Ben Steiner, with contributions from Luke Dyment
Toronto, ON – The 2021 CEBL U SPORTS Draft is in the books, as the league announced the results of the annual university draft on Wednesday afternoon.
The seven teams selected three players each through three rounds in inverse order of their finish in the 2020 CEBL Summer Series. The Saskatchewan Rattlers held the first overall selection.
Players selected in the U SPORTS Draft can sign full professional contracts with CEBL franchises or choose to sign a U SPORTS Developmental Contract, which allows athletes to compete in the CEBL’s summer season before returning to U SPORTS action in the fall.
The 2021 CEBL season begins on June 5.
ROUND 1 -PICK 1: Nervens Demosthene (Bishop’s)
The Saskatchewan Rattlers used their first overall pick to select 6’2” guard Nervens Demosthene out of Bishop’s University. Through three years at Bishop’s, Demosthene has played 54 games, averaging 13.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists.
From Terrebonne, Quebec, Demosthene was the 2019-20 Bishop’s Gaiters Athlete of the Year and earned RSEQ first-team all-star honours.
ROUND 2/3: Alex Dewar (Saskatchewan) + Tyres Potoma (Saskatchewan)
While the Rattlers looked out of province for the first overall selection, they stuck close to home in rounds two and three. Alex Dewar, the 14th selection, and Tyres Potoma, the 15th, are both out of the University of Saskatchewan.
Dewar earned Canada West All-Rookie Team honours for his play in 2019, and before that, he was named Mr. Basketball Saskatchewan in 2018. Born in Saskatoon, the U of S guard is right at home with the Rattlers as he begins his professional career.
Potoma, 6’3”, played in the NCAA with Cleveland State before transferring to the U of S. However, he has not played for the Huskies during the cancelled season.
Niagara River Lions
ROUND 1 – PICK 2: Emmanuel Owootoah (Brock)
The Riverlions stayed local with the second pick in the draft, selecting Emmanuel Owootoah out of Brock University. This is the second time the Riverlions have selected him after they also picked him in 2020.
The 5’10” guard played with the Riverlions in 2020, averaging 1.6 points per game and 50% from the three-point line. He transferred to Brock from the famed Carleton Ravens program in 2019.
ROUND 2/3: Lloyd Pandi (Carleton) + Grant Sheppard (Carleton)
Well, this is going to be weird. Lloyd Pandi, who played with the Ottawa Blackjacks in 2020, is now a member of the Niagara River Lions. This writer finds it extremely odd that the 2020 CEBL U SPORTS Player of the Year fell to the second round, but it is a significant boon for the River Lions.
Despite being the youngest player at the CEBL Summer Series, the 6’4” guard from Ottawa averaged 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 22.0 minutes in six games as a member of the Blackjacks. Pandi played with the 2019-20 Ravens, who won the U SPORTS National Championship in Ottawa.
Sheppard, 6’10 and born in Kelowna, BC, transferred to Carleton in the fall of 2020 to finish off his two years of remaining eligibility after starting his career with the UBC Thunderbirds. The Fraser Valley Bandits selected him in the 2019 draft after winning a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games with Team Canada.
The Niagra River Lions did themselves a lot of favours in the 2021 CEBL Draft.
ROUND 1 – PICK 3: Isaiah Osborne (Carleton)
With the third selection in the 2021 CEBL U SPORTS Draft, the Nighthawks selected Isiah Osborne from Carleton University. The Windsor native has not spent his whole university career at Carleton, however, first starting with his hometown Windsor Lancers, before transferring to the Univesity of Texas-El Paso, and eventually moving to the Ottawa dynasty.
He won the 2019 and 2020 U SPORTS National Championships with the Ravens, and the CEBL’s Blackjacks signed him to a U SPORTS Developmental Contract in 2020. He suited up for the Blackjacks three times in the Summer Series.
ROUND 2/3: Jordan Henry (McMaster) + Cole Long (Memorial)
Jordan Henry has been a consistent starter over his two seasons with the McMaster Marauders. In 2019-20, he scored the fourth most points-per-game in the OUA with 23.1 and was nearly impossible to defend. The OUA named Henry to the all-rookie team in 2019, and he earned second-team all-star honours in 2020.
Out of Memorial University, Cole Long graduated from the highly-touted Orangeville Prep high school program and went down to the United States before returning to Canada in the AUS. The 6’&” centre earned several accolades in 2019-20 with Memorial, including Male Athlete of the Year, Team MVP and was named to the AUS All-Star 1st Team.
ROUND 1 – PICK 4: Ali Sow (Laurier)
Perhaps surprisingly, the Ottawa Blackjacks did not call upon a local talent with their first-round selection, rather taking Ali Sow out of the Laurier Golden Hawks. This is Sow’s second time being selected in the U SPORTS Draft after Guelph picked him in 2020.
Through three years with the Golden Hawks, the 6’1” guard averaged 22.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 31.3 minutes in 66 regular-season games. He also represented Team Canada at the 2019 World University Games in Naples, Italy, where he averaged 7.5 points and 2.8 rebounds.
Many expected him to go higher in the draft, so this could be a steal for the Blackjacks.
ROUND 2/3: Guillaume Pepin (Ottawa) + Graddy Kanku (Ontario Tech)
The Blackjacks stayed local with their second selection, picking Guillaume Pepin, out of the University of Ottawa. The forward has played two seasons with the Gee-Gees averaging 15.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 29.1 minutes through 36 games.
