Sometimes taking the next steps in life can be the hardest you take, but new Heat men’s basketball recruit James Lum is ready to bring his spark to the Heat this season.
The undersized point guard from Sir Charles Tupper secondary has had a storied trek from high school to the CIS, hopping first to the PACWEST Capilano Blues and then to the SFU Clan, a NCAA Div. II team, before taking a step outside his Vancouver comfort zone and skipping over to the Okanagan.
“The community of Vancouver has watched me grow as a person and player, so it’s tough to leave that support system,” Lum said of leaving his hometown he’s known all his life. “It’s a little nerve racking, not knowing if you’ll receive the same support here. At the same time, I’m excited to start a new chapter in my life.”
Lum has cited both Heat coach Pete Guarasci and his predecessor, Darren Semeniuk, as both being very impactful in his decision to come to UBC’s Okanagan campus (Guarasci was an assistant to Semeniuk when the team was still in the former BCCAA).
The 5-foot 7 point guard made a name for himself with his athleticism and handle of the ball, which made up in spades for what he gave up in height, able to torch opposing teams on the offense at all levels of play with his quickness and savvy. He did so to such a point that even the coaching staff of the Clan became convinced that they had to have him on their team—even as a red-shirt—after seeing him in action in exhibition against them.
“I know coach wants to create an identity of playing up-tempo basketball and I know with my skill set I can help the team reach closer to that,” Lum said of what he hopes to bring to this Guarasci-era team. “I think my biggest attribute would be my basketball IQ. I hope to be a solid point guard who can take care of the basketball, make smart plays, and control the tempo.”
He is not just savvy on the court, however. A dedicated academic, Lum intends to enroll in the Human Kinetics program in the fall, with plans to move into the Faculty of Management and finish with that degree from UBC, a path he has seen the positive effects of. His brother and sister also graduated from UBC, and Lum has always wanted to follow in their footsteps. “Witnessing my siblings’ success today, I know the impact a UBC degree can have on your future endeavours.”
Lum has a passion for working with youth, and runs a youth at risk program called CHAOS boys club at the Sunset community centre in Vancouver. “The goal is to provide a positive environment for boys in grades 6 and 7 to grow as individuals and allow them to transfer the skills they learn to all aspects of their life,” he said of the program.
He will join fellow SFU teammate David Manschreck and former Capilano teammate Mike Zayonc as newcomers to the Heat squad, and Lum has expressed his excitement for working with them again. “David and Mike are two of my closest friends,” Lum said of his new teammates. “Any worries or concerns I have, I know I can lean on these two. Their work ethic will push me to become a better basketball player, and with all three of us sitting out this past year, we all share that hunger to prove ourselves.”
Guarasci is excited to have James join the growing program. “He will help us make steps closer to our identity right away,” coach said of Lum. “James is capable of playing at high speeds while making sound decisions so he’ll help our transition offense.”
“On top of his on-court abilities, James is a solid student and citizen,” Guarasci goes on to say. “UBCO is fortunate to add him to our athletics program.”
It’s his next step, and Kelowna seems just about right.
“I do believe Kelowna is a perfect fit for me,” Lum concludes, “and I hope I can make a positive impact in the community.”
Lum is in training camp with the rest of his Heat teammates this week and the team will begin their preseason on Saturday, Sept. 28 at UBC’s Okanagan campus when they host the Seattle Mountaineers, tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
The first Canada West action for the Heat will be Friday the 1st of November when the Heat host the Alberta Golden Bears.