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UNBC men have international look

Todd Jordan has gone to Europe and Down Under to fill out his roster for the UNBC Timberwolves.

Todd Jordan has gone to Europe and Down Under to fill out his roster for the UNBC Timberwolves.

The head coach of the men's basketball team has added five new recruits with size and skill to his squad that will compete in the newly-aligned Explorers Division in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Canada West Conference.

The additions are necessary due to graduating players - guard Dan Stark and forward Charles Barton - both of whom played big minutes. Barton was the T-wolves leading scorer last season.

"Losing Dan and Charles - those are two pretty big losses, but we're really excited about who's coming in this season," said Jordan. "We're bigger, deeper and we're pretty excited about where we're going. There's some energy and excitement around the guys and I feel positive about where it's going."

Among the new class is shooting guard Rhys Elliot, who grew up in Australia but spent the last two seasons at Iowa Central, a two-year junior college in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Vaggelis Loukas is a six-foot-six freshman forward from Greece who found his way to Prince George thanks to some connections from UNBC's women's head coach Sergey Shchepotkin.

"Rhys is really athletic and he'll help us out quite a bit," said Jordan. "Vaggelis is a pretty tough kid - he's a typical European and has a knack for the basketball. He just turned 20 and this is his first year in a North American university. In the long-term I'm really excited [about him]."

Michael Smith is a six-foot-two guard originally from Brampton, Ont., who spent the 2012-13 season at Brandon University. He still has two years of CIS eligibility left and chose to earn another degree at UNBC.

"He's a good athlete and has natural ability," said Jordan.

Closer to home, Jordan went south to North Vancouver to recruit two transfers from Capilano University.

Sam Zhang is a six-foot-four shooting guard transferring into his fourth year.

Colin Plumb is a six-foot-five utility guard.

"Sam is a strong kid who'll give us some size that we haven't had at that position," said Jordan. "Colin can do some things like Dan [Stark] did."

Jordan said those five will definitely add to the T-wolves returning lineup with guys such as Billy Cheng, Franck Olivier Kouagnia and Marcus MacKay, who've been in the gym consistently.

"We're a much different lineup, we're a little bigger and I feel pretty confident of our chances," said Jordan.

UNBC finished the 2013-14 season with a record of 5-17 for eighth place in the Pacific Division.

CIS West realigned its divisions in June and the T-wolves will now compete in the new Explorers Division against schools that are relatively new to the CIS.

They include UBC Okanagan (Kelowna), Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops), University of the Fraser Valley (Abbotsford), Mount Royal University (Calgary), and MacEwan University (Edmonton).

Teams will play each other four times over the course of the regular season with the top teams crossing over to compete against those from the newly- realigned Pioneers Division.

"Mount Royal and MacEwan are new schools [in the CIS] and TRU and UFV have been very good the last couple years," said Jordan. "They're all very strong teams and definitely command our respect. The rivalry will be built during the season and I think after the fourth game [when we play each other] it will be a war."

The new roster will tip off against former teammates in the annual alumni game tonight at 7 at the Northern Sport Centre.

The men's game follows the women's alumni game at 5 p.m.

Both the men and women have byes on opening weekend - Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, and hit the road to Kamloops Nov. 7-8 to battle TRU.