In Ty Rowell’s final high school basketball game, the graduating senior helped the Walnut Grove Gators capture the BC 4A Boys Basketball Tournament.
That game was played at Langley Events Centre five years ago and Rowell is back and ready to hit that same LEC court, this time as a professional as he debuts for the Fraser Valley Bandits in the 2022 Canadian Elite Basketball League season.
“There is obviously pressure, but it’s fun. I love playing basketball and it’s my hometown … there is nothing better than that,” Rowell said on Friday, May 21, during the Bandits’ media day ahead of their CEBL season opener on May 25 in Ottawa against the BlackJacks.
It is part of a three-game easter road trip for Fraser Valley before they make their Langley Events Centre home debut on June 4 (2:00pm) against the Saskatchewan Rattlers.
Rowell – who went south after high school and starred at California Baptist University, earning Western Athletic Conference (WAC) all-star honours – is one of four local players on the Bandits roster, alongside Delta’s Sukhjot Bains and Adam Paige and Sukhman Sandhu, who are both out of Surrey.
Providing a place to play for local talent is one of the fundamental goals of the CEBL
“I think it is extremely important; that is one of the reasons why I came back to help out because basketball has done so much for me, and this community has done so much for me to get to the level I have gotten to,” said Rob Sacre, who serves as a senior advisor to Bandits president Dylan Kular.
READ MORE: Fraser Valley bandits announce schedule
Sacre starred for North Vancouver’s Handsworth Royals before playing collegiately at Gonzaga and was then drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, playing four seasons with the NBA team.
The rest of the roster features Edmonton’s Geoffrey James, Australia’s Kyle Adnam and Americans Maxie Esho, Shane Gibson and Usama Zaid, with all five being newcomers to the CEBