The 2013 National Basketball League of Canada draft brought nine Canadians including, for the first time, a Canadian number one overall selection into Canadian pro basketball. Alex Johnson became the first Canadian number one pick drafted by the expansion Ottawa SkyHawks.
“It was definitely a surprise to me, it’s a blessing” said Johnson, a former guard at North Carolina State. “I know Ottawa’s a great city and the fans are very supportive. I’m trying to bring leadership and be a people person and hopefully be one of the fan favourites. Whatever the team needs from me then that’s what I’ll bring.”
Held in Markham, Ontario at the Hilton Suites GTA Centre there were more than 400 players, family, friends, coaches, managers and fans in attendance. For the first time, the NBL Canada draft was open to the public and free of admission.
Among the other Canadian players drafted were Bol Kong (fourth to Mississauga Power) Jermel Kennedy (sixth to Moncton Miracles) and Mike Luby (seventh to Saint John Mill Rats) making it four Canadians in the top seven. Ottawa selected Canadians Manock Lual 11th and Jerome Brown 21st and Moncton added homegrown talent in Aleks Mitrovic 16th and Anto Raic 25th, both teams firmly establishing their Canadian content.
“Alex is amazing to be the first Canadian to go number one and he’s certainly worthy of it,” said NBL Canada COO Ian McCarthy. “But also just the number of Canadians who went early and in the first round was very impressive.”
“We spent a lot of time this summer trying to educate Canadian players on the league and I think you’re seeing some of the results pay off where they see that this is a viable option for them. The world is on notice that Canadian basketball is on the rise.”
Other notable selections include Brent Jennings, second overall to the Brampton A’s, Raven Barber, third overall to the Halifax Rainmen, and Gerald Devaughan, selected fifth overall by the Halifax Rainmen.
The third season of the National Basketball League of Canada will tip-off November 1st and each of the nine teams will play 40 games. Come out and support your local team and feel the energy of Canada’s pro basketball league!