The uOttawa women’s basketball program announced its first pair of recruits for the upcoming 2015-16 season following the commitments of Aliisa Heiskanen of Thunder Bay, Ont. and Anne Wagar of Kingston, Ont.
“We are excited to have both these players come and join us,” says Gee-Gees head coach Andy Sparks. “They will join our 13 returning players and complement our team style very well.”
Heiskanen is an accomplished player at all levels, including multiple club and high school championships as well as three seasons with Canada Basketball’s Centres for Performance program. That culminated in her selection to Team Ontario for the 2014 U17 National Championships.
Gee-Gees head coach Andy Sparks calls the 5-11 guard/forward strong and athletic, and expects to see her on the wing although Heiskanen is experienced anywhere from shooting guard to power forward. Her rebounding ability led her to collect eight rebounds at a game at the U17 nationals, and she averaged 7.4 rebounds per game on the high school circuit.
Heiskanen, whose mother played one season of basketball at Laurentian University, can also pour in the points. In her 2014 Superior Secondary Schools Athletics Association championship game she notched 40 points to lead the Hammarskjold Vikings to the gold. The team would go on to capture the NWOSSA championship as well and Heiskanen averaged 26.5 points per game during her grade 12 season.
That season would end with an ACL injury during the championship game, so Heiskanen will come to the Gee-Gees fresh off of rehabilitation from her January 8 surgery.
“When I came down to visit [in October] I loved the city and the downtown campus,” says Aliisa. “I was looking for an academic fit and looking for the right fit for the type of basketball I want to play. I like playing quick basketball, moving the ball and getting up and down the court. I’m excited to try something different and play at a higher level.” Heiskanen will study biomedical sciences.
Anne Wagar has experienced a tremendous surge in her basketball career since joining the Kingston Impact of the JUEL League. The 6-foot forward is averaging 7.7 points and six rebounds per game this season after only starting to play competitive basketball in grade nine. Although her high school team, the Frontenac Falcons, has not seen any banners during her career, Wagar credits her early high school coaches with pushing her to new levels.
Wagar represented the St. Lawerence region at the 2012 Ontario Summer Games and continued to hone her game at development camps put on by Queen’s and RMC. Now in her third year of JUEL, Wagar caught the eye of Sparks. “Our team has been very competitive,” says Wagar. “We are a smaller team but we are really good at transition and we also have a lot of energy off the bench.”
“I like to be in a more physical game. I love playing defence and battling with the girls that are six-four and six-five.”
Wagar, who will train this spring with long-time coach Kirsti Siltanen, played one season of JUEL with fellow Kingston area product and now Gee-Gee Sarah Besselink. She is looking forward to following in her mother’s footsteps at uOttawa’s criminology program.
“I really feel like I can be myself at uOttawa for the next four or five years,” concludes Wagar.