Through one season with the Ridgebacks, Graddy Kanku, the 6’5” guard averaged 20.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.9 steals and 32.4 minutes in 19 games. Those stats were good enough to sort of carry an inaugural season Ridgebacks team through their dismal 1-21 record. Individually, however, Kanku was named to the OUA All-Rookie team and was 15th overall in OUA scoring.
Hamilton Honey Badgers
ROUND 1 – PICK 5: Keevan Veinot (Dalhousie)
The reigning AUS MVP, Keevan Veinot of the Dalhousie Tigers, is coming off the best season of his career as a third-year in 2019-20. He led the Tigers to an AUS championship last season (the second of his career) on their way to earning silver medals at the 2020 U SPORTS Final 8 in Ottawa. In the process, he was named a U SPORTS first-team All-Canadian and earned a spot on the Final 8’s all-star team. He was also nominated for the U SPORTS Athlete of the Year
Veinot led the team with 15.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game last season. In the assist category, he bested his closest teammate by nearly three APG. With his play-driving style, the Port Williams, N.S. native finished 2019-20 sixth in the AUS in field-goal attempts while shooting 44.1 %. Regardless if he joins the Honey Badgers this coming season, it is expected he will return to Dal for the fall.
ROUND 2/3: Thomas Kennedy (Windsor) + Mychael Paulo (McMaster)
Hamilton stayed in the OUA with both their picks after Veinot and stayed in their city with Mychael Paulo out of McMaster.
Thomas Kennedy, a 6’9” forward from the University of Windsor, has spent the last two seasons with the Lancers, where he has averaged 14.9 points per game through 46 appearances. He scores a season-high 33 points against the Ryerson Rams in November 2019, en route to earning the Windsor Lancers Super Sophomore Award.
Paulo has not suited up for McMaster yet, but the Toronto native will undoubtedly be a crucial player for them if and when he does. The 6’5” guard began his collegiate career with Williston State, then transferred to Montana State before returning home to Ontario in 2020. He scored double-digit points in over half of the games he played in 2019-20 with Montana.
While Paulo has one year of U SPORTS eligibility left, the Honey Badgers found themselves a talented player deep in the draft.
Fraser Valley Bandits
ROUND 1 – PICK 6: Anthony Tsegakele (Brandon)
The Bandits have been all about business this off-season, and landing Tsegakele is another bonus. After locking up their veteran guard in Marek Klassen, the Bandits have a gem of a player in their draft pick forward out of Brandon.
Tsegakele was the Canada West Rookie of the Year in 2019-20 and was earned nominations to the U SPORTS and Canada West All-Rookie teams. From Quebec, he averaged 17.4 points per game, the 10th highest in Canada West. He was also second in Canada West with 11.9 rebounds per game and 239 total rebounds.
While the Brandon team did not win a conference or national championship in 2019-20, Anthony Tsegakele established himself as an elite university-level player who can hopefully impact the CEBL.
ROUND 2/3: Adam Paige (Alberta) + Grant Audu (UBC)
While the Bandits did not take any super-local players from the UFV Cascades, they kept their selections in Canada West, and their third pick, in southern BC.
Born in Surrey, BC, Adam Paige has played two seasons with the Alberta Golden Bears, establishing himself as a prominent forward. Standing at 6’8”, Paige averaged 12.9 points per game and ranked as Alberta’s second-leading scorer in 2019-20 while also shooting .543 from the field. In his rookie year, Paige earned the Canada West Rookie of the Year Award and was named to the U SPORTS all-rookie team.
Grant Audu, a 6’4” guard out of the University of British Columbia, is also heading to the Bandits. Audu, from Mississauga, Ontario, has spent the last three seasons playing for the T-Birds and averaged 13.6 points per game in 2019-20, the fourth-highest on UBC. A physical player, Audu is a nice local choice from the Bandits.
ROUND 1 – PICK 7: Alex Carson (Dalhousie)
Carson, Like Veinot, is also expected to return to school in September; whatever his summer plans may be. He makes up the second half of the Tigers’ backcourt with fellow Nova Scotian Veinot (Carson is from Lower Sackville) and is a winner of three AUS championships in four seasons played.
Carson is a two-time AUS second-team all-star and was named MVP of the 2019-20 AUS Championships hosted by Dal. His strengths lie within his shot as one of the most prominent three-point and free-throw shooters in U SPORTS. His career 165 three-point shots made is tops in program history, and he was second in the AUS in three-pointers made last season with 44. As for free-throws, his 93.1 %efficiency at the line was the best figure in the country in 2019-20. Carson will be joined by current Dal teammate Xavier Ochu and former teammate Sascha Kappos in Edmonton, where they will begin the chase for back-to-back CEBL championships.
ROUND 2/3: DeAndrae Pierre (York) + Colton Gibb (Lethbridge)
The only selection from the Toronto-based schools, DeAndrae Pierre, from York is heading west. From Brampton, Ontario, the 6’1” guard has played the last two seasons with the Lions, and averaged 12.5 points per game in 2019-20, good for second on the team. He was also named to the OUA all-rookie team in 2018-19, his first season with York.
Colton Gibb is a veteran from the Lethbridge Pronghorns, where he has played the last four seasons. He does have a year of eligibility left, however, he is in his fifth year of school right now. The 6’3” guard has never missed a Canada West game over his career, playing all 20 games in each of his seasons. While he may not have the accolades of some others selected, he is the most durable and serviceable player.
Stats provided by CEBL, U SPORTS, Canada WEST, OUA and AUS
Cover Photo: Saskatchewan Rattlers