Harker on mark

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

In basketball, the closer to the basket, the easier to score.

Because of that, getting to the hoop can often provide to be a challenge for those smaller in stature, averse to getting knocked on their backsides by skyscrapers who double as forwards.

Fortunately for the Edmonton Energy, they have a number of big bodies to bang around with this season. Few are bigger and more affective then Skouson Harker, who joined the team after another stint playing professionally in Great Britain.

"He's from Raymond," said Energy head coach Paul Sir prior to last nights 144-119 victory over the Vancouver Titans at MacEwan College. "I'm very happy to have him on the team because Raymond is a special place in Canada. Their accomplishments in athletics are legendary.

"He's a hard-nosed, competitive player, willing to do anything to win. What's great about Skouson is along with that determination and willingness to win, he has the skills to go with it."

In Friday's home opener, the six-foot-eight, 240-pound forward scored 23 points as the Energy won the first game of the two-game series.

Nearly all of them were within a few feet of the basket where they're always a physical price to pay.

Last night, he was just as effective finishing with a game-high 30 points.

"He gives us that athletic inside presence," Sir said.

"He's light on his feet, but he's strong enough that he can finish even when there is a big body being put on him. He's not reluctant to draw and initiate contact, which from a post player's standpoint, it's essential to be successful."

A graduate of Raymond high school, Harker, 31, attended Utah Valley Junior College before moving on to the University of Oregon.

He then went to play professionally in Germany before ending up in Britain where he's a player-coach with the Worcester Wolves.

"He contacted me, he wanted to come play here," Sir said. "He never thought he would have the opportunity to play professionally in Alberta. So when he saw the website, he got in touch with me. I think he was the first player to get in touch with me."

Sir gets literally hundred of calls and e-mails from players who are looking for an opportunity to play with the Energy. Currently there are 10 players on the roster while they await forwards Jermaine Bucknor and Rashaun Broadus.

Harker is one of the few players on the team the year who was not around last year with the Chill. He's a welcomed addition this year.

"He can shoot the ball, he can step out and shoot the three (pointer)," Sir said. "He can shoot it off the bounce pass, he's got a nice jump shot. He can take it to the basket and he post up with his back to the basket and go to the hoop. He also rebounds well and he defends well. I look at Skouson as having a complete presence on the floor."

Being from Raymond, it's only natural Harker would be a strong athlete. The community located in southern Alberta has an ability to produce provincial powers despite it's small population.

"They won 4A in men's and women's basketball and football this year," Sir said. "It's just an incredible story. They have a number of athletes that have gone on to play in the CFL. It's a tradition unlike any other in the province."

Harker's inside game compliments the Energy's ability to shoot the ball from distance well.

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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