Tamiya Ness and Sadie McMillan-Stowards set a goal of playing university basketball and a change in leadership with the Winnipeg Wesmen wasn't going to change their plans.

Ness, a 5-foot-9 guard, and McMillan-Stowards, a 6-foot-2 forward, who have played the last two seasons with the Camosun College Mustangs of the PacWest conference, have signed on to join the Wesmen women's basketball program as the latest members of the 2022 recruiting class.

McMillan-Stowards will study Biology and Ness Biochemistry, and both players will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Both players verbally committed to the Wesmen prior to Tanya McKay's decision to step down as head coach earlier this month, but that decision didn't derail their commitment to the program.

"Throughout that whole (recruiting) process I was getting myself prepared to make the move to Winnipeg," McMillan-Stowards said. "I'm fully happy with the decision that I made and I don't want to go back on that. Winnipeg and the Wesmen are still an amazing program, so I'm definitely still excited to go there even though Tanya isn't the coach. I totally understand she has to move on and there will someone else great who will step up into that position."

Ness is a product of Smithers Secondary in Smithers, B.C., while McMillan-Stowards stayed in her hometown of Victoria to play for Camosun after graduating Oak Bay High School in 2019. 

At Camosun, they were teammates of former Wesmen Chelsea Espenberg. 

Ness led the conference in rebounding with 10.9 per game, while scoring 7.4 points per contest on her way to being named second-team all-conference.

"One of my strengths in college was being versatile and I can play a variety of positions," Ness said. "I can handle the ball, but also hold my own a bit in the post. I'm gonna work hard and leave it all on the floor there."

Ness said she is excited for a chance to take another leap in her basketball career.

"It's been such a big difference in my life being able to play basketball and do school at the same time," Ness said. "And I'm really excited to be able to continue to play for Winnipeg and go to the next level."

The players' commitment to Winnipeg owes in some part to Camosun head coach Justin Thiessen, a born-and-raised Manitoban who grew up in the Brandon area, and helped with linking the players back to his home province.

"At the start of this year one of my goals was to leave Camosun and go play for a U Sports school," said McMillan-Stowards, whose education at Camosun was winding down this year. "Me and Justin, we reached out to a bunch of schools to see where I could play, the different offers they were giving. Winnipeg had an awesome program and great school as well so that's ultimately why I decided there."

McMillan-Stowards averaged 6.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game and plays as a stretch-forward who isn't shy to shoot it. She hit at least one three-pointer in 11 out of 18 conference games last season.

"The last three years at Camosun I think I've grown a lot as a person," McMillan-Stowards said. "… I think I've grown more as a person and I'm ready for new opportunities and there's going to be a lot of opportunity for growth there that I'm excited for."

While McKay won't have a hand in their careers now, she's nevertheless still sold on their place in the Wesmen program.

"Sadie and Tamiya bring experience and readiness for next season," McKay said. "Their college experience has been outstanding under Justin. They are skilled, hard-working, and are competitive players ready to jump to the U Sports level.  I'm excited to watch what they do in the Wesmen program."

Thiessen called McMillan-Stowards the "anchor of our defence" and Ness the "Swiss army knife" of the team.

"Sadie is the type of person who doesn't say much but when she does, everyone stops and listens," Thiessen said. "Her attitude and work ethic exude everything our program is about … and at a long 6-foot-2, she's a very difficult puzzle for any offensive player to solve.

"For three years Tamiya has been our Swiss army knife, playing and defending (positions) one through four. Her versatility provides stability. She's an exceptional teammate who lives in the weight room, is an All-Canadian in the classroom, and pushes her teammates to be better with her competitiveness."

Source: https://wesmen.ca/general/2021-22/releases/20220425iy69xr

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