Blackjacks report cards

The Ottawa BlackJacks’ first five games of the season are in the books. And just as students across the country are eagerly awaiting their final report cards for the year, I’m sure everyone on the roster is waiting for their first. That’s where I come in.

Now, while obviously the team has not played up to standards, I’ll be doing my best to grade the players best on their individual performances. So I don’t want to hear about how everyone deserves an F. Got it? Good.

Photo: Greg Mason (Ottawa BlackJacks)

Deng Adel

Grade: A

Adel made it clear from the first game of the season that he was going to be the star for this team. While he hasn’t come close to replicating his 37-point opening night performance, he’s been the teams most reliable player game-in and game-out.

On the year, he is averaging 19.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5 assists a game while shooting a ridiculous .625% from the field and .667% from deep. Those numbers would actually be even higher, but he was injured and pulled from the last game against the Nighthawks, which limited his production.

The most surprising part of Adel’s game has undoubtedly been his shooting. Watching him in the G-League (albeit in a small sample size), he was seemingly unable to make a jumper if his life depended on it. However, he was still able to perform thanks to his ability to score at the rim. His work improving his shot since then is both noticeable and commendable. He’s been scoring at all three levels this season and will need to continue to do so if the BlackJacks hope to right the ship.

Maxime Boursiquot

Grade: B+

Perhaps it’s due to lowered expectations, but Boursiquot has been a revelation for the BlackJacks so far.

The first-year pro is putting up 8.4 points and 4.8 rebounds a night, hitting 50% from the floor and from three. But even more important than his scoring has been his impact on defence. He averages 1.8 steals a contest and is constantly pressuring the opposing team’s best player. While the team as a whole has been porous on that side of the ball, Boursiquot has been the lone bright spot.

He got the nod to start the first 4 games of the season, but will now be coming off the bench with the arrival of Jackson Rowe and – eventually – Tommy Scrubb. Given his skillset, he will still play a major role in the team’s success going forward, and could find himself playing important minutes in big games.

Photo: Greg Mason (Ottawa BlackJacks)

Walt Lemon Jr.

Grade: B-

It’s thus far been an up-and-down season for Lemon Jr., who was expected to in the MVP conversation coming into the season.

First, let’s address the thing I hear the most about from fans and fellow media members alike: his game. Walt is a slashing, dribble-drive scorer, which people apparently aren’t too fond of from the point guard position. Me? I don’t care how you get your buckets, as long as you can do so consistently and without disrupting the flow of the team offense; at least from my vantage point, he checks both those boxes.

However, I will admit that his shooting form is janky, which leaves a lot of points at both the three-point line (where he shoots just .235%) and the charity stripe (60%). More concerning has been his tendency to turn the ball over, doing so 17 times over the last 3 games.

Still, he’s scored at least 12 points in every game so far, and is averaging 16.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists.

The turnovers are most likely due to him feeling as though he has to do too much on offense. Hopefully, as he and the rest of the team settles in, he’ll get more comfortable in his role and do a better job with ball distribution. Once that happens, it will also open up better looks for him both from the mid-range and at the basket.

The sooner that happens for the BlackJacks, the better.

Chad Posthumus

Grade: C

While we’re on the topic of up-and-down play, let’s address the 6’11’ 265-pound elephant in the room.

Posthumus was brought in to be a leader for the team and an anchor on the court. While he’s fulfilled the first part of that role off of the court, he’s been anything but on the floor.

Posthumus’ game relies almost entirely on his size and athleticism. He’s not much of a shooter and his fundamentals aren’t great, but he’s always been able to work his way inside and put up points in the paint. The problem is, now that he’s older and has had multiple surgeries, he’s lost a step, and those deficiencies in the basics are becoming glaring.

His footwork is sloppy on both sides of the floor, and he doesn’t do things like committing to box outs or look for the outside shooter. This makes it easy for players to get past him on defense and close out on him on offense because there’s no threat of him doing anything other than trying to get a bucket in the cylinder.

He’s still averaging 10.2 points and 8.8 rebounds a game, but a lot of those are empty stats that don’t directly impact the result of the game. It’s up to Posthumus and the new coaching staff to find a better way to utilize him on the floor, because the way he’s playing now just isn’t working.

Photo: Greg Mason (Ottawa BlackJacks)

Bernard Thompson

Grade: C-

Thompson was the last player to sign with the BlackJacks, so I don’t want to be too hard on him because he’s had the least amount of time to get use to his teammates and the system.

