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UFV Basketball Alum Sukhjot Bains Signs With Swedish Pro Club

Abbotsford (Dan Kinvig) – University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball alum Sukhjot Bains is set to launch his European pro career this season in Sweden.

The 6’6” guard from Surrey, B.C. has signed with Helsingborg BBK, a club that plays in the second tier of Swedish pro basketball, the Superettan.

“It feels pretty good,” Bains said, reflecting on his first European pro contract. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do in terms of my basketball career, and I can finally say, yeah, I’ve accomplished that. To start my career in Sweden, it’s a pretty good feeling.”

Bains starred for the UFV men’s basketball program in 2018-19 and 2019-20, helping the Cascades to Canada West playoff berths – and first-round wins – both years. As a senior, he was voted a Canada West third team all-star after averaging 16.1 points per game (second-most on the Cascades and 16th overall in CW), hauling down a team-high 9.3 rebounds (fourth in CW), shooting 38.3 per cent from three-point range, and emerging as one of the conference’s most dominant and versatile defensive players.

Prior to his time at UFV, Bains had a legendary high school career at Surrey’s Tamanawis Secondary, highlighted by a Grade 12 campaign which saw him average 28.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists. He was subsequently voted B.C.’s top senior boys basketball player in a poll conducted by The Province newspaper.

From there, he spent a post-grad season at Peddie Prep in New Jersey, two seasons at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, and one season at NCAA Division I program Wisconsin-Green Bay, before transferring back home to UFV in the summer of 2018.

Bains also suited up for the CEBL’s Fraser Valley Bandits in 2019, and graduated from UFV in 2020 with a Bachelor of Integrated Studies degree.

He’s spent the past 18 months coaching at Surrey’s AthElite Basketball Academy and training for this pro opportunity – putting on a few more pounds of muscle and working on his game, specifically his long-distance shooting and finishing at the hoop. He departs for Sweden on Sept. 6.

“I’ve got some pro experience playing with the Bandits a couple years ago, so I think I’m ready for the level of competition,” he said. “Physically and mentally, I think I’m ready for it. I’ve been training for this for a year and a half, and I think I’ll be able to adapt quickly to the style of play.”

BOUNCE PASSES:

In addition to Bains’s first European pro contract, several other Cascades alums are continuing their professional sport careers overseas this season.

• Taylor Claggett (Mission, B.C.), UFV women’s basketball’s all-time leading scorer, has signed with Glanmire of the Women’s Super League, the top pro basketball circuit in Ireland. This will be Claggett’s second year with an Irish club – she initially signed with Maree in 2020 after wrapping up her university eligibility, but was limited to practicing with her new squad after COVID-19 wiped out their fall season.

• Former Cascades women’s soccer standout Tristan Corneil (Cloverdale, B.C.) is back for a second season with FC Gintra, a pro club based in Šiauliai, Lithuania. Corneil helped Gintra win the championship in Lithuania’s highest league, A Lyga, last season, and participated in the UEFA Women’s Champions League in both 2020 and 2021. Gintra recently saw its 2021 Champions League run come to an end – after an opening-round win over Flora of Estonia, they were knocked out in their next game by Iceland’s Breidablik UBK. Corneil started both games at left back.

• Karlee Pedersen (Abbotsford, B.C.) is continuing her pro soccer career this season with Romania’s FCU Olimpia Cluj. Her club also participated in the UEFA Women’s Champions League this season, dropping its opening-round match to Finland’s Åland United. Pedersen’s ascendant pro career has featured previous stops in Sweden and Israel.

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