Sukhjot Bains is the man on the Northwest College men’s basketball team who gives opponents the most trouble.
You try to cover him.
The 6-foot-6 sophomore from Delta, British Columbia, has the skill to dribble the ball upcourt, drive past defenders, or pull up and take a three-point shot from anywhere on the perimeter.
Is he a guard? Is he a forward?
He has long arms and a long stride and an instinct for plucking rebounds out of the air with his reach and jumping ability, often easily out-positioning taller players who jump straight up.
In his two seasons for the Trappers, Bains has been a multi-dimensional weapon and a season from now he will fulfill his goal by blending his talents in with some NCAA Division I basketball team.
Bains has been the rock of the franchise in Powell these last two seasons, the guy the Trappers and coach Brian Erickson occasionally turn to and simply say, “Go get ‘em.”
Bains is averaging 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds a game going into 18-12 Northwest’s Region IX playoff game at Sheridan on Saturday.
The numbers would probably be higher if he hadn’t bashed a big toe in a game against Williston, N.D., and missed five more games before he could run properly again.
He has hit for 27 points, 26 and 22 points in various games this season.
“I feel coach has used me in a lot of ways,” Bains said.
Given the smoothness and versatility of his game, it is a wonder Bains was not welcomed into a D-I program out of high school. Instead, he attended a prep school in Hightstown, N.J., for a year and now has two years of growth at Northwest on his resume.
His exposure to the Division I universe has been expanding. Schools such as Fairfield in Connecticut, Portland State in Oregon and Grambling in Louisiana, as well as Division II University of Alaska Anchorage, have expressed interest in getting to know him better.
“I am pretty confident I will be able to fit in,” Bains said.
Erickson is sure Bains will be enticed by a multitude of opportunities before the end of April.
“He’s good enough for Division I,” Erickson said. “It may be low-level Division I like the MAAC (Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference). He’s getting feelers from Iona, Detroit, Northern Colorado. He’s gonna be fine.”
More than fine if Bains’ big game under pressure against Sheridan on Feb. 8 is a measuring stick. Bains was good for 27 points when the Trappers needed him most in their 101-100 triple overtime victory.
“He is a complete player,” Erickson said. “I think he’s improved a ton. He’s gotten stonger, for sure.”
Bains spreads 195 pounds over his lanky frame, but it is his agility in the paint, more than his strength, that enables him to go head-to-head with taller and heavier players for rebounds.
“He’s got a knack for it,” Erickson said. “He just boxes out and he has a sense of where the ball is going.”
Delta is in Vancouver’s orbit, with a population of around 100,000. Powell is the smallest place Bains, 21, has lived. In high school, father Sodhi and mother Jaspal, neither of whom were big basketball followers, came to all of his games. Now they monitor his performances on the internet.
“I made them into basketball fans,” Bains said.
Bains said he knew nothing about Wyoming when he signed on at Northwest and now it seems the time has gone by too quickly.
“I’m not ready for it to end,” he said.
Bains could actually have departed Northwest for Fairfield last year. He even took a visit.
But he is likely to be a more finished product for schools in the market during the upcoming recruiting wars. He restructured his outside shot, which looked awkward, moving his push hand a few inches over and placing the ball more in front of his eyes.
“I kind of centered it more,” Bains said. “A slight difference made my shot better.”
Those slight differences, slight improvements, are bound to find Sukjhot Bains a new home in a larger basketball world.