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Multiple players return for second NBLC Draft Combine session

By Justin Prince

Note: This story was originally published on NBLCentral.

The second day of the National Basketball League of Canada Draft Combine has a lot of familiar faces.

Many of the players from Day 1 of the league’s signature event are back at the Athlete Institute today to try and show coaches and general managers more of what they can do. There are also a few new faces at the Mono, Ont. facility, including former NBA Development League shooting guard Ta’Quan Zimmerman and NBL Canada veteran Fred Sturdivant.

There are 55 players in today’s combine overall.

Kyle Julius, head coach of the London Lightning, said he mainly looked for players who showed energy yesterday.

“There was a handful of guys that I noticed who were two-way players and had good energy (yesterday),” said London Lightning head coach Kyle Julius. “You could really start to see guys break down and get tired. There were four guys who were standing out who didn’t look tired who were still playing hard at the end. Then I noticed a lot of guys who were hanging onto their shorts and hunched over, physically tired and broken down.

“The way we (the team) play, we want to have guys who are in great shape that can play with high energy in the fourth quarter or a back-to-back.”

Some of the players who returned include guard Chris Van Buren, former National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-American and guard Devin Harris and 26-year-old Ndubisi Ezeigwe.

Ezeigwe, who played for the NCAA Division II Franklin Pierce Ravens in 2013-14, felt he played well in yesterday’s combine. He said he was returning in hopes to make a good impression and gain some additional attention heading into the draft.

“The reason I came back was because I felt what’s the worst that can happen? If the opportunity to do something presents itself, do it,” said Ezeigwe. “I see it as a second opportunity playing … and as a redemption.”

Cameron Ray Smith, who graduated from Roanoke College in Virginia earlier this year, also returned to the combine solely to pitch himself to coaches. He had prepared for the second day by a document with of every NBLC coach and general manager.

Smith, who played in his fourth NBLC combine yesterday, is also using the opportunity to take notes of today’s participants. Smith noted he received compliments about his play on the defensive end of the floor, something his prides himself in.

Smith, 22, said it was using the day as a learning opportunity for meeting GMs and how to portray himself professionally in a short period. He was also impressed with the combine itself.

“It’s been fun,” said Smith. “It’s been a great experience. I’m impressed with the commissioner (David Magley) and the league itself and the professionalism surrounding the whole thing.” Julius said players introducing themselves helps them stand out. It also helps the athletes know what may be the best team for them in NBL Canada.

“With the amount of time we have with them here, so many of these kids here have to try and find a way to stand out,” said Julius. “It’s just about introducing themselves, being articulate and knowing us as coaches as a little bit of a way to help us to get to know them … For the most part, it’s nicer for them to do that because there are so many kids and it’s hard to stand out.”

Both Ezeigwe and Smith hope they stood enough to be selected in this evening’s draft.

“It’s just an honour to be here and a blessing,” said Smith. I’m excited and hopefully I’ll be on a team.”

The combine will end at 5 p.m. EST. It will then be followed by the 2016 NBL Canada Entry Draft.

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