St.Catharines, ON- With the 2020 CEBL Summer Series coming to an end on Sunday, basketball fans across the country celebrated the success of the league’s second season, as Canadians not only got to watch great basketball being played by teams that represented their hometowns, but also got to see some of their favourite U SPORTS players and alumni make their mark on the world of professional basketball. In celebration of the season that was, here are the Top 5 U SPORTS moments of the 2020 CEBL Summer Series.
#5: Jean-Victor Mukama Puts Hamilton On His Back
The CEBL season began on Opening Day with a highly anticipated matchup between the Niagara River Lions and the Hamilton Honey Badgers, a game that Niagara won rather handily in what seemed to be a statement to the league at the time. As the season wore on, however, both teams struggled to meet their own lofty expectations and ended up facing each other once again in the quarterfinals. With the Opening Day loss from less than two weeks earlier no doubt still fresh in his mind, Hamilton’s Jean-Victor Mukama seemingly decided that he wouldn’t allow the Honey Badgers to lose to Niagara once again. The former Ryerson Ram took over the game, scoring 23 points and pulling down 8 rebounds in a narrow Hamilton victory. The crown jewel of Mukama’s performance came on a massive three-pointer in Elam Ending time, one that put Hamilton ahead by 4 and set up Briante Weber’s game-winning layup. Although Hamilton wasn’t able to advance past the semis, Mukama’s big day gave them a playoff win, and showed the league that the Ryerson alumni can still score with the best of them.
#4: Jordan Baker Owns the Paint Against Ottawa
When the Edmonton Stingers met the Ottawa BlackJacks early in the regular season, it was former University of Alberta star Jordan Baker who made the biggest impact against Ottawa and their roster full of Carleton University legends. The big man took a smaller BlackJacks team to task, scoring 20 points on just 11 shots, and also pulling down 14 rebounds to record the double-double. Ottawa struggled to contain the size and strength of the former Golden Bear, and as a result he played a major role in Edmonton’s 7 point victory, the beginning of a winning streak that lasted the rest of the season, setting the Stingers up as the best team in the league for their eventual playoff push. While Baker had several brilliant performances throughout the 2020 Summer Series, this one against a pre-season favourite set the tone for Edmonton’s season and showed the league that Baker was set up to be a dominant force once again.
#3: The Scrubb Bros. Arrive In Canada
The Ottawa BlackJacks were the CEBL’s lone expansion team for the 2020 season, but no one was counting them out after they assembled a squad filled with Canadian talent and championship pedigree. The BlackJacks also grabbed attention thanks to their high concentration of Carleton alumni, chief among them the brother duo of Philip and Thomas Scrubb. Long known as two of the best players to ever play U SPORTS basketball, the Scrubb brothers wasted no time showing the league how they made their reputations. Although Philip unfortunately had to leave the team early, both he and Thomas still gave Canadian basketball fans a glimpse of what they had been missing with the brothers playing primarily in Europe since their university days. Thomas emerged as a leader for the BlackJacks, finishing 5th in the league in scoring while providing leadership and great defence, while Philip averaged 16 points a game during his brief stay, and shot 63% from the three point line. Although Ottawa, saddled by injuries and departing players, weren’t able to realize their championship expectations, the performances of the two brothers still showed fans why the two are considered members of the gold standard of U SPORTS alumni.
#2: Myles Charvis Returns to the Court
One of the more popular players to graduate from U SPORTS in the last five years, Myles Charvis’ story drew plenty of praise and strong emotion after he was featured on the CEBL YouTube channel. The former Ryerson and Windsor guard suffered a career-threating injury late last year, only months after completing a 2019 CEBL season that saw him emerge as a star for the Guelph Nighthawks. Luckily for fans all across the league, Charvis’ hard work and dedication enabled him to overcome the injury, and return to the court for Guelph in time for the 2020 tournament. His first appearance since the injury saw him play a big role off of the bench in a Guelph win over Ottawa, and he continued to fill an important role for the Nighthawks all year, leading them to a playoff berth after finishing 2nd last in the league just a season ago.
#1: The Edmonton Stingers Win the Championship With Tons of U SPORTS Talent
All year, the Edmonton Stingers looked like the team to beat in the CEBL, and aside from a loss in their first game of the season to Fraser Valley, no team ever did manage to beat them. Edmonton went 5-1 in the regular season, securing the #1 seed for the playoffs, and then beat Ottawa in the semi-finals before avenging their only loss and besting Fraser Valley on their way to being crowned the 2020 CEBL Champions. Although American superstar Xavier Moon drew most of the headlines, the Stingers featured 7 different U SPORTS alumni on their roster, and were also lead by a U SPORTS alumni, as head coach and GM Jermaine Small served as an assistant for Ryerson from 2011-2014 and Queen’s from 2014-2019. The Stingers bench was stocked with U SPORTS talent, as players like Dalhousie alumni Sascha Kappos and Xavier Ochu were joined by former Calgary Dino Mambi Diawara, and former University of Lethbridge guard Zac Overwater to form a group that didn’t play many minutes, but were still integral to the team. It was a trio of U SPORTS alumni that played a major role in the championship, however, as former Ryerson Ram Adika Peter-McNeilly joined a pair of Golden Bears legends in Jordan Baker and Brody Clarke to help lead Edmonton to the 2nd ever CEBL Championship, showing the rest of the league that it is more than possible to win with U SPORTS talent.
COVER PHOTO: RYAN McCULOUGH/CEBL