(Scarborough, On) The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) has undergone a rapid expansion from its inaugural season, with three new teams added to the league in this season alone – but no team has burst onto the scene with landmark moves like the brand-new Scarborough Shooting Stars have in the last month.
Like many CEBL teams, the Shooting Stars have quickly become a team for the city, by the city, and from the start, with OVO co-founder and Scarborough native Nichoas ‘Niko’ Carino leading the charge with The Playground co-founder Sam Ibrahim. Their early moves included several important figures from Scarborough’s basketball history, including former NBA All-Star and Toronto Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire, who will serve as the Vice President/Sr. Advisor.
The Shooting Stars will play their inaugural season home games at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre,
While other teams got started in training camp this week, the Shooting Stars front office was cooking up one of the most intriguing signings in league history – rapper, and point guard, J. Cole. The announcement drew attention to the league in ways that few have before, with international coverage picking it up immediately, including NBA insider Shams Charania tweeting the news.
Sources: J. Cole is signing contract with the Scarborough Shooting Stars (@sss_cebl) in the Canadian Elite Basketball League, the rap star's second consecutive year playing professionally. CEBL training camp began this week, with season opener on May 26.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 20, 2022
Cole will command a lot of attention from fans and media but will have a lot to prove in his time with the Shooting Stars. The rapper made his pro debut in 2021 in the Basketball Africa League, where he appeared in three games for the Rwanda Patriots. The CEBL represents a significant step up in talent from the last time we saw Cole on the court, but the guard will have a chance to show what he’s capable of early on with the expansion team.
They’re also bringing in one of the best Canadian bigs who is currently not signed in the NBA. Kyle Alexander saw time in the NBA with the Miami Heat and the G League’s Sioux Fall’s Skyforce before signing with Spanish club Fuenlabrada in 2020. Alexander has found his groove in the more structured international game – which the CEBL has tried to mold itself after – with impressive showings throughout his time with Fuenlabrada, including a recent 30-point outing against UCAM Murcia in March.
Danilo Djuricic, who was notably a part of the U19 Canadian team that won the gold medal in 2017, brings an explosive offensive aspect to the Shooting Stars with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and score inside. Djuricic had his collegiate career at Harvard cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic but recently played for Basketball Club Brno in the Czech Republic, where he averaged five points and five rebounds.
And finally, Olu Famutimi brings a veteran CEBL presence to the team in a way that few can. Famutimi’s pro career started in 2005 with a training camp invite from the Philadelphia 76ers, and he’s remained a fixture of the Canadian pro basketball scene throughout the last decade – including a showing with the Edmonton Stingers in their run in the Basketball Champions League Americas.
While the Shooting Stars are new to the scene, they’ve brought a sense of excitement to the new season that few could have predicted. The city that was once was the premier battleground for basketball talent in Canada will now have its chance to enter the national conversation through the CEBL and will look to prove that Scarborough hasn’t been passed by with the growth of the game within Canada.
NOTE: It’s been reported that J Cole will only play in the Shooting Stars first 3 games as he starts his Off–Season tour on July 10th in New York.
Our own Drew Ebanks discusses the Scarborough Shooting Stars signing of J. Cole and what a shot in the arm it is for the Canadian Elite Basketball League. Click HERE to watch!