Dylan Marsden accepting a framed jersey from Camosun Chargers coach Scot Cuachon to mark the end of an unlikely but storied college basketball career. (Submitted)

An ‘unlikely’ college basketball player enters next chapter with Camosun

Ex-Charger leads All Island Invite Camp for top 65 Island hoops players

It’s come to an end but there will always be something curious about Dylan Marsden’s five year basketball playing career with the Camosun Chargers.

His career started with four failed attempts to get noticed at the Chargers annual spring identification and tryout camp. After graduating from Gulf Islands Secondary School on Salt Spring, Marsden attended the Chargers camp at 18, 19, 20, and 21 years of age. Needless to say, he wasn’t going away, and coach Scot Cuachon, who was still new to the team, took a chance on inviting Marsden to continue practicing with the team throughout the spring and summer when Marsden was 22.

A rare number of injuries and dropouts led to Marsden making the roster as a 23-year-old rookie.

“Even then, I was already older than most of the players in the league,” Marsden said.

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Last month Marsden finished on a high note winning provincial bronze with the Chargers and also contributing to the team’s first win over the V.I.U. Mariners in 12 years.

It ended one of the most interesting playing careers, but has also launched the next phase of Marsden’s working career in which he’s running development camps through Passion Sports’ basketball program.

It’s part of Marsden’s goal of sharing his knowledge and experience with teenager players now that his playing career is done.

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It starts with this weekend’s All Island Invite Camp that Marsden organizes through Passion Sports’ basketball youth program. Sixty-five of the Island’s best players in Grade 9 to 11 are invited to the three day event held at St. Michaels University School. Guest coaches such as Cuachon, Avneet Brar (VIU Mariners assistant coach) and former UVic Vike Chris Marsh (Vic High, and pro player) run skills development sessions in the morning. Afternoons feature a round robin tournament, with a current Vikes or Chargers player acting as coach of each team, that culminates with the final at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

“It’s all designed to have the players going into Grades 10, 11 and 12 to learn more about playing at the next level,” said Marsden, who will continue with the Chargers as an assistant coach.

“I want to help create opportunities for kids,” he added. “It was a tough ride for me, not and ideal route. If I had more connections I think it would have had an easier time to make it to the next level.”

One piece of advice Marsden would have given his 18 year old self is to walk straight up to the coach at an identification camp and introduce himself.

“At my first camp I was nervous and I hung out in the corner. In high school I didn’t know anything about college or the Chargers. A lot of what I will share is simple stuff.”

Later, Marsden met a player on the Chargers and asked him lots of questions.

Even once he made the Chargers Marsden admits he “wasn’t all that great of a player.”

He played a couple minutes per game in his first few years but then found Chris Marsh and they worked twice a week all summer on his skills.

“That brought me to a level I where was able to earn more playing time,” Marsden said.

He became a top three-point shooter in the league, was starting half the games, and eventually helped end the curse by beating the VIU Mariners and get bronze in provincials.

“It was a great end for something I didn’t think I’d do,” he said. “At 6-4, I didn’t have anything special to my game, and at 22, there’s not a lot of potential in your game. Cuachon valued the person over the player and that worked for me.”

Back from a two-year hiatus, this is the 10th anniversary of the All Island Invite Camp that started in 2009.

The AIIC tournament final at 2 p.m. Sunday is open to the public. The camp also has dunk, three point and defensive competitions and the winners are listed on the AIIC’s hall of fame, which now features plenty of the 72 alumni that have gone on to play at the collegiate level.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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