2021 CEBL Notebook #7: 5 U SPORTS Names Making Noise at the End of the Regular Season

TORONTO, CANADA – The CEBL regular season came to an end this week, and boy was it a lot of fun. From record setting performances to breakout stars, the regular season gave us just about everything we could’ve hoped for from the third season of the CEBL. As fans all across the country (except in Saskatchewan – sorry Rattlers) prepare for the playoffs to begin, we’ve still got time for one last list of 5 U SPORTS Names Making Noise before the big games start. Thanks to everyone for reading along in the regular season, and we’ll see you in the playoffs!

#1: Thomas Scrubb, F, Niagara River Lions (Carleton, 2009-2015)

Thomas Scrubb
Thomas Scrubb playing for Canada (Canada Basketball)

There isn’t a ton left to say about Thomas Scrubb at this point. The all-time U SPORTS great had a strong run with the Ottawa BlackJacks in the 2020 Summer Series, and he’s taken a step up once again in 2021 with the Niagara River Lions. Scrubb joined the team late and got in just five games for Niagara this season, but his arrival, along with another arrival who we’ll get to shortly, has transformed the River Lions into instant championship contenders. Scrubb has averaged 18.2 points per game since joining Niagara, which would place him 3rd in the league if he were eligible, but the 6’5” forward has done more than just score. The former Raven has also averaged 7.8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals per game since he got to the CEBL. It’s performances like he had on Sunday against the BlackJacks, when he scored 15 points to go with 11 rebounds, 9 assists, and 5 steals, that have everyone in Niagara believing that they’re more than worthy of challenging the Edmonton Stingers for the CEBL Championship.

#2: Philip Scrubb, G, Niagara River Lions (Carleton, 2010-2015)

It’s hard to mention one Scrubb brother without the other in Canadian basketball, and this list is certainly no exception. The younger Scrubb joined the River Lions around the same time as his big brother, and their reunion with former Carleton teammates Guillaume Boucard (more on him later), and Vic Raso, now serving as coach, has launched Niagara to their best stretch since they finished 1st in the league’s inaugural regular season. The River Lions are 5-1 since Scrubb made his 2021 debut, and it’s pretty clear that that’s no coincidence. The five time National Champion has been exactly what the city of St. Catharines needed, providing scoring touch and great passing in spades. Scrubb has shot better than 40% from three this season, scored in double digits in 5 of 6 games, and has averaged an even 5 assists a game. His veteran leadership and incredible skill have put the River Lions in a prime position headed in to the playoffs.

#3: TJ Lall, F, Guelph Nighthawks (Carleton, 2015-2021)

Tajinder Lall of Cambridge was the first overall pick in this year’s Canadian Elite Basketball League U SPORTS draft.
(Carleton Ravens Athletics)

After he was drafted first overall in last season’s U SPORTS Draft, TJ Lall is finally getting the chance to show what he’s capable of with the Guelph Nighthawks this season. The third consecutive former Raven to make our list, Lall closed out the season strong with the Nighthawks as they looked to pick up some momentum heading into the playoffs. Lall averaged 9.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game over the Nighthawks final five regular season games, and no doubt head coach Charles Kissi will be looking to him to help the Nighthawks bust some brackets in the postseason.

#4: Adika Peter-McNeilly, G, Edmonton Stingers (Rams, 2013-2017)

One of the leading candiadates for the CEBL’s Sixth Man of the Year, Adika Peter-McNeilly has played some of his best basketball of the year as the Edmonton Stingers have ramped up their title defence headed into the playoffs. The former First Team All-Canadian has given them consistent bench scoring all year, and had two of his strongest games to close the regular season. Peter-McNeilly followed up a 10 point performance in Edmonton’s penultimate regular season game with 16 points in the finale, and will once again be a crucial piece of Edmonton’s championship push.

#5: Lloyd Pandi, G, Niagara River Lions (Carleton, 2018-Present)

Men's basketball rookie Lloyd Pandi's team first approach | The Charlatan,  Carleton's independent newspaper
(The Charlatan)

Pandi is helping us break an unwritten Names Making Noise rule this week, as we usually try to avoid putting multiple players from the same team in the same week, but the River Lions have looked so good lately that they’ve been hard to ignore. The current U SPORTS star has shown a new aspect to his game that OUA fans wouldn’t have seen before, as the youngster who won a National Championship playing power forward at Carleton has been playing guard in the CEBL this year, and to hear him tell it, it’s much more comfortable for him. “I wanted to do what’s best for the team (at Carleton),” said Pandi on the idea of playing power forward. “Having an opportunity to play here at the 1 or 2 or 3, I know I’m going to bring that impactful play… this is more the brand of basketball that I play.” The idea that Pandi won the U SPORTS Rookie of the Year award while playing out of position is a pretty terrifying notion, but the 21-year-old has shown flashes of his new potential with the new-look River Lions. “Lloyd works on his shot harder than any person I’ve seen in a long time,” said Niagara head coach Vic Raso. “He’s (also) the strongest guy on our team. It’s ridiculous how strong he is”. Pandi used that combination of skill and ridiculous strength to score a season high 20 points in a statement blowout of the Hamilton Honey Badgers on August 3rd, and will look to stay hot as the River Lions gear up for a deep playoff run.

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