Transfers Boucher And Desilien Team Up To Help Trappers To Fast Start On Season
After five years playing along side Christopher Boucher, William Desilien was convinced that if he and his best friend were going to fulfill their potential, they’d need to be on the court at the same time.
So Northwest College men’s basketball coach Brian Erickson put them there.
After enduring freshmen collegiate seasons in which they felt misused and under-appreciated, Desilien and Boucher have found new life under the leadership of Erickson and are injecting some of that life into Trapper basketball.
One year ago, Boucher and Desilien (who goes by Nicky as a shortened version of his middle name, Nicholas), were leaving Alma Academy in Alma, Quebec, Canada, to begin their collegiate careers at New Mexico Junior College.
Standing 6-feet-10 with surprising athleticism and an ability to rebound and block the basketball at an impressive rate, Boucher was initially recruited by some Division I basketball programs. However, his grades fell short of DI standards, and when Boucher opted to right his ship at the JuCo level, Desilien took his talents to New Mexico with him.
“I basically had to spend a whole year getting my grades right in Canada,” Boucher said. “And then when I found out I could get things straightened out at the JuCo level and still play basketball, I said ‘OK, let’s do it.’”
“And when Nicky and I found out that New Mexico would take us both, we thought it was a good opportunity.”
What it eventually became however, was half of an opportunity for Boucher, and a lack of one for Desilien. While Desilien admitted his own personal issues with NMJC head coach James Miller led to his constant riding of the bench, both he and Boucher were befuddled as to why Boucher was not being given adequate playing time to showcase his talents.
“I was getting like 20 minutes a game, but the opportunities on the court weren’t there,” Boucher said. “Basically, if there was a play drawn up but it wasn’t for you, you weren’t touching the ball. And that was frustrating because I knew I could have been doing more to help my team.”
The forward posted solid numbers as freshman for the Thunderbirds, registering nearly 12 points, seven rebounds and four blocks per game in 32 contests. But compared to the lanky athlete’s robust numbers for NWC this season, his past frustrations are somewhat understandable.
In his first seven games for Northwest, Boucher is ranked 20th in NJCAA Division I basketball with 22 points per game to go with 11.6 rebounds (15th) and 5.9 blocks (second).
Meanwhile, Desilien has hit his stride too, as coach Erickson has seemingly bonded with a player supposedly labeled “tough to work with,” and given the guard a chance to shine on the court. Desilien is seventh in the nation with 25 points per game to go with 5.5 assists in six games.
Desilien attributed the hike in stats to his time on the court with Boucher, as well as the duo’s appreciation for the second-chance opportunity handed out by Erickson.
“Chris ... Chris is not my friend, Chris is my brother,” Desilien said. “We talk like brothers, we hang out like brothers ... we live and play basketball like brothers. And when we’re out there on the court, we’re playing for each other.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when coach Erickson brought us here and put us on the court together, that Chris and I started blowing up a little bit,” he continued. “And we owe a lot of that to coach Erickson. He looked past this bad reputation that I had garnered at New Mexico, and took me in along with Chris and helped us.”
For his willingness to open his door to the transfers, Erickson has been rewarded with a 6-1 record so far this year and an offense that averages 100 points per game. While a slew of Trappers have done their share in collecting those wins and posting those numbers, Boucher and Desilien have become mainstays atop the stat sheets.
“When you looked at Chris and Nicky from last year, you saw two kids who worked hard and had some real talent, but kids who, at the same time, also needed a place to spread their wings a little bit,” Erickson said. “I thought that Northwest could be somewhere for them to get comfortable and have the opportunity to play as hard as I knew and they knew they could.”
Boucher’s numbers this season have again drawn attention from dozens of Division I basketball programs. Erickson joked that his mailbox rarely contains a letter addressed to himself or his wife anymore, as coaches nationwide are clamoring to get an in with Boucher. But the talented sophomore has managed to brush aside the DI interest for now, and has set his sights on a more immediate goal.
“When I talked to Chris about it, I asked him ‘Chris, what do you want to do? Do you want to sign early or do you want to sign late?” Erickson said. “And he looked at me and said ‘Coach, I just want to win basketball games.’”
And so far, Boucher, Desilien and the rest of the Trappers are doing just that. Desilien admitted that after this season comes to an end, he’s unsure whether or not he and his “brother” will continue their basketball careers together. But for now, he’s hoping the two will at least end things the way they envisioned when migrating from Canada last year.
“Right now, Chris and I think we’re unstoppable,” Desilien said with a smile. “We honestly think we can get to nationals. With the way this team is playing, with me and Chris and the rest of the guys, we’re going to be a very good team at the end.
“And in the meantime, I’m just fortunate that I get to go on this ride with Chris one more time.”