NAME: Eli Pasquale (Class of 2020-21)
YEARS ACTIVE: 1979-1984
Five-time national champion
Five-time Canada West champion
Led Canada to gold at 1983 Universiade
15 years on the Canadian national team
Accomplishments are often overstated with time, but when it comes to Eli Pasquale it seems his remarkable university basketball career simply can't be matched.
Called "the face of UVic basketball" by legendary head coach Ken Shields, Pasquale knew nothing but winning over his five seasons with the Vikes.
Beginning with the 1979-80 season, he helped guide the Vikes to five consecutive national titles, along with five conference crowns, as Victoria went a combined 75-5 in Canada West regular season play during his career.
“It came together at the right time and right place,” said Pasquale in 2014. “It was a combination of Ken Shields and the nucleus of players who gathered at UVic. I had a combination that enabled me to develop. Ken was great on the technical aspects and [late Canadian Olympic team coach Jack Donohue] was the motivator.”
While with the Vikes, Pasquale also helped author one of the greatest moments in Canadian basketball history at the 1983 Universiade in Edmonton. It was there where the host Canadians scored a seemingly improbable gold medal, downing a heavily favoured United States team — which featured future hall of famers Charles Barkley and Karl Malone — in the semifinals before defeating Yugoslavia in the gold-medal game.
Following that remarkable feat, Pasquale returned to Victoria for the 1983-84 season, and proceeded to lead Victoria to his fifth and final national title, while also being named the nation's top player. In the spring of 1984 he was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics 106th overall in the fifth round of the 1984 NBA Draft, before going onto play professionally in both North America and Europe.
In total, Pasquale was a key part of Canada's basketball success on the international stage, spending 15 years with the national program. In addition to his win at the 1983 Universiade, he also earned bronze with Canada at the 1985 Universiade, and competed at two Olympic Games (1984 LA and 1988 Seoul), two PanAm Games and four World Championships.
Among his many honours, Pasquale is a member of the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame (2003), Basketball BC Hall of Fame (2004), and Victoria Sports Hall of Fame (2014). In 2005 his No. 13 was retired by the Vikes.
In the fall of 2019, Pasquale died of cancer at the age of 59.
Written by Evan Daum.