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A Rollercoaster of Memories and Talent: My View of the CEBL Final in Vancouver

Photo via thebandits.ca


 

As I settled into my seat at the CEBL Final in Vancouver, British Columbia, a wave of excitement and nostalgia washed over me. As a former basketball player from Ontario, I had grown up immersed in the world of hoops, spending countless hours watching videos of Myck Kabongo's lightning-quick moves and Kyree Walker's phenom-like skills. Little did I know that this championship game would bring back a flood of memories and create new moments to cherish.


A Trip Down Memory Lane


My journey into the world of basketball had been shaped by those awe-inspiring Ball Is Life and Hoop Mixtape videos. Myck Kabongo, the wiry and quick point guard, was a source of inspiration. His ability to zip up and down the court while making jaw-dropping passes in transition reminded me of a young Brandon Jennings. From his days at Findlay Prep to committing to the University of Texas, I had followed Kabongo's journey closely, forging a connection to the Longhorns that has stayed with me ever since.


Kyree Walker's emergence on social media was a spectacle in itself. A larger-than-life talent, Walker's highlights made him seem like an NBA lock from an early age. I vividly recalled his appearances at the MSHTV camp, where his unique skills and towering presence left a lasting impression. Watching him play in the CEBL Final brought me full circle, reminding me of the incredible journey these athletes had undertaken.


Players I've Coached Against and Watched Compete


As the game unfolded, familiar faces took the court, triggering memories of intense battles. Sean Miller-Moore's high-flying prowess, reminiscent of his Thornlea days, had left an indelible mark. His connections to players like Oshae Brissett, Jahvon Blair, and Jordan Lyons created a tapestry of Canadian basketball excellence that resonated with me.


Stef Smith, the shot-making maestro from Bill Crothers, showcased his skills on a grand stage. His journey from the OSBA to St. John's and Vermont was a testament to his dedication and talent. Deon Ejim's clashes with AI Prep had been a sight to behold, and witnessing his skills in action during the final was a gratifying experience.


Simi Shittu, a standout with the Windy City Bulls, embodied the competitive edge that fans yearn for. His G-League experience, alongside players like Cat Barber and Justin Jackson, elevated the league's credibility and excitement. Elijah Lufile also has G-League experience for the SSS, he's the younger brother of my prep teammate Abednego Lufile. Abednego & I played together at REDA and ended up winning the legendary Guy Vetrie tournament in Sault Ste. Marie, ON.


Kalif Young's presence stirred memories of Orangeville Prep's rise to prominence. The impact of programs like Orangeville Prep on Canadian basketball couldn't be understated, and Young's contributions were a testament to the program's success.


A Full Circle Journey


My involvement in basketball had extended beyond the court, as I had the privilege of being on the BioSteel All Canadian Selection committee. Working alongside individuals like Mike De Giorgio of the SSS allowed for another full circle moment because I texted him after this championship just like I did when him & Chris Exilus (SSS Head Coach) won the OSBA Championship earlier this season with Royal Crown. Getting to connect with coaches like Mario Celebre who is also on the Shooting Stars staff has allowed me to witness the growth of Canadian talent through a closer lens. Evaluating players & building relationships with coaches who would eventually shine in the CEBL Final was a gratifying experience that came full circle.



As the final buzzer sounded, I couldn't help but reflect on the whirlwind of emotions and memories that had accompanied me throughout the game. The CEBL Final in Vancouver had been a symphony of talent, nostalgia, and appreciation for the incredible journey of Canadian basketball. From the early days of watching YouTube highlights to experiencing these athletes' triumphs on the court, the CEBL Final had truly been a celebration of the sport I love. Congratulations Scarborough, Sam Ibrahim & the entire team, I can only imagine the party on the flight back to the endsss.



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