Nice guys finish first

DAVID CAMERON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

This time Tyler Ennis didn't have far to go.

The Medicine Hat Tigers sniper flew here to his hometown the morning after winning gold with the Team Canada juniors in January to play the Oil Kings.

He just had to go down the street, so to speak, to the AgriCom yesterday to collect his second-straight WHL Most Sportsmanlike award.

"Two years beating out the same guy, (Kelowna's) Colin Long, so he's probably a little crushed," he said.

Maybe they should've duked it out for the prize.

"I had my first fight this year," Ennis laughed. "Against (Kootenay's Ian) Barteaux, who's up for Humanitarian of the Year."

The Fort Saskatchewan native Barteaux finished runner-up to Tri-City's Taylor Procyshen.

"For my size (Ennis is listed at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds) and his size (6-foot, 195 pounds), I think I did all right."

Ennis himself didn't go through the process of today's bantam draft.

He was listed by Oil Kings GM Bob Green, who was working for Medicine Hat at the time.

"I wasn't drafted and I was thinking about going to college," said Ennis. "I played well in midget and (Green) was a scout for the Tigers and he liked me and listed me."

Green also listed other Edmonton players, like Joffrey Lupul and Jason Chimera, for the Tigers.

While he took those players from here to there, Green said he doesn't envision the difficulties at the junior level that hometowners can have playing in the fishbowl of the Oilers and the NHL.

"We've got a good number of local kids playing here and they really like it," said Green.

"And I think the fans in Edmonton understand we're at a development level, that these are kids and they respect that.

"I think, for local kids growing up coming to this building and watching the Oilers - and, as we move along, with the Oil Kings - I think they'll want to come and play here even more."

Famous son intriguing

It's not unusual for the son of a former professional to follow a similar athletic path as the old man.

What is a little bit different - maybe unique - about Seth Jones is that he's on skates while dad plied his trade on the hardcourt.

Ronald (Popeye) Jones was a Toronto Raptor in 1996-97 after playing in Dallas the first three seasons of his 11-year NBA career.

Seth was captain of his Triple A Dallas Stars bantam team this past season and is eligible for today's draft.

"I've seen the dad before," said Vancouver Giants director of player personnel Jason Ripplinger about 6-foot-8 Popeye.

"(Seth) is already 6-foot-3, maybe 6-foot-4, and he might even grow another four or five inches. Who knows?

"I saw him in Salt Lake City. He's a big, strong guy that skates well, can move the puck, plays physical. And thinks the game well," said Ripplinger yesterday.

With top-pick projection, Jones is the wild card in the draft. Although there has been a recent influx of American talent to western major junior (mostly from California, as is the Giants' Jonathan Blum, named yesterday as the the Dub's D-man of the year) availability is the key, with U.S. college scholarships a tasty treat.

"That's always the issue," said Ripplinger.

"I guess (the Joneses) are willing to come to a training camp for whomever drafts him, but apparently they aren't willing to sign anything yet, keeping their options open."

They might be waiting to see which is the quickest way to the basket.


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