Canadian Elite Basketball League Joins Forces With U SPORTS

League Partnership Creates Opportunities for University Men’s Basketball Players

U SPORTS announced a partnership with the CEBL on Tuesday morning. Courtesy U SPORTS

U SPORTS announced on Twitter and through a press release Tuesday morning that it will be partnering with the Canadian Elite Basketball League, a new professional men’s basketball league expected to begin play in spring 2019.

The CEBL, the official professional league partner of Canada Basketball, will open its inaugural season in May with franchises across the country in Edmonton, Guelph, Hamilton, Fraser Valley (Abbotsford), Saskatchewan (Saskatoon), and Niagara (St. Catharines).

According to a press release, the collaboration will offer university men’s basketball players professional opportunities beyond their university careers, allowing them to sign developmental contracts that will help them to work on their game throughout the summer months.

The top athletes in U SPORTS will be entered into a draft set to take place after the 2019 U SPORTS Men’s Basketball Final 8 playoff tournament at Dalhousie University, scheduled to wrap up in mid-March.

U SPORTS is Canada’s governing body for university sports and currently has 48 Canadian university teams participating.

“We are excited to partner with the CEBL and give our men’s basketball student-athletes the chance to stay in Canada to pursue their dreams,” said U SPORTS President and CEO Graham Brown in a press release. “We are happy to see the sport of basketball grow at home following Canada’s recent qualification for the FIBA World Cup and help create a bright future for the sport across the country.”

Canada has seen a lot of growth in the strength of its basketball program with the success of its national team in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers, and the success of Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett with the NCAA Division One powerhouse Duke Blue Devils.

This partnership may help to make a professional career seem more in reach for Canada’s basketball talent, and endorsement from a professional league, even in its beginning stages, serves to validate the hard work and talent of Canadian university men’s basketball players.

This isn’t the first league partnership we’ve seen in the last few months. In October 2018, U SPORTS announced a partnership with the Canadian Premier League, a professional men’s soccer league set to take the field in April 2019. Both partnerships follow similar structures and aim to offer student-athletes professional opportunities.

CEBL teams will play a 20-game regular season from May. 9 to Aug. 15, culminating with a league championship playoff at a site to be announced. CEBL rosters will be predominantly comprised of Canadians playing professionally during the traditional basketball season in addition to a certain number of international and U SPORTS players.

“Partnering with U SPORTS to help grow the rising stars of basketball in this country really excites us,” said Mike Morreale, Chief Executive Officer of the CEBL in Tuesday’s press release.