“Overwhelmed right now, being the number one pick comes with a lot of responsibility. You have the instant target on your back, but I’m ready to work,” Canadian point guard Alex Johnson told NPH, after being drafted first overall to the expansion Ottawa Skyhawks.
Johnson is a 5’10 point guard with freak athleticism, quickness and on-target shooting abilities. While Johnson was a late entry into the NBL Canada draft combine, Skyhawks Head Coach Kevin Keathley had the lead guard on his radar for several months.
“When I found out he was available, it worked out perfectly, because I was scouting him since May,” explained Keathley.
Johnson fulfills a need for the Ottawa contingent at the point guard spot, as Keathley described him to be the only pure point in their talent pool, but surrounded by talented combo guards and wings that can flat out score the basketball.
“I really do my homework on players to find the right pieces. Alex is a high character individual and we need a PG; a guy that has earned everything he’s gotten. We needed a guy that I could count on in the locker room,” said Keathley.
Johnson played at Vaughan Road in high school, before committing to Cal State Bakersfield, where he averaged 13 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.4 assist per game in the 2010-2011 season. Johnson completed his CSBU career ranked second all-time in three-pointer made with 165.
Following graduation from Cal State Bakersfield with a degree in communications, Johnson played one year with NC State in the ACC conference, averaging 4.4 points, 2.8 assists and 1.7 rebuonds in 19.5 minutes.
He becomes the first overall Canadian pick in NBL Canada history, two months after Anthony Bennett became the first Canadian NBA #1 draft pick.
On that note, Bennett congratulated Johnson via twitter on draft night,
“Yessir, congrats bruva .. wish you all the best #GodBless”
“I thank God for the opportunity, it’s a blessing to make history,” said Johnson.
Other Canadians expected to be at Skyhawks training camp include Tristan Blackwood, Jamie Vanderbeken, as well as local talent Manock Lual and Eric Kibi.
Blackwood starred at Central Connecticut State (NCAA D1) and has been playing professionally in Europe for various clubs for over five years. The 6’0 scoring guard brings strong ability in attacking the rim, coupled with a nice mid-range game.
6’11 Vanderbeken (Iowa State/ BIG 12) also brings pro experience of five years, along with great size and versatility, being able to hit the three-point shot. In his senior, Vanderbeken averaged 11 points, five rebounds, one assist and nearly two blocks, while shooting an impresive 42.5% from the three-point line.
Lual (UPEI/ CIS) is fresh off his first season overseas where he averaged 16 points and eight rebounds for Medway Park in the United Kingdom. Kibi returns from his first year in Germany, where he averaged four point and four rebonuds for Halstenbek.
Keathley stressed the importance of finding the best Canadians available, and believes the Ottawa Skyhawks are bringing in a strong group.
American signess include Ryan Anderson, Mike Rose, Fred Sturdivant, and Tirrell Baines.
Keathley and his crew will be entering their first year in the NBL Canada, understanding the importance of a rock solid base.
“These are the guys you need as foundation for the franchise; in a nut shell, leadership, dedication, commitment is what we are bringing.”