However, he was brough on after Jared Wilson-Frame was unable to join the team and Corey Johnson was cut after training camp. That left a serious hole in shooting ability at the off guard position, and Jevohn Shepherd was hopeful that Thompson would be able to fill that void. That hasn’t been the case.

Thompson is putting up just 8.5 points a game and shooting just .341% from the floor and .313% from deep. He hasn’t been able to find any sort of rhythm yet, but again, he’s only been with the team for a short time.

He’s looked better on defense, nabbing 1.5 steals a contest and often being a plus player despite the team taking double-digit loses. Of all the players on the Ottawa roster, Thompson is the one I have the most hope for in turning around his season. We just better hope that happens soon.

Shamiel Stevenson

Grade: C-

This one will be short and sweet.

I almost had Stevenson as an ‘Incomplete’, as although he’s played in 4 of the 5 games, it’s mostly been spot minutes. However, in his last contest, he was able to get a good run in, scoring 11 points in 15 minutes on 4-of-6 shooting.

He hadn’t shown enough previously to really warrant an increase in minutes, but when the chips fell his way, he made the most of it. If he continues to show marked improvement, he could conceivably start to get some more meaningful minutes thrown his way and make an impact on the team.

Cody John

Grade: D+

There’s no two ways about it: Cody John’s run as a BlackJacks has been a major disappointment.

During his two year run with the Hamilton Honey Badgers, John had established himself as one of the best sixth-men in the CEBL. He had averaged over 8 points a night in just over 16 minutes, and it was expected that he would be able to step into a bigger role this season. While it hasn’t been for a lack of opportunities, he hasn’t lived up to expectations.

John has shot a putrid .268% and .167% from the floor and the arc, respectively. He’s also a near zero factor on defense and doesn’t facilitate much for others either.

The only thing preventing him from getting an even lower grade was his performance against the Newfoundland Growlers. That game saw him score 11 points and dish out 8 assists on a not terrible 3-for-8 shooting performance. The BlackJacks scrapped out a one-point victory in that game – their sole victory thus far – and John’s ability to step up obviously played a big part in that.

While we can’t expect that kind of playmaking from him every game (he only has 2 assists combined in the other 4 games), that kind of shooting needs to be the norm for him going forward.

Zena Edosomwan

Grade: D+

There really isn’t much to say about Edosomwan.

He puts up a decent 4.0 points and 3.2 rebounds a game – perfectly acceptable numbers for a back up center. But it’s not as though there’s a major impact made whenever he steps on the floor on either side of the court. Honestly, you could be forgiven for not knowing that he’s even out there.

For a guy with the sheer size and athleticism of Zena, that’s a problem. He should be enforcing his will on players in the paint, but that’s just not happening. Perhaps the team should think about giving Ryan Wright some looks this season, because in 5 games, Edosomwan hasn’t inspired me much.

Nervens Demosthene

Grade: D+

After having one of the best seasons by a U SPORTS player last season, Demosthene has been nearly invisible so far in his BlackJacks tenure.

When he’s gotten minutes, he’s actually been a decent shooter. But clearly he has somehow lost the trust of the coaching staff and been relegated to spot minutes.

It’s an unfortunate turn of events for a guy who proved he can continue to perform well even in the face of adversity last year. He was one of the most reliable players on a terrible Saskatchewan Rattlers squad that finished just 1-13 for the year.

Here’s hoping he can get some more looks as the season goes on, because its not as if the players in front of him are earning their time anyway.

Photo: Greg Mason (Ottawa BlackJacks)

Tyrell Green

Grade: D-

…And Green gets the dubious honour of having the worst grade on the team. But don’t worry, he’s earned it.

Absolutely nothing has gone right for Green this year. He’s shooting below 30%. He doesn’t rebound nearly as well as you would think for someone his size. He doesn’t create opportunities for players around him. And he’s a sub-par defender.

In his defense, he is coming off a major injury, so this is his first game time in about 6 months, so there’s going to be some serious rust and he may not even be 100% yet. But he hasn’t brought anything at all to this BlackJacks squad, and I seriously question why he continues to get minutes.

He had a couple of games where he showed something, which is the only thing preventing him from getting an F. But unless he starts to do that with any sort of consistency, I have to question his spot on the roster, let alone the lineup.


Jackson Rowe, Aiden Warnholtz, Guillaume Pepin


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