When you google search the term “best Canadian basketball player” today, your result will be a lot different than if you had performed the same search in 2006. Back then, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone other than Steve Nash. Although a great player in his own right, he was at a different level than his Canadian peers.
Fast forward ten years and Canada has taken some serious leaps in the right direction when it comes to developing world-class basketball talent. First overall pick in 2014, Andrew Wiggins, who first dunked a basketball of the age of 13, highlights a list of Canadians that includes Tristan Thompson, and Nik Stauskas who are a result of the Vince Carter era of basketball in Canada. Even the Toronto Raptors have groomed Corey Joseph a player who earlier last season came up through a Canadian Farm system, Raptors 905. Corey and the Raptors fell short to LeBron James and the Cavaliers but, with the recent conclusion of the NBA finals, it is easy to see why basketball is attracting more fans and more high-level athletes than ever before.
With the addition of last year’s National Basketball League of Canada’s (NBLC) franchise in Niagara, the River Lions, we’re looking to ignite a passion in the region by inspiring young athletes and capitalizing on the player development in this time of growth in of basketball in Canada. With the inaugural season for the River Lions in the books, the team’s management is looking to increase the development of high-level basketball by hosting and promoting unique events.
The NBLC took a page out of the CFL’s playbook by holding an all-Canadian draft. The River Lions jumped at the opportunity to host the NBLC’s first event, a pre-draft combine showcasing players from across Canada hoping to latch on with a NBLC franchise next season. With an increase in Canadian talent, the league is looking to keep good players in Canada to play a high level of basketball and grow to take the next step in their careers. The players that attended the combine were all graduates of Canadian Colleges and Universities within the last three years.
The draft is another tool that league commissioner David Magley is using to help build a better relationship with all of the Canadian school programs. It’s the beginning of something special as the NBLC continues to grow the game in Canada.
With the league looking to add more teams again for its 2016/17 season, this is a great time to be a basketball fan in the Niagara area. With the start of the second season in franchise history just around the corner, the River Lions are working on improving their roster and overall quality of the game experience for their fans — a higher level of entertainment and excitement!
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