The CEBL season has officially begun, as all teams have reported for training camp. That means it’s time for the third of what was supposed to be a two-part series introducing the team. In my defense, these latest signings come because Johnny Berhanemeskel and Dominique Archie are still finishing their seasons in France, which meant the BlackJacks were allowed to sign another 2 players for their training camp. So… I wasn’t totally wrong in guessing the roster was already full?
If you believe that phoney excuse (or even if you don’t), then allow me to introduce you to the newest members of the team. As always, I’ll offer a breakdown of their career and my expectations from them this season.
Since nothing has really changed my breakdown for the team, instead I’ll give you my predictions for the starting lineup and who will come off the bench.
Kris Joseph – F
Born in Montreal and forged in the crucible of the Syracuse basketball program, Joseph was a star for the Orange, averaging a nice and even 10.5 PTS, 4.5 REB & 1.5 AST over 140 games. He was named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list in 2011, and was the first Canadian to be named to the Big East Conference First All-Star team. After averaging 18.6 PTS & 4.6 REB over 27 G-League games, Joseph spent time with the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics before pursuing a career overseas. Overall, in 212 games played across Spain, France, Canada and Italy, Joseph has put up 10.4 PTS & 3.2 REB a game over his career. Last year with the Saskatchewan Rattlers, Joseph averaged 10.5 PTS & 1.8 REB in 4 games during the CEBL Summer Series.
Despite signing so late in the offseason, Joseph is another massive get for the BlackJacks. He was part of the first wave of Canadian stars that really led to the powerhouse basketball nation we’ve become. On top of his name value and skill, he’s also a natural 3, which is a position the BlackJacks needed some more depth in. Tyrell Green can play the position but is more of a big shooting guard, and Dominque Archie is more of a pick-and-pop big than a wing. Adding Joseph to the mix means someone will get less playing time, but it also means there will be more internal competition, which is never a bad thing.
Alain Louis – G
The fourth player to join the BlackJacks through the CEBL’s U SPORTS Development Program, Louis has played 45 games for the Carleton Ravens, where he has averaged 7.7 PTS & 2.2 REB a game. In his two most recent seasons, the Ravens won back-to-back OUA titles and U SPORTS National Championships, going a combined 43-2 over the stretch. He was drafted by the BlackJacks in the third round of the 2020 CEBL Draft, but didn’t see the court.
The BlackJacks had another roster spot to fill, and with the depth of the roster it was unlikely that whoever they signed would log any significant minutes during the season. I’m glad they used the spot to give another U SPORTS player a taste of the big show and allow him the opportunity to grow and learn from some of the more experienced players on the roster. With schools losing out a season due to the pandemic, it’s good to see another player go the chance to be on a team again.
Starters: Junior Cadougan, PG; Tyrell Green, SG; Kris Joseph, SF; Nick Ward, PF; Tahjai Teague, C
Rotation: Kyle Johnson, G/F; Earl Calloway, G; Joel Friesen, G; Eric Kibi, F; Ryan Wright, F
Bench: Kadre Gray, G; Alain Louis, G; Ali Sow, G; Guillaume Pepin, F; Grady Kanku, G
N/A: Johnny Berhanemeskel, G; Dominque Archie, F
Breakdown: First things first, I left Berhanemeskel and Archie out of the lineup because we don’t know when they’ll be back and this is a prediction for how the BlackJacks will look at the beginning of the season.
From the looks and sounds of things, Coach Dube-Brais is going to go with a more fluid lineup that focuses more on matchups and situations, but here’s my guess as to how they’ll start the season. With Johnny Buckets gone, Cadougan easily gets the nod to start at PG. For the sake of this exercise I put Green as a guard, though the team may very well view him as more of a forward. I think the team will want both Green and Joseph to get as many minutes as possible, so that will probably be an adjustment they’ll be willing to make to ensure that happens. I’m also of the belief that the BlackJacks will want to see what they have in Ward and Teague before turning to the more experienced front court players, which is why I have them tabbed as the starters.
The eventual arrival of Berhanemeskel and Archie will surely cause some major shakeups as they’re bound to both see a significant amount of floor time, but that’s a good problem for the BlackJacks to have. This is a strong lineup that will get even stronger. The team is looking poised to make a deep run this year.