Crown League’s third season started with a bang on Friday night inside Kerr Hall at Ryerson University, as the six squads in Toronto’s premier summer league pro-am took to the floor in chase of a championship.
Nike has stepped Crown up to another level this season, as the gym has gone through a brand new makeover (decked out with an elevated DJ booth and theatre lighting), the league is now NCAA-sanctioned which allows some of Canada’s best and brightest young prospects to participate, and each team debuted the brand new Nike Zoom KD 10’s on court.
There’s a bunch of players from U SPORTS both past and present competing this season. Here’s how they fared:
Game 1: ONE Love T.O. 69 – 58 Northern Kings
Brady Heslip put on a show for the crowd in the early game, ending up as the leading scorer for ONE Love with 28 points, but of interest to U SPORTS fans was the former Dalhousie Tiger and AUS MVP Simon Farine. Farine started and played well as ONE Love‘s glue guy to the tune of six points, four assists and a steal.
Also on ONE Love‘s roster is former Waterloo Warriors three-point marksman and gunner Srdjan Pejicic, who struggled through a 1/5 shooting night in limited run.
Adika Peter-McNeilly made his Crown League debut as the starting point guard for Northern Kings, but was unable to get into a rhythm offensively, as he finished 0/7 from the floor and scored his only point at the free throw line.
Peter-McNeilly did show good chemistry with his starting centre and former Rams teammate Kadeem Green, who was also fairly quiet on O but provided adequate rim protection for the Kings.
There are a bunch of former CIS All-Stars on the Kings roster for this season, including Acadia centre Owen Klassen, Queen’s wing Greg Faulkner, York big Nick Tufegdzich and freshly graduated Saint Mary’s guard Brian Rouse.
Game 2: 6 Man 64 – 46 CIA Bounce
6 Man easily dispatched CIA Bounce in the second game, as Tony McIntyre’s squad, made up of players past and present from his famed AAU program, struggled mightily with their shot-making against the incredibly athletic group that 6 Man brought to the floor.
JV Mukama had the best night of any university player, going 4/7 from the field for 11 points, while also tallying seven rebounds and four assists in a complete game effort. His Ryerson running mate for the upcoming season, Manny Diressa, had an off night from the floor, but salvaged his night at the foul line, converting on a perfect 6/6 clip at the stripe.
The other U SPORTS connection on 6 Man is former Western great and current Kitchener-Waterloo Titan Greg Morrow.
The lone university player for Bounce this season is Jaz Bains, who will be attending Queen’s and suiting up for Stephan Barrie next season.
Game 3: M.A.D.E. 79 – 74 ACE
The main event featured the two best teams from last season duking it out once again, with M.A.D.E. getting some revenge from last year’s loss in the title game to the Myck Kabongo-led ACE squad.
Aaron Best is the lone U SPORTS representative on M.A.D.E., and his return to Crown competition was a quiet one with just six points and three boards on the night.
ACE brings back former Cape Breton Caper Shaquille Keith this season, and have added two names very familiar to basketball fans in Ottawa, with newly graduated Gee-Gee Caleb Agada, and Carleton Raven Kaza Kajami-Keane being a part of the roster. Both players held their own against M.A.D.E‘s size on defence and will look to have their roles expand as Crown carries on.