TORONTO, ON – The CEBL is usually a league where any team can win on any given night, but the Guelph Nighthawks weren’t able to find any good nights over the course of the past week. Guelph dropped three straight games to the their archrival Hamilton Honey Badgers, who have ridden a couple of emerging U SPORTS studs to 2nd place in the CEBL, behind only the undefeated Edmonton Stingers. While NCAA products Lindell Wigginton and Xavier Moon continue to trade blows in what’s quickly shaping up to be a two-horse MVP race, there were still many U SPORTS Names Making Noise in the CEBL this week.
#1: Keevan Veinot, GF, Hamilton Honey Badgers (Dalhousie, 2017-2021)
Anyone who’s followed U SPORTS basketball in the past four years know that Keevan Veinot absolutely oozes talent. The 2020 AUS MVP and First Team All-Canadian was the driving force behind Dalhousie’s recent success. Veinot finally got a chance at some minutes during Hamilton’s triple header against the Nighthawks this week, and it’s probably safe to say he won’t be headed back to the bench any time soon. After he got some quality Elam Ending time due to teammates in foul trouble on Saturday’s win, Veinot cracked the starting lineup for Monday’s game and immediately responded. The former Tiger dropped 19 points on 6/9 shooting, including 3/4 from three, as Hamilton picked up the 101-89 win, and kept it up on Friday night, scoring 21 points and tossing a game winning lob to teammate Jean-Victor Mukama (more on him shortly). Veinot has exploded on to the CEBL scene after getting his feet wet, and is now looking like a vital piece of a potential championship run for head coach Ryan Schmidt and the Honey Badgers.
#2: Jean-Victor Mukama, F, Hamilton Honey Badgers (Rams, 2013-2019)
Told you the Honey Badgers had a good week. Along with the emergence of Veinot, Lindell Wigginton also had a second vital member of his supporting cast emerge, this time the former Rams superstar Jean-Victor Mukama. Expected from the beginning of the season to be an important part of Hamilton’s plans, Mukama suffered from a bit of a slow start to the year where his shot wasn’t falling and he struggled to have his usually scoring impact. It was surprising for the man who scored almost 17 points per game in his final season of OUA play, but the Honey Badgers knew they would be getting the proper Mukama back sooner or later. “We know what his talent level is like, we know what he’s capable of,” said Schmidt after Saturday’s win. “We know what he can bring to the table.” Mukama definitely brought it to the table this week, averaging almost 11 points and 7 rebounds over Hamilton’s three wins. It was a nice bounce back for Mukama, but one that he always knew was coming. “I knew I was gonna start slow, given that I came back from an injury,” said Mukama after scoring 18 in the Saturday win. “I knew my game was gonna come back, I wasn’t worried about that. I’m focused on the win more than anything else.” After this week, it seems as though Mukama will have lots more wins to focus on as Hamilton begins to emerge as a true championship contender.
#3: Guillaume Payen-Boucard, F, Niagara River Lions (Carleton, 2011-2016)
One of the older U SPORTS alumni in the league, Boucard is also a CEBL veteran who’s starting to show, once again, that he is a vital piece for a Niagara River Lions squad that had a solid week. Reunited with Carleton legend and new member of the River Lions front office Dave Smart, Boucard played to his strengths for Niagara, as the team suffered a close loss to the defending champion Edmonton Stingers before beating the downtrodden Saskatchewan Rattlers and then handing the Fraser Valley Bandits their first loss of the season. Boucard had his best game of the year in that Fraser Valley win, scoring 12 points to go along with 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. The all-around effort showed how polished Boucard’s game is, as the forward bounced back from a 0 point showing the last time Niagara played the Bandits. The 5-time National Champion is tied for the league lead with 2.2 steals per game, and will look to continue to torture opponents on both ends of the floor as the season goes on.
#4: Adika Peter-McNeilly, G, Edmonton Stingers (Rams, 2013-2017)
The CEBL has been so exciting with the surprise great start of Fraser Valley and the recent hot streak of the Honey Badgers, that it’s been a little too easy to forget about our defending champs. The Edmonton Stingers have just been doing what they do best, quietly starting the year 4-0 and resting atop the CEBL standings. Just like their championship run last year, they’ve been doing it with a ton of U SPORTS contributions, and one of the biggest of those has come from Adika Peter-McNeilly. The former Ram dropped 15 points in a 101-60 drubbing of the Rattlers, just two nights after he scored 21 on the Ottawa BlackJacks in another easy Edmonton victory. Peter-McNeilly has both started and come off the bench for the Stingers early in the 2021 season, and will remain a valuable weapon for the team in any capacity as they look to become the CEBL’s first ever repeat champions.
#5: Lloyd Pandi, F, Niagara River Lions (Carleton, 2019-Present)
The rise and potential of Lloyd Pandi has been written about time and time again in this notebook, but the Carleton product continues to impress in his 2nd go-around in the CEBL. The Ottawa native has taken on more of a ball handling role this year in Niagara, and if that’s a taste of something he’s added to his game for the Ravens, the OUA might be in some trouble. The 21 year old dished 6 assists in the River Lions’ tight loss to Edmonton this week, and has settled into a secondary scorer role on the team, as he has yet to take more than 7 shots in a game. However, Pandi is still finding a way to have an impact, as usual, with his tenacious rebounding. The young star averages an offensive rebound per game for Niagara in 2021, and also averages 1.6 steals per game for the St Catherine’s squad. The phenom might not be producing the jaw-dropping numbers some were hoping for just yet, but he’s continued to improve in his 2nd taste of professional play.