The Scarborough Shooting Stars came into the 2022 season with all the hype, pomp, and circumstance you would expect from the first Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) team to call the Greater Toronto Area home. The headline-making splash of signing rapper Jermaine Cole aka J. Cole set the tone for the season, and throughout all of the ups and downs, the team found themselves just short of claiming the CEBL Championship in the inaugural year.

With their second season  just under two weeks away, we’re getting our first look at what the Scarborough Shooting Stars will look like as they gear up for another run at the CEBL Finals.

While Scarborough may not have grabbed headlines the same way this offseason, they have set themselves up with one of the most formidable backcourts in the league. Jalen Harris, who made the All-CEBL First Team, and fell just short in his bid to be the league’s most valuable player, returns to the fold after averaging 20 points per game as the centerpiece of the Shooting Stars’ offence. Cat Barber, who made the All-CEBL Second Team and scored 19.6 points per game as a member of the Guelph Nighthawks (now the Calgary Surge), will join him in the backcourt.

Last season allowed Harris to experiment with being on-ball more, and he grew into the role well, despite being forced into the position more often than anticipated due to injuries and players leaving for other opportunities. Adding Barber should allow Harris to move back into a more natural off-ball role and should mean there’s more space for him to work with starters on the floor. This is by far the best backcourt in the CEBL this season and possibly the best backcourt ever seen in the CEBL period.

The other key addition to this team is Thomas Kennedy, the reigning U SPORTS Player of the Year. Kennedy averaged 14.5 points per game and grabbed 8.2 rebounds in his time with the Fraser Valley Bandits last season and has been a consistent force on AmeriCup and World Cup Qualifying rosters for Canada while bringing home almost every individual award possible during his time in the OUA.

Kennedy is the perfect big to pair with the Shooting Stars’ dynamic backcourt. He’s versatile, capable of being the focal point of offensive sets when the guards go to the bench, and can fall back into being a dangerous roll man and aggressive rebounder when paired with them.

With Barber, Harris, and Kennedy locking up three of the five starting spots, the final two spots will be fascinating to watch as the Stars have loaded up with returning players. Kassius Robertson, who has shown himself to be a high-volume scorer both in the CEBL and with the national team, is back. Marcus Anderson has also returned after spending a season in Germany, and once again, he’ll be counted on to take a lot of tough defensive assignments for the Stars. Forwards Kameron Chatman and Kalif Young are back and also started at points last year.

U SPORTS Draftee David Muenkat will also be looked on for a potentially expanded role in this roster construction. Muenkat brings pro-ready size and hustle to the Shooting Stars, and throughout last season he produced whenever he was called on, including an 18-point, 8-rebound performance against Hamilton. He’ll have to earn minutes against Matt Grace, a high-IQ shooter, but with the team needing more traditional small-forward types, Muenkat is a player to watch out for.

The Shooting Stars’ other U SPORTS drafted player, David Walker from Toronto Metropolitan University, is a high-upside, explosively athletic guard. Walker will be battling for the third point guard slot on the team, with Myck Kabongo, Gediminas Juozapaitis and Daniel Mullings likely starting ahead of him in the depth chart to start the training camp. Still, if last season showed us anything, it’s that Chris Exilus is not afraid of relying on U SPORTS talent if they show they’re ready – and Walker has proven to be a player willing to do whatever the team needs.

Scarborough will enter this season as favourites, but the CEBL season is always a grind – doubly so when you’re the team, everyone has their eyes on. However, they’re well positioned to make another run at the CEBL Finals with the new additions and should be the team to watch as the league begins to make its mark on TSN streaming platforms starting next week.

Thumbnail photo by Shaun McLeod

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