It is usually evident very early in the recruiting process of a typical Canadian high school player where CIS as a destination for continuing their student/athlete basketball careers presently stacks up as a priority. In the vast majority of cases, the well-marketed and well-financed appeal of “going south” – whether warranted or not – make up choices 1 through n for even the most marginally talented recruits, with Canadian universities generally an after-thought to be considered when all other avenues fall through. The subject of why for several decades this has continued to be an issue – without any collective meaningful changes from the executive constituents of the CIS – is a discussion/debate for another time. But what cannot be argued is that the CIS remains a very reasonable path for CIS alumni to continue their playing careers as professionals overseas.
To wit, no less than 19 CIS alumni are presently playing professionally and many with great success. A list of these players is shown below and most are enjoying strong success combining pursuing their passion with culture and personal growth. Much thanks to fellow junkie in Southern Alberta for the link to the list.
Unfortunately, despite ample evidence that the CIS is and has been a very reasonable path for players to pursue a professional playing career after graduation, few if any recruits ever consider that connection. Over and above Canada’s world class academic institutions and in my opinion a pool of world class basketball coaches, most high schoolers making their post-secondary choice with a view of developing their games to the level of being able to play professionally overlook to their detriment how CIS basketball can provide that stepping stone.
Last season’s CIS graduating class was among the deepest and more successful in recent memory with Carleton’s Phil Scrubb (Fraport Skyliners, German First Division) and Thomas Scrubb (Kataja Basket – Finland), uOttawa’s Johnny Berhanemeskel (TLÜ/Kalev in Estonia), Calgary’s Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson (Galitos Tley – Portugal), Ryerson’s Jahmal Jones (Svitavy, Czech Republic), Victoria’s Chris McLaughlin (Gmunden – Austria) and York’s Nick Tufegdzich (Paderborn – Germany) among the players who have graduated to the pros.
In many cases, playing professionally, especially in Europe, can be somewhat-culture-shocking. Phil Scrubb, who showed well in a pair of stints in NBA summer league and playing for Canada propelling him to a Division 1 Greek League contract with AEK Athens, found that some teams are better fits than others. Scrubb made the difficult choice to switch teams mid-season, moving to Germany to play for Canadian-bred coach Gord Herbert – along with fellow Carleton grad and Canadian national teammate Aaron Doornekamp in Germany with Fraport Skyliners (Frankfurt). Scrubb has been outstanding since the move – his team is 5-0 and he is averaging 17 ppg at the point – and is poised to again help Canada qualify for Rio this summer.
Brother Thomas Scrubb, who was the final cut on Canada’s Pan-Am team, chose a different route, signing with Kataja Basket in Finland and is displaying his all-round game well, starting at the 3 spot and averaging about 14 points and 9 rebounds for 18-4 team which leads the Korisligia standings. Fellow American starters are 6’8″ Lamayn Wilson (Troy), 6’4″ Trevis Simpson (UNC Greensboro) and 7’0″ Carson Desroisiers (Providence). Scrubb leads the team in rebounding and is third on the team in scoring for a team that also is playing in the FIBA Europe Cup competition. Expect the brothers to find a way to get back on the same team to play together again at some point during their careers.
Defending Moser trophy winner 6’3″ Johnny Berhanemeskel waited until late in the summer and then the hard-working gym rat who earned everything he’s got through his own dedication and hard work signed with an Estonian club: TLÜ/Kalev based in the capital city of Estonia: Tallin. Leading his team to second place currently at 9-6 in 4th place in the Axelela KML standings, Johnny is averaging 18 ppg to lead his team which includes American starters 6’6″ Tom Droney (Davidson) and 6’9″ Zack Atkinson (UC-Irvine).
Calgary Dino grad and Winnipeg, MB native Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson has found a home playing for Galitos Tley in the Liga Portuguesa de Basquetebol (LPB) in Portugal. Playing along-side fellow CIS grad 6’8″ Jordan Baker, the pair of Canadians have led Galitos to an 11-6 record, good for 3rd place in the 11 team league. Jarred averages over 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game, setting the table for Baker (17.5 ppg/8.6 rpg). Joining the two in the starting lineup is U.S.-bred 6’7″ 29 year old New York City native Darren Townes (Hofstra).
Slick 6’0″ Ryerson alumnus Jahmal Jones has wasted no time putting his imprint on his first professional club: Qanto Turi Svitavy in Czech Republic. Jones is second in scoring from the point guard spot at nearly 16 ppg, adding 5 rebounds and a team-leading 5 assists. Teammates on Svitavy (10-16, 8th place) include 6’11” Riley Barker (White Rock Christian Academy in Surrey, B.C. and the University of Portland), 6’8″ Evan Bruinsma (Detroit Mercy) and 6’7″ Nicchaeus Dokes (UT-Chattanooga).
One of the more underrated big men to graduate from CIS ranks over the years, 6’11” Chris McLaughlin, who developed his Euro skill set while at UVic – adding the ability to be a pick-and-pop 3 point threat among other skills – has taken his game to Gmunden (Austria – A Bundesliga), averaging about 10 points and 7 rebounds per game. Also on this team are Americans Trey Johnson (6’8″, Hawaii-Hilo) and Jemal Farmer (6’5″ Arkansas).
York grad Nick Tufegdzich, a solid face-up four man, averages 7 points and 5 rebounds per game for Paderborn Finke Baskets in Germany where he is joined in the starting lineup with 6’5″ Matt Vest (Wright State), 5’10” Chase Adams (Pitt) and 6’7″ Morgan Grim (Utah State).
Others from CIS programs currently playing in Europe or elsewhere overseas include: Sean Anthony (McGill/Philippines), Ross Bekkering (Calgary, Holland), Jordan Clarke (St. FX/Glasgow Rocks, U.K.), Troy Gottselig (Saskatchewan), Tyson Hinz (Carleton/ Holland), Owen Klassen (Acadia/Germany), Ali Mahmoud (uOttawa/Lebanon), Robbie Sihota (Calgary/Hungary), Simon Farine (Dalhousie, Israel), Greg Surmacz (Windsor/Poland).
Plenty of opportunities for growth as a student/athlete available at CIS basketball programs as a development ground for successful professional playing careers overseas.