Once a Viking, now a Gael

A leading scorer at St. Lawrence, Mackenzie Simpson, joins the Gaels this season

Mackenzie Simpson averaged 14.8 points per game at St. Lawrence College last season.
Mackenzie Simpson averaged 14.8 points per game at St. Lawrence College last season.

With his first major move as the new head coach of men’s basketball, Stephan Barrie will bring four new recruits to training camp in August.

Among the recruits is Mackenzie Simpson, one of the top scorers on the St. Lawrence College Vikings last season. The 6’6 forward averaged 14.8 points and about five rebounds per game with the Vikings last year.

Barrie, who was hired in April, said former Gaels head coach Duncan Cowan was responsible for most of the scouting and recruiting legwork that led to Simpson’s coming to Queen’s.

“We’re fortunate that these … players proceeded to come to Queen’s with the coaching changes that happened,” Barrie said.

Simpson had been in touch with Cowan for three years and only found out about the coaching change a week after he committed to playing the Gaels.

“At first, I was really mad about it as I was attached to playing for Duncan,” he said. “But after getting to know [Barrie] for these past couple months, I’m really looking forward to playing for him.”

Simpson said he’d been planning to move across town to Queen’s since he started at the local college two years ago.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now,” he said. “My plan was to do two years and get my diploma, which I got, and then go to university after that for the next three years.”

After playing two seasons at St. Lawrence, Simpson loses Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) eligibility, so he can only play with the Gaels for a maximum of three years.

Simpson will transition from the Ontario College Athletics Association level of basketball to interuniversity play this season. He said the switch will pose challenges.

“I’ve always felt like the CIS is a step up from college in terms of basketball in general and the level of competition.”

The Queen’s team is currently running practices on campus. Official training camp starts at the end of August.

With the loss of five veteran players including Dan Bannister and Tim Boyle who graduated last year, Simpson will be an asset for the Gaels, Queen’s point guard Ryan Golden said.

“He’s going to be huge this season,” Golden said, adding that he’s already developed a relationship with the incoming forward.

“He’s a great team guy ... You call him up and ask ‘You want to go shoot?’ or ‘You want to lift weights?’ and he’s always down.”

Two of the other recruits this year are products of the same high school program in Etobicoke, guards Scott Morrison and Seth Evershed. Centre John Lenz will comes to Queen’s from an Ottawa high school.

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