Sheldon Cassimy has always been a student of basketball. He discovered his love for coaching at an early age and was blessed to be around many talented players in the city when he was growing up which helped him stay connected to the game, and created connections that he still has today. He has now been coaching professionally for 11 years and continues to thrive and help players achieve their goals both on the USports level and professional level. 

Cassimy started out doing a lot of skill development for professional players, including players on the Canadian Senior Men’s National Team and was able to turn his passion  into a  profession by startingthe MADE Pro Am League that helped with building connections and networking with athletes. 

From there, he started coaching at U of T, then with the Brampton A’s (of the now defunct NBL Canada), then Ryerson University now called Toronto Metropolitan University), where they captured the first-ever OUA men’s basketball championship in school history. Cassimy then went on to help run the Canada Basketball training center during summers, where he connected with and trained NBA players, then on to coach in the CEBL coaching the Hamilton Honey Badgers as well as coaching at McMaster University. All of that has led him to where he is today, as the Head coach of the Honey Badgers and lead assistant coach at McMaster. 

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be the head coach and assistant GM of the Brampton Honey Badgers”, said Cassimy “ I try and do my best, and it’s definitely with the help of my close friends that I’ve grown up with – Nathaniel Mitchell who I’ve done pretty much everything with and who is a big part of my story. Ryan Schmidt who I learned a lot from, Jermaine Anderson who has been a huge part of my career, who I have been working closely with for the past 12-15 years”

When asked what three words he thinks the players on the team would use to describe him. Sheldon laughed, saying, “I honestly don’t know, I never really thought about that, you have to ask them. I actually want to know this now, but if I had to use one word, I think they would say I’m honest. I try to make sure I’m honest with them, whether it’s good or bad” 

With the CEBL season approaching, fans are looking forward to that high-level Canadian basketball, specifically the games between known rivals such as the Honey Badgers and the Scarborough Shooting Stars. The Honey Badgers were the 2022 CEBL champions, while the Shooting Stars are the current reigning champions. Everyone is betting on and looking forward to seeing who will take the throne this year, and Cassimy has absolute confidence in the Honey Badgers and their title aspirations.

“I’m 100% confident in our team and in our abilities that the Honey Badgers will win it this year”, said Cassimy”. I have the utmost respect for the guys on the Shooting Stars. Many of them are my close friends, and we built a rivalry over the years, even before the CEBL – in the Nike Crown League and in the OVO tournament. We have always seemed to be the two teams that end up in the finals, competing against each other. It’s a healthy rivalry, it’s great and it’s fun and I’m confident that we’re going to put our best foot forward and do our best and see what happens.” 

The CEBL has grown tremendously over the years with people taking more notice of the league, and the overwhelming amount of talent it houses from the athletes to the coaching staff. The fan base is a big part of this, with people being proud to rep their city and cheer them on.

“I think the fanbase is continuing to grow”, said Cassimy. I think that they’re seeing it’s really high-level quality basketball and hopefully it continues to grow. I hope that we continue to get more and more fans that come out to games and see people they might know, or have grown up with. You don’t always get to have that connection with players when you see them on the court, but with the CEBL there’s more of that hometown feel, where we get to have pride for whatever city that we’re in”

Like the rest of us, Cassimy  is also looking forward to the up and coming CEBL season

“What I’m looking forward to the most is having a competitive product on the floor. Seeing the guys playing well together and the community rallying behind us and supporting the team. Also, we really pride ourselves in getting the guys better. Being able to see them get better throughout the season and seeing where we end up by the end of the season”

With coaching, comes big responsibility. We often see in the NBA, if a team takes a loss, especially during the playoffs, a lot of the blame falls on the coach, with some even being fired. The pressure is no different when it comes to the CEBL, and with Cassimy’s years of experience, he gave his perspective on this.

“By being in this position, I know that if we lose, the majority of blame goes on the coach, and when we win, the majority of praise goes to the players, and I’m ok with that. It’s just a matter of doing the very best that you can and making the decisions that you feel are the best and focusing on that. I would say 75% of the blame goes to the coaches when we lose, and 100% of the praise goes to the players when we win [laughs] but I’m ok with that.” 

Cassimy also lends some of his wisdom and advice to anyone aspiring to play high-level basketball in a league like the CEBL. He also let it be known that if he had to choose between a player with talent and a player with work ethic, that he would pick the player with the work ethic every time. Personally, seeing that work ethic can outwork talent, he prides himself in being a worker, player development and working hard alongside the players in the gym. He references Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from the Oklahoma City Thunder ( the team he says he would pick to coach if he could coach any NBA team) who has worked extremely hard on his game, who Cassimy feels should have been the NBA MVP this year, who is an example of how far work ethic can take you. 

“I would say to anyone aspiring to play at a high level, to work hard at your game. Always prepare for what your goal is in advance. If you’re in college, or even in high school and your goal is to play professional basketball, you should be trying to understand that area of business and building your network, in addition to working on your game. A lot of the time I find younger players coming up don’t have any clue about the different levels of professional basketball, what to do, or whom to speak to, so to just seek that guidance and it will help you to put your best foot forward.” 

Cassimy continues to do what he loves, while living up to what he describes is his favourite part of coaching – helping players achieve their goals. His lengthy and successful career is due to his consistent hard work, dedication, love for the game, support he gives others, as well as the support he gets from those around him as well as the respect he has earned for being good at what he does.  

With all of his skills and knowledge of the game, I was curious to know if Cassimy could design the perfect player for his team and what qualities and skills would they have:

“I’m going to create an NBA player, you know that right?” Cassimy laughed “This player would be about 6’ 7” to 6’ 8”, have a really good ability to shoot the ball in multiple/different ways – from the three-point line, mid-range, athletic and finishing at the rim. He would be very good in the  pick-and-roll and posting up smaller players, as well as using his athleticism and strength on the defensive end to guard multiple positions.”

The city is looking forward to seeing Coach Cassimy and the Brampton Honey Badgers back in action for this upcoming CEBL season and we will continue to follow his career as he seems destined for much more success in the future.

Photos courtesy Sheldon Cassimy

Leave a Reply