PHOTO COURTESY: ANCIL LONDON
TORONTO, ON–“When I introduced myself to the city of Halifax [four years ago], the one thing that I’ve always said, is I want to always make sure that whatever we did, it was the very best.”
“We wanted to make sure that whatever we presented to fans and our corporate sponsor, was the very best.”
These were the words that were shared with Canada by NBL CEO, Andre Levingston on May 12, 2011, when the league held it’s first ever press conference, and presented this great venture to the nation.
Two words. Mission accomplished!
Last night at the Rogers Centre, Levingston orchestrated what he set out to do, displaying utmost class and professionalism, making Canadian basketball history with the 2011-2012 inaugural NBL draft.
NPH was on hand for the combine earlier in the day that sook place at Seneca College as well as the draft, where dreams came true for many young Canadian players.
NPH had the opportunity to catch up with several players throughout the festivities:
Morgan Lewis, #1 Overall, Oshawa Power PHOTO COURTESY: TORONTO SUN
“With the first pick of the NBL Draft, the Oshawa Power select, Morgan Lewis”
Lewis is a 6’4 guard out of Kansas, Ohio who attended the University of Findlay and captured an NCAA Division two national championship in 2009.
“I’m happy I had the opportunity to come out here and compete in a way that at least one team saw some interest in me, and I’m excited to get this season started and see what we can do with this,” Lewis told NPH, immediately after he shook hands with Mr. Levingston.
Lewis is a newcomer to Canada as it was his first time in Toronto, “I’m excited to get a chance to see what the country has to offer.”
The Oshawa Power also picked up 6’8 forward, Kevin Francis (Cleveland State) who was extremely impressive in the combine, displaying his versatility, length and mid-range shooting ability to those in attendance.
Kevin Francis, #8 Overall, Oshawa Power
“I’m happy to be back in Toronto, hoping that the competition is good and that my family can come out and watch me for once. All they see is highlights on the internet.”
“It’s been a long time, I’ve always wanted to play at home, never had the chance to play at home except high school basketball [C.W Jeffrey’s].
Since graduating from Cleveland State, Francis has played professional basketball overseas in Findland, Argentina, Saudia Arabia, China, and France.
Rounding up the Power’s selection was Blain Labranche, a former CIS star with the UBC Thunderbirds.
PHOTO COURTESY: FAN590
Jerome Brown, #5 Overall, Saint John Millrats
The Eastern Commerce Alumni and Panola College (JUCO) graduate, Brown was the first Canadian selected in the 2011-2012 NBL draft making history, and joining the Saint John Millrats.
“I’m just ready to play, I’m no stopper, I just keep going. I have my faith and my family behind my back,” he emotionally explained after hearing his name called.
“It’s been hard for me…since I was a little kid. I never had a dad that supported me in that way so I started telling myself I can be that man to keep moving forward.”
Brown was part of an OFSAA championship team that featured high scool stars Alwayne Bigby, Marvin Binney and Wayne Bridge, to name a few.
He was never the most talked about player, however always performed to the best of his ability and provided maximum effort on the hardwood. Brown is a 6’4 wing with great strength and athleticism, and will certainly provide excitement to the Millrats franchise.
Saint John’s second and third round selections included Sherton Sanderson, 5’11, exposive guard out of Markham, Ontario and University of Wisconsin alumni Kevin Massiah.
Massiah is a 6’5 wing with great size and athleticism on the perimeter and the ability to score inside and out.
Isaac Kuon, #10 Overall, London Lightning
“I’m extremely relieved because these few months have been really stressful and I was trying to figure out what to do with my life.
Kuon is a recent graduate of Windsor University, and has cemented his name in the CIS as a Lancer. Prior to Windsor, Kuon had a short stint in Colarado playing for North Eastern Junior College.
CLICK HERE to read more about Isaac Kuon in this NPH feature.
Papa Oppong, #13 Overall, Halifax Rainmen
I was actually surprised that Oppong was selected as late as #13 based of his performance earlier in the day at the NBL combine.
Oppong had a solid University career with Eastern Kentucky where he recorded averages of 11 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 1.5 APG in his 2009-10 campaign.
“I’m just happy to be in a situation like this.”
His joy was evident through his ear to ear smile from the walk up to the podium, to the media scrum.
2011-2012 NBL Canada Draft Selections
Red Highlight Indicates Canadian players.
Oshawa – Morgan Lewis, 6’4″ 210 lbs, University of Findlay
PEI– Justin Garris, 6’3″ 200 lbs, Ashland University
London – Tryone Levett, 6’5″ 220 lbs, Alabama State
Moncton – Darrell Wonge, 6’7” 215 lbs, Winston-Salem State
Saint John – Jerome Brown , 6’4″ 205 lbs, Panola College
Halifax – Danny Friend, 6’7″ 215 lbs, Limestone College
Quebec – Tristan Martin , 6’3″ 192 lbs, University of Houston
Oshawa – Kevin Francis, 6’8” 220, Cleveland State
PEI – Chris Cayole, 6’8” 210, St. Michael’s College
London – Isaac Kuon, 6’4” 186, University of Windsor
Moncton – Kevin Loiselle, 6’6” 220, Maine Fort Kent University
Saint John – Sherton Sanderson, 5’11” 165, Markham, Ontario
Halifax – Papa Oppong, 6’4” 185, Eastern Kentucky
Quebec – Sherone Edwards, 6’4” 215, UPEI
Oshawa – Blain Labranche, 6’5” 195, UBC
PEI – Tyrone Mattison, 6’0”195, Long Island University
London – Nicholas Lother, 5’11” 175, University of Winnipeg
Moncton – Akeem Sween, 6’4” 195, Humber College
Saint John – Kevin Massiah – 6’5” 215, Wisconsin
Halifax – Jerrell Thompson, 5’10” 185, Sacred Heart University
Quebec – Eugene Kotorabai, 6’5” 225, Long Island University