St. Catharines,ON- As the CEBL Summer Series continues, U SPORTS players both past and present are continuing to entertain Canadian basketball fans all the way from Fraser Valley to Ottawa and beyond. With the Guelph Nighthawks currently tied with the Edmonton Stingers atop the league, players from universities across the country have made their marks on the CEBL season. Here are five “U SPORTS Names Making Noise” over the past couple days in St Catharine’s.
Lloyd Pandi, F, Ottawa BlackJacks (Carleton, 2018-Present)
Named to the Ottawa roster after star guard Philip Scrubb had to leave the team due to a conflict with his European club, Pandi wasted no time getting acclimated to the pro game in Ottawa’s first win on Thursday. The reigning U SPORTS Rookie of the Year had big shoes to help fill for the BlackJacks, but was able to make an instant impact with the kind of hard-nosed, gritty, play that has already enamoured him to Ottawa basketball fans after his rookie season with the Ravens. Pandi played almost 20 minutes off the bench in his debut, putting up 8 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and even 2 steals in an all-around game that coach Osvaldo Jeanty will certainly be hoping can help Ottawa get back on track.
Myles Charvis, G, Guelph Nighthawks (Waterloo 2013-15, Ryerson 2016-19)
The former Ryerson standout was a big part of the Nighthawks last season, scoring more than 15 points-per-game off of the bench for the team from the Royal City. Charvis’ numbers haven’t been at quite the same level since the Nighthawks added more scorers this offseason, but he’s remained a big part of the Nighthawks strong start to the 2020 Summer Series. Charvis has brought his trademark energy and hustle off the bench for Guelph, and his play has been big for head coach Charles Kissi, as he keeps Guelph’s compete level high when the starters need a rest. Charvis’ smooth adaptation to a supporting role has been a key aspect of Guelph’s unexpected surge to the top of the standings, and he’ll remain important to them as the tournament pushes on.
Ammanuel Diressa, G, Hamilton Honey Badgers (Ryerson, 2015-18)
An alumni of the basketball excellence factory that was Eastern Commerce in Toronto, Diressa was signed to the Honey Badgers as a free agent following a standout career with the Rams. The former Wilson Cup MVP broke out in Hamilton’s most recent game, a close loss to the Edmonton Stingers. Diressa scored 11 points off the bench for the Honey Badgers, knocking down 2 of his 4 long range attempts and adding 3 made free throws. Diressa had struggled from three point range up to this point, going 1-6 in both of Hamilton’s first two games. Wednesday’s display was no doubt a welcome sight both for Hamilton fans and supporters of Diressa from his Ryerson days, both of whom are hoping to see the former star shake off his bumpy beginnings and show Canada the player they know and love. With the Honey Badgers still believing in their team despite a slow start, Diressa’s strong game against the Stingers is something that they’ll need to see replicated as the season continues into its second half.
Guillaume Payen-Boucard, F, Niagara River Lions (Carleton, 2011-16)
The defending CEBL Canadian Player of the Year, Payen-Boucard was reunited with his former Ravens teammate Ryan Ejim this off-season, as the River Lions set their sights on bringing home a championship. Their 1-3 start has cast those aspirations into some doubt, especially after Niagara failed to build on a solid Opening Day win over Hamilton. Payen-Boucard struggled over the next two Niagara losses, but his improvement in their fourth game led to a much more competitive matchup. While the scoring has dipped this season, Payen-Boucard has still supplied rebounding and defence in spades for the River Lions. He will have to improve his scoring soon, however, if Niagara wants to salvage their season.
Johnny Berhanemeskel, G, Ottawa BlackJacks (University of Ottawa, 2010-15)
Another BlackJack who will be looked to after the departure of Philip Scrubb, Berhanemeskel elevated his game to another level in Ottawa’s first win in franchise history on Thursday. The former Gee-Gee had played well as a scoring guard in Ottawa’s first two games, but he showed a glimpse of his true potential in the win over the Fraser Valley Bandits. Berhanemeskel scored 19 points, including the game-winning free throw, and even pulled down 5 rebounds for good measure. As the BlackJacks search for shooting and ball distribution after the departure of one of their star players, Berhanemeskel made an early case for himself as a player capable of stepping up to fill the void, and even take on a leadership role for Ottawa as they seek to build off of their first victory and string together some wins.