Jordyn Cullum of the VSS Panthers has signed a scholarship agreement with the UBC Okanagan Heat for next university hoop season.

Heat lock up Cullum for five years

Jordyn Cullum as signed an attractive scholarship with the UBO Okanagan Heat of the CIS Explorer Division for next season.

Gym rat. Basketball junkie. Hoop fanatic.

Jordyn Cullum is all of the above and more as she aims to drive the Vernon Panthers back to the B.C. Senior AAA Girls Basketball Championships in 2016.

Cullum’s contagious Duracell smile will be even brighter on the journey since she has signed an attractive scholarship with the UBO Okanagan Heat of the CIS Explorer Division for next season.

She is stoked about playing for head coach Claire Meadows – in her rookie season – and Vernon’s Bobby Mitchell – in his third year as the Heat assistant. She has attended some informal shoot-arounds in Kelowna.

“I narrowed it down to UVic and UBCO and it was literally the hardest decision of my life,” said the amiable Cullum. “I made such a great connection with the team and the coaches. Bobby and Claire are so awesome; I adore them. She’s (Meadows) doing a great job.”

A 6-foot-1 guard/forward, Cullum was born in Prince George and grew up in Vanderhoof until her family moved to Vernon for her Grade 9 year. She started hoops in elementary school.

Cullum will be joined by fellow freshman Emma Jonas of the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers of Surrey. The two became friends in Team B.C. trials and tournament play, helping Team B.C. to fourth spot at a national U17 event in Edmonton last summer.

‘Emma was my billet in Surrey for U16 and U17 so we’re a little bit like sisters,” beamed Cullum.

Cullum rang up 77 points in four games as the Panthers placed 12th at the provincial senior AA championships last year in Langley without ailing starter Jordan Korol, a freshman averaging 16.8 minutes and three points a game with the Heat.

Mitchell, a former assistant with the Panthers, has witnessed Cullum’s act with the UBCO Junior Heat and various camps.

“It’s her work ethic,” said Mitchell, when asked what sets Cullum apart from others. “She’s relentless; she’s one of the hardest working kids I’ve seen in a long time.”

Mitchell says Cullum will expand her game at the CIS level while giving the Heat a match-up made in Heaven.

“She’s super versatile, She’ll be able to play all over the floor and guard all over it as well.”

Cullum, who attacks the rim like it’s free money, expects to see minutes at forward and is willing to play and shoot from anywhere to help the Heat win.

VSS head coach Lonny Mazurak has guided Cullum since junior and totally understands why the Heat recruited her.

“It was two things,” said Mazuruk. “She really gets along well with Bobby and Claire; they have a very good relationship which is great since she committed for five years.

“Part of it was to stay local. She will get the opportunity to have a bigger impact earlier on than in a larger program where you can wait a year or two to get some early minutes.

“They like her ability to score in a variety of ways. She can knock down a three, she can post up and she’s very hard working and likeable. She’s so much fun to be around. It’s not work to her to come to the gym in the morning with her dad. Being six-one, she will be able to run the floor and shoot threes.”

Cullum’s father, Warren, played basketball for the University of Victoria Vikings. Mom Debbie started for the Malaspina College Mariners in Nanaimo.

Mitchell and Mazuruk coached against Warren when the Cullums were in Vanderhoof. Mitchell believes Korol’s presence will help ease Cullum’s transition to university ball.

“Having Jordan Korol here will be very important for Jordyn. Jordan has adjusted nicely. It’s a grind with two-a-days, but she’s on the right path.”

Cullum will study the arts, taking Engish and psychology with an eye on becoming a speech pathologist. She is averaging close to 30 points a game with VSS.

Jonas, meanwhile, was named to the Surrey FireFighters All Star Team, was awarded Most Dedicated on her team, and recorded a 30-point game that included five three-pointers, last year with Lord Tweedsmuir.

Two years ago, she and Cullum propelled Team B.C. to a silver medal at the  Western Canada Championships.

“I think I will be ready for university basketball,” Jonas told UBCO Athletics. “I have been lifting for almost a year and I already notice how much of a difference being stronger makes on the court. A lot of the older university players are really solid, so hopefully I will be able to keep up with them.”

Vernon’s Emily Kanester, a starting senior guard with UBCO, is averaging 28.9 minutes and 12.3 points a game with the Heat.

UBCO is 5-3 and play Tuesday, Dec. 29 against the SAIT Trojans of Calgary (6 p.m. at the North Kelowna Campus Gym). The same two teams meet the next day at 2 p.m. The Heat host the Thompson Rivers WolfPack for a pair, Jan. 8-9.

 

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