Canadian college and university basketball players are now being scouted by Canada’s first professional league.
The National Basketball League of Canada was formed last summer. It features a total of seven teams from Ontario, Quebec and Maritimes.
Akeem Sween, a third-year forward for the Humber Hawks, was drafted by the Moncton Miracles in the league’s first draft on Aug. 21.
“Canada should have had a league like this a long time ago,” said Sween. “Every other country has a league, but we finally have one.”
“The NBL gives players an opportunity to develop, and gives them a place to play in their own country at a high level,” said Andre Livingston, NBL president and CEO.
“Just like the NBA and NCAA in the (United) States, we’re going to get the opportunity to scout the best players in the country.”
Only two Canadian players are required on each roster, said Livingston, adding he’d love to see that number grow.
“Some of these kids who play at the university level, with a little bit more development, are kids that you could see performing on the world stage,” he said.
Gary Durrant, president of basketball operations for the Oshawa Power, said the league’s dedication to Canadian talent is why he got involved.
Because Canada has never had its own professional league, Durrant said many players came to tryouts straight from their nine-to-five jobs.
“Something that we saw in our tryouts is that a lot of these players came in shamefully out of shape.”