A love of basketball has taken Ransford Brempong ’05 around the world. The 37-year-old father of three who played in professional leagues in Germany and the Netherlands and for Canada’s national team after his WCU career is back home in Canada, making a full-time career of teaching basketball skills to young people. Brempong hopes to elevate his beloved sport in his native country. “I feel blessed every day to still have a ball in my hand,” he said. “I love basketball. It’s my one passion that’s shown me everything. I owe a lot to the game.”
Originally from Toronto, Brempong came to the states 20 years ago to play for WCU. He knew little about U.S. universities at the time. “WCU was my first and only recruit visit. I ended up signing before the end of the weekend,” he said. He quickly became a standout on the WCU men’s basketball team, finishing his career with 836 points and 660 rebounds. He had 308 blocked shots from 2000-05 and still leads in that category, 19 years after graduating. He ranks second in blocked shots in Southern Conference record books.
While attending WCU, Brempong met and later married another Canadian recruit, Felicity Ribalkin, who played on the women’s volleyball team. After WCU, Brempong went on to play professional basketball for six years in Germany and the Netherlands. He later played for eight years on Canada’s national basketball team, including in the qualifier in Athens, Greece, for the 2008 Olympics.
Adversity struck five years ago when he was in an accident while driving between Vancouver and Whistler and suffered a broken back. After a slow and painful recovery process, he made a comeback, playing Pro-Am basketball in Seattle. Then, despite being an older player, he was recruited last year by the professional Canadian team St. John’s Edge to play in the final four months of its season. “It was an experience I will always cherish to have that one last moment in time to play again on a competitive level, and also to have my wife and kids in the stands cheering me on,” he said.
Nowadays, Brempong is focused on growing basketball fervor and more fans for the sport in British Columbia. He is the founder of Westcoast Training, a skills development company, and 3PointBasketball, an after-school program held in more than 10 elementary schools. He also leads basketball academies, coaches a junior high school team, and operates a tall player camp and other basketball camps for young people. “The idea is the sooner we can get a basketball in these kids’ hands the more the game will continue to expand and evolve out here in Vancouver,” he said.