U Sports Basketball: Regional drafting highlights 2020 CEBL U Sports Draft

Toronto, ON- The sports world is silent, there are no pucks being slapped, no balls being kicked or bats being cracked, but while the action is on pause, the administrative measures continue on.

U Sports, after being silent since wrapping its multi-sport season up a couple of weeks ago had a moment in the spotlight, as 21 players were drafted into the Canadian Elite Basketball League; the professional league entering its second season of competition.

The Carleton Ravens, who have been a powerhouse in U Sport hoops for a long time had no players selected in the 2019 draft ahead of the CEBL’s inaugural season. However, much of that can be attributed to the age of their lineup; this year, with more players eligible, many more Carleton players were selected.

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Tajinder Lall of Carleton was selected first overall to the Ottawa Blackjacks (U Sports)

Four Ravens were selected of the 21 players, and 3 of them went to hometown and expansion Ottawa Blackjacks. The expansion side stuck to two expected measures in the draft executions- first of all, their head coach formerly was with the Ravens and has an affinity that cannot be matched. That being said, a coach’s affinity is not enough to overlook better talent.

A common thing that has happened in both the U Sports CEBL draft, as well as the U Sports Canadian Premier League soccer draft, is that professional clubs are often drafting from their local universities. That’s the second point which makes the 3 Blackjacks selection from Carleton make sense. Although the Blackjacks were the only team to pick purely out of their local school, 13 of the 21 selection veered in a similar fashion.

One of the picks that stands out among the rest in regards to school location and where he was drafted to, is fourth overall pick Sascha Kappos, who is going all the way from Dalhousie in Halifax, to Edmonton to suit up for the Stingers. Kappos did launch himself into the national spotlight when he led his Tigers to the U Sports national championship in Ottawa, where he was being watched closely from anyone involved in the CEBL, although that’s the case, the out of province selection by the Stingers is a certain standout.

Net success - Dal News - Dalhousie University
Kappos being interviewed by now retired CBC broadcaster Rick Mercer in 2018 (CBC: The Rick Mercer Report)

Kappos was the only out of province selection in the first round, but not the only one in this year’s draft class. The second pick came in round 2, where Rashawn Browne of the Manitoba Bisons was selected to the Saskatchewan Rattlers. The Rattlers, who won the inaugural season had back to back selection and used their first on Saskatchewan Huskie Chan de Ciman. However, in Browne, they are getting a player with both U Sports and NCAA experience. Browne is coming off a year where he led the Bisons to their best season in school history and was also named a first-team all-star in Canada West. Although he was an out of province pick, he was still selected in the geographical region of his collegiate conference, meaning the CEBL team was able to get a fair idea of what he brings to the table.

Also in the second round, Prince Kamunga was plucked from the York Lions to play with the Edmonton Stingers. The Stingers went out of province on all three of their selection, but Kamiunga was the only one from the OUA. in 18 games with the Lions this season, Kamunga averaged 18.7 points per game, and was one of the key components of the Toronto school’s offence.

The Stingers also went out of province on their third and final pick, as they selected a teammate of Kappos’ from the Dalhousie Tigers to compliment their first-round selection. Their third-rounder, by the name of Xavier Ochu, brings a defensive quality to Edmonton. He was the AUS defensive player of the year and helped the Tigers to the national final where they fell to Carleton.

Two teams, and two completely different selection strategies. It’s unclear as to whether the out of province selection strategy of the Stingers is indicative of a deeper and more widespread scouting network, or just their ability to evaluate players better from their location.

On the other side, the Blackjacks are the new kids on the block and are sticking to guys they have watched a lot, those being the players of the Carleton Ravens.

It will take a training camp and season to see where and if these players are to fit into their new CEBL sides, but all of that is undecided right now as the world attempts to get through the tough period it’s in, ruled by COVID-19.

Featured Graphic: U Sports/CEBL Communications

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