She has the size of a post and the range of a guard, and now Bella Mesquita is a UNBC Timberwolf. The University of Northern British Columbia’s Women’s Basketball program announced the commitment of the Calgary product today, for the upcoming 2020-2021 Canada West season.
“I have been working towards this - strength training four or five times a week and all the hard work is paying off,” said Mesquite. “That is what is most rewarding, knowing I did it, like my coaches told me many times I could. I didn’t know if I could play at the U SPORTS level, so this is rewarding.”
The five-foot-11 Mesquita visited UNBC’s Prince George campus in January, touring the facilities and meeting coach Sergey Shchepotkin and the current roster of Timberwolves. Due to an injury at the time, she was unable to train with the team, but said the trip was critical in her decision to commit.
“Emma (vanBruinessen) took me for a tour, and she was saying hi to everyone,” Mesquita said. “People were opening doors for me. Something that stood out was the community feel. The school is also really open. I love all the windows and high ceilings.”
Training with Genesis Basketball with coach Eddie Richardson, the seventeen-year-old is a former teammate of T-wolves freshman guard Anastasia Soltes, who is also a product of the Genesis program. Mesquita’s all-around game was an asset at the club level, and while she understands the Canada West level is a major step up, she is confident her game will translate to the highest level of university basketball in the country.
“I think I am very versatile. I am almost six-feet-tall, so I can play inside if you need me to, but I can also knock down threes,” she said. “I think I can be a threat on the court, for other teams to have to look for. The university game is faster, and more physical, but I am looking forward to that.”
Shchepotkin’s program has made the Canada West playoffs the past four straight seasons, including playoff wins in each of the past two seasons. His newest recruit was on hand for the team’s double-overtime victory over Lethbridge in February and he is excited to integrate her into a program trending upwards in the conference.
“We are really looking forward to adding Bella to our program,” said Shchepotkin. “She has the size to give smaller defenders trouble and the range to give bigger defenders problems. Plus, she has a love for the game and is a great passer at her position. I am looking forward to working with her and helping her grow into an impact player.”
Mesquita is set to graduate from St. Mary’s High School in Calgary, where she played for the Saints under coach Bill McConkey. That program played in the provincial tournament every year she was on the team, so she has played in high stakes games like she’ll be competing in at the U SPORTS level. That said, she knows there will be an adjustment period but cites all the Timberwolves playing with a common goal as an attractive cultural prospect.
“You can definitely see that the speed and level of play is a lot faster than what I am used to,” Mesquita said. “That stuck out to me. But you can see they all play well together and know where each other are on the court. The coaches and the players communicate very well.”
At UNBC, the honour-roll student plans to pursue a Bachelor of Science, majoring in psychology. She will join her new teammates for training camp in August, and is ready to play the game she loves at the highest level.
“I love it. Basketball is an outlet. When I am on the court, I am not thinking of anything else. Family, friends, school. It is somewhere I can go, be me, and do my thing.”