CEBL Notebook #2: Top five U SPORTS players so far

St.Catharines,ON- The CEBL Summer Series is fully underway, with each team having played at least a pair of games in St. Catharines. The newly-incorporated Elam Ending has definitely been a hit, while the expansion Ottawa Blackjacks are still searching for their first-ever win. Games haven’t been too close, yet they have provided plenty of entertainment across the country. Here are some more former U SPORTS guys who have impressed in the early going:

1. Rashawn Browne: G, Saskatchewan Rattlers (Manitoba, 2017-2020)

After finishing up a successful collegiate career, Browne made his professional debut on Sunday against Niagara and wasted no time making an impact. He hit a three on his first ever possession, finished a tough layup through contact and hit a turnaround jumper at the first quarter buzzer. He was a bit jumpy on defense, biting at pump fakes and lunging at crossovers, but that’s to be expected when playing your first pro game. He was a plus-15 in just over 20 minutes of action and only turned the ball over once. The clip below sums up his debut nicely; he catches his man sleeping on a backdoor cut before finding a wide open Kevin Bracy-Davis underneath for an easy lay in. Then on the subsequent Niagara possession, a defensive mishap by Browne leaves Kassius Robertson wide open for a three.

Again, first pro game, some jitters are to be expected, but Browne’s first couple games bodes really well for the Rattlers moving forward. He has a smooth offensive game and can score at will against older and more experienced defenders. He should be a lock in Saskatchewan’s rotation in the days to come. 

Oh yeah — he did this too:

2. JV Mukama: F, Hamilton Honey Badgers (Ryerson, 2013-2019)

Mukama finished up a terrific five-year career at Ryerson and now finds himself starting for his hometown team. The Hamilton native is a perfect guy to slot in next to the ball-dominant guards that the Honey Badgers employ. Guys like Briante Weber and Duane Notice are going to have the ball in their hands most of the time, and rightfully so; those guys have tons of NCAA, G-League, and in Weber’s case, NBA, experience. Mukama is a really nice 3-and-D guy to accompany Weber and Notice (he shot 38 percent from deep his final year at Ryerson) whose super long wingspan and reach makes him a really tough matchup for smaller wings. His length gives him more wiggle room to gamble defensively, he can recover quicker than most, especially on closeouts. Hamilton has a loaded roster and should be a favourite to win the whole thing come August. Mukama should be an important piece of that puzzle.

3. Jordan Baker, F: Edmonton Stingers (Alberta, 2009-2014)

Profile: Former Golden Bears basketball all-star Jordan Baker ...

Baker is one of the older former U SPORTS players in the league, yet has been an integral part of a Stingers lineup that is loaded with U SPORTS talent up front. Along with Brody Clarke and rookie Sascha Kappos (who is likely to make an appearance on this list at some point), Baker really is the heart and soul of this team. The tandem of Baker and reigning MVP Xavier Moon is a really good combo, as both guys play to each other’s strengths — Moon breaks down defenders and scores at will, while Baker is constantly moving on offence doing all the little things. I haven’t seen anyone set more screens than Baker, who has hit a couple threes off of pick-and-pops so far. He boxes out with the best of them and is not afraid to get physical down low. After scoring just four points in the Stingers’ first game, he bounced back with a terrific 20-point, 14-rebound, five assist performance against Ottawa.

4. Philip Scrubb, G: Ottawa Blackjacks (Carleton, 2010-2015)

No surprises here, but Philip Scrubb continues to put up big numbers in Ottawa. The Blackjacks/Ravens are still searching for their first win, but Scrubb has excelled in his first two games in the CEBL. He has hit seven of his 12 three-point attempts and finished with 20 points, five assists and five steals in the game against Edmonton. Scrubb is so silky smooth off the dribble and is an ambidextrous finisher, as shown here:

The Blackjacks are winless as of now, but that isn’t likely to remain for long. With half the team having played for Carleton, their roster is full of winners. Expect them to bounce back soon.

5. Adika Peter-McNielly: G, Edmonton Stingers (Ryerson, 2013-2017)

Peter-McNeilly named First-Team All-Canadian - Ryerson University
(Ryerson Rams Athletic Dept.)

Peter-McNielly has given Edmonton some really nice minutes off the bench so far, logging just over 27 minutes of action in each of his first two games. He can score when need be, hitting six of 14 of his shots for 18 points in the Stingers first game against Fraser Valley, and is a rock-solid ball handler — all in all he is a really solid backup for Xavier Moon. He can play off the ball just as well, as a good chunk of his minutes were played with Moon on the floor, which gives the Stingers more flexibility in terms of lineups. Moon was not quite 100 percent against Ottawa too; if he has to miss some games down the road or just reduce his workload for whatever reason, expect Peter-McNielly’s role to increase.

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