Abbotsford – The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball program has fortified its roster by signing a pair of outstanding talents from the local high school ranks.
Vlad Mihaila, a guard from Semiahmoo Secondary in Surrey, B.C., and Dhivaan Bhogal, a forward out of Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Secondary, have committed to join the Cascades.
“They’re both excellent players who we think will have very good careers,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen enthused. “The fact that they are local is big, too. That’s a goal of our program – to keep the best players in the Fraser Valley.”
6’4” guard, Surrey, B.C.
Mihaila played his high school hoops under the tutelage of Semiahmoo Totems head coach Ed Lefurgy, a Cascades men’s basketball alum. The dynamic guard had a phenomenal senior campaign, leading his team to a silver medal at the B.C. 4A provincial championships while averaging 26.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists. Along the way, he became Semiahmoo’s all-time leading scorer.
Mihaila’s list of 2017-18 accolades includes tournament all-star honours at the Surrey RCMP Classic, the Legal Beagle, the Western Canada Tournament, the Vancouver College Emerald, and the Kodiak Classic. He followed with all-star nods at both the Fraser Valley championships (second team) and the B.C. 4A championships (first team). He won the three-point contest and finished second in the dunk contest at the Western Canada tourney, and wrapped up his prep career at the B.C. high school all-star game.
“The passion and determination he plays with jump out first,” Friesen said of Mihaila. “He’s a competitor who really loves the sport, and he has a desire to see how good he can become. He can handle the basketball, shoot the basketball, and make good decisions.”
Mihaila, who suited up for the B.C. provincial team from 2015 through 2017, plans to enrol in Arts at UFV with an eye on eventually earning a Bachelor of Education degree.
“It was a tough choice for me, looking at all the schools and considering it,” said Mihaila, who was born in Brasov, Romania, and moved to Surrey with his family when he was two years old. “But I put a list together of what I value, and at the top of that list was my development and becoming the best player I can be. Adam and Trevor (Pridie, Cascades assistant coach) are going to be in the gym with me a lot – they’re really dedicated people, and I have a strong connection with them. I’ve known them since I was in Grade 8, I know they’re good people, and I trust in their ability to develop me. And I know they trust in me as a player as well.”
6’8” forward, Mission, B.C.
W.J. Mouat Secondary
Bhogal boasts a rare combination of size, skill and athleticism. At the offensive end, he’s capable of playing in the post or knocking down shots from the perimeter. Defensively, his length and agility allow him to be a disruptive force.
As a senior, Bhogal averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game in leading his W.J. Mouat Hawks to a silver medal at the Fraser Valley championships and a berth to the B.C. 4A provincials, where they finished 13th. He joined Mihaila on the all-star team at the Western Canada Tournament in Kelowna, and also earned a first team all-star nod at the Fraser Valleys.
“With the versatility that he has, he can grow into something pretty special,” Friesen said of Bhogal. “The combination of his height and length, and the way he moves around the court at his size, is really good. Offensively he can be a threat from anywhere on the court, and in time, I believe he can grow into a truly special defensive talent. He can protect the rim, and start the fast break.”
Bhogal, who plans to study business at UFV, said he loves bringing energy to his team by investing in blue-collar tasks like defence and rebounding.
“I really like the look of the team – it’s a good young team,” he said, breaking down his decision to sign with the Cascades. “I love the coach, and it worked out for me. I was talking to a few other schools, but I didn’t like those looks, and I wanted to stay close to home, too.”