For more than three months, Cartiea French-Toney sat on the bench for the Quest Kermodes men’s basketball team and soaked it all in.
Academically ineligible to play earlier this season, the Seattle native bided his time and made his regular-season debut for the Kermodes on Jan. 4 in Quest’s 72-52 win over Capilano. His impact was immediate, as he scored 11 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out four assists and picked up four steals.
The debut has been a long time coming for the 6-foot, 175-pound point guard and he told The Chief he hopes to help develop a winning culture at Quest.
“I hope to come in and bring some leadership and be someone that competes every night,” he said. “I would describe myself as a pass-first point guard, someone who is looking to get his teammates involved and making them better. It’s really important for me to set up guys because if my team is doing good, then I’m doing good.”
French-Toney comes to Quest with a wealth of experience from his days playing high school and college basketball in Seattle. He helped lead the Cleveland High School Eagles to a 12-4 record in his senior year back in 2007 and then moved on to Olympic College in Bremerton, where he led the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) last season in steals, was second in assists and averaged 15 points per game.
“It was a good experience, it was a good year,” he said, noting that his team finished out of the playoffs with a record of 6-10. “I had a good season personally, but I would give up those stats to get a few more wins.”
A few more wins is exactly what French-Toney has brought to the Kermodes in a short period of time. Quest won its first road game of the season on Jan. 11 with him in the lineup and French-Toney said it hasn’t taken long for him to develop chemistry with his teammates.
“It’s not really different having to play with the guys in a game, because I’ve been practicing with them almost every day,” he said. “It’s translating into the game, but I’m used to the guys. I’m not trying to come in here and stand out, I want to fit in and be a missing piece.”
French-Toney said he’s managed to gel quickly with one of the top scorers in the Pacwest — Quest’s Jose Colorado.
“I know where to find Jose and I know he’s going to find a way to get open,” he said. “He wants to shoot the ball so I try to get it to him.”
One of the challenges for any Quest athlete is the school’s demanding academic load. French-Toney said the block schedule makes sense for him as a student.
“It’s appealing to me because as a student-athlete it gives you a chance to focus on one class at a time instead of normal school where you’re taking five or six classes at once,” he said. “With the block system you can focus on one class and put all your efforts towards it.”
French-Toney admitted it was a transition adjusting to the new academic style but that he’s enjoying it.
“There’s only two things to do here — school and basketball,” he said, laughing. “I struggled here at first, but after my first block I got a lot of help and got a peer tutor and it’s working out. I’m trying to do all the things necessary to help me out so I can succeed academically.”
Quest head coach Sean Shook suddenly has some depth on his team and said French-Toney should be an important part of the team.
“We’ve never had a player like Cartiea here at Quest,” he told The Chief. “He’s a guy that can move the ball down court fast and help set up our offence quickly.”
The Kermodes next play at home on Jan. 25, when Douglas College comes to town. For more details on the team, visit www.questkermodes.ca.