutes at the centre position,” he said. “We expect him to develop into a player who can be a focal point in our offence and anchor our half-court defence. He really has only scratched the surface of his potential and it often takes big guys just a little longer to get there.”
Heath has also been working out once a week with Gilpin and his staff at an outdoor facility in Sherbrooke.
“Our strength coach has been pushing us with workout programs,” he said. “We’re having team meetings and getting together and working and motiving each other. We’re doing one-on-ones with skills and shooting.
“It’s great to be able to work out with them because they give me a good idea of what to expect.”
Heath will miss his time in black and orange.
“From Grades 9-12, I was looking for somewhere to play a high level of basketball. I didn’t give much thought to Ridley because it was a Canadian school and I wanted to go somewhere down in the States but Dave Whitty reached out a lot and told me about their program. I eventually caved and came for a visit and I loved it from the moment I stepped on the campus.”
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