2016 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Media Day: Canada-to-Utah pipeline still going strong with Paige Crozon and Emily Potter
SAN FRANCISCO – It’s no secret that Canadian players have made a big impact on the women’s college basketball scene over the years, from the Indiana Fever’s Natalie Achonwa (Notre Dame) to Olympian Nirra Fields (UCLA) and everywhere in between.
But not many programs have had as much success with mining America’s northern border as Utah. In recent memory, Michelle Plouffe and Taryn Wicijowski made for a threatening Utah frontcourt, with Plouffe leaving Utah as the program’s all-time leading rebounder and second all-time leading scorer and Wicijowski ending her college career as one of five Utes to reach both the 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound plateau for her career. The lone player ahead of Plouffe on the all-time scoring list? Kim Gaucher (formerly Kim Smith), a native of Mission, British Columbia.
In all, the Utes had three former players on the Canadian Olympic Team – Plouffe, Gaucher and Shona Thorburn. No other school had more than one representative on Team Canada.
The 2016-17 Utes will again feature major contributors from up North in wing Paige Crozon and forward Emily Potter, both of whom have experience in the Canadian National Team system. The two were recognized for their collegiate play last season, as Crozon was named Pac-12 All-Conference Honorable Mention and Potter earned Pac-12 All-Conference Team accolades.
And with Nova Scotia native Daneesha Provo entering her redshirt sophomore season, the Canada-to-Utah pipeline doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
“Obviously we will and have been continuing to recruit in Canada. We kind of have instant credibility with the Canadian players because they can look at the Canadian Olympic team,” head coach Lynne Roberts said at Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day. “If you’re good enough to play in the Pac-12, you’ve got ambition to play on the Canadian National Team, the senior team, so you can take a look at a Kim Smith or Shona and say, ‘hey, if you go to Utah you have a good shot at doing that.’”
“So it has helped in recruiting in terms of just validating the experience you get at Utah. We know how to take care of them, obviously, and that I think is a comfort level for them making their final choice.”
Crozon, a fifth-year senior with self-described “old bones” who has played for Canada at the U18 and U19 levels, played with Plouffe prior to coming to Utah and made quick friends with Wicijowski on her official visit. She says that both of them were positive influences in her basketball career.
“It was great to look up to them because they brought tremendous abilities to the University of Utah and achieved a lot while they were there,” Crozon said. “They were kind of an inspiration for me growing up, and even then when I got [to Utah], so it was great to learn from such incredible players.
Potter, a redshirt junior who played for Canada at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women, is happy to continue the proud tradition of Canadians playing for the Utes.
“Looking at the players that have come before us, even going back to Shona and Kim, I think it’s really a blessing to be a part of that Canadian tradition and pipeline and try to build on the legacy that they have left,” Potter said.