Griffins continue Canada Topflight Academy West recruiting pipeline with latest addition Merk

Griffins continue Canada Topflight Academy West recruiting pipeline with latest addition Merk

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – It's clear the MacEwan Griffins men's basketball team has something positive brewing in their pipeline from Canada West Topflight Academy West in Calgary.

Rookies Damilola Osuma and Job Janda graduated from that program and offered tantalizing glimpses of their talents on both ends of the floor in 2021-22.

Now, a third product from CTA West – current team captain Isaiah Merk – will be joining the Griffins for the 2022-23 Canada West season, head coach Mike Connolly announced on Thursday.

"He's a tough defender who's very athletic," said Connolly of the 6-foot-1 Regina, Sask. product. "He's 220 pounds of solid rock mass. He's an athlete that we want. I think he brings the character of toughness and defence, and he can shoot the ball well.

"The thing that we really like is he's the captain of that prep team," he added. "He's a leader and he'll be a leader in the future for us. We just wanted to have really good quality character guys in here who are talented and can get us to the next level."

Merk can play a variety of positions, but Connolly has him tabbed for a guard spot with the Griffins "because he's strong enough."

Over the years, Connolly has forged a relationship with CTA West head coach Adam Huffman, whom he has known since high school, and it's led to a growing pipeline from the academy that produces the type of player the Griffins are looking for.

"We have a great relationship and I know what we're getting with his coached kids," said Connolly. "They're hard-nosed, tougher defensive oriented players who are team-oriented, culture-oriented to have success.

"Bringing those young kids in to grow here, it's work. We knew we were going to be struggling this year and needed to have good character kids to grow. Dami and Job have done that. Isaiah's along that block and I think he'll be a leader for us in the future."