Top student-athletes selected to play alongside professional basketball stars in upcoming season
The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) announced the results of the 2021 CEBL U SPORTS Draft on Wednesday. The seven CEBL franchises drafted 21 student-athletes from 17 Canadian universities during three rounds of selections. This is a coveted opportunity for top players in U SPORTS to get a taste of professional basketball by practicing and playing alongside veteran pro’s from the NBA, NBA G League, Canadian National team, and top international leagues.
“We are very excited for all players selected in the third annual CEBL-U SPORTS Draft. Over the past two seasons, the CEBL has provided U SPORTS student-athletes the unique opportunity to pursue their professional basketball careers playing in their home country leading to tremendous growth of basketball in Canada. We look forward to watching the next draft class compete across the country this summer.”
Lisette Johnson-Stapley – Chief Sport Officer, U SPORTS
Each team had one pick in each of the three rounds, selecting in inverse order of their finish in the 2020 CEBL Summer Series, with the Saskatchewan Rattlers holding the first pick. Saskatchewan used that pick on Nervens Demosthene, a third year 6-foot-2 guard from Bishop’s University, who was a RSEQ 1st team All-Star and RSEQ champion in 2019-20.
The Niagara River Lions tabbed Emmanuel Owootoah, who won two U SPORTS national championships with Carleton University before completing his university career at Brock in 2021, with the second pick of the first round. The River Lions had also selected Owootoah in the first round of the 2020 CEBL U SPORTS Draft. The Guelph Nighthawks then followed with Isiah Osborne, who was also part of two national title winners with Carleton.
The Ottawa BlackJacks picked Laurier’s Ali Sow fourth overall. Sow, an OUA First Team All-Star in 2018-19, was picked 12th overall in the 2020 CEBL U SPORTS Draft by Guelph. The Hamilton Honey Badgers selected 6-foot-4 guard and 2019 AUS Male Athlete of the Year, Keevan Veinot of Dalhousie University fifth, before the Fraser Valley Bandits added Anthony Tsegakele from Brandon University. The Edmonton Stingers closed out the opening round by drafting Alex Carson, also from Dalhousie, seventh overall.
Another notable pick in the 2021 CEBL U SPORTS Draft came when the Niagara River Lions called the name of 2020 CEBL – U SPORTS Player of the Year, Lloyd Pandi, with the 13th overall selection. A second-year guard from Carleton University and the youngest player in the 2020 CEBL Summer Series, Pandi averaged 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 22.0 minutes in six games with the expansion Ottawa BlackJacks in 2020. The 6-foot-4 native of Ottawa led his hometown team in steals, field goal percentage, and offensive rebounds while finishing fifth in points scored for the BlackJacks.
CEBL clubs have a choice of carrying one U SPORTS player on their 10-man active roster as either a developmental player returning to school after the completion of the 2021 CEBL season or as a current year graduate who has concluded his university career. All 21 draftees are classified as developmental players, as no eligibility was consumed during the 2020-21 season due to the cancellation of the national championships.
“The 2021 CEBL U SPORTS Draft results are exceptional. U SPORTS programs continue to develop some of our country’s best players, and we can’t wait for these rising stars to earn a spot on our team rosters and play alongside top professional talent from across the world. It’s been a tough year for most student-athletes and we hope that opportunities like this further help in forging future pro basketball stars who can represent Canada domestically and on the world stage.”
Mike Morreale – Commissioner & CEO, CEBL
2021 CEBL U SPORTS Draft Results
The CEBL led the NHL, and later the CPL in returning to play in Canada after the coronavirus shut down the sports world in March of 2020. The CEBL Summer Series put professional basketball on the television and digital screens of millions of viewers across Canada and around the world, establishing the league as the top Canadian-based global team sports brand. The 2021 season, set to start June 5, will build on that momentum with an expanded viewing audience around the world, and locally through an innovative approach to addressing the uncertainties due to the pandemic around having fans in arenas across the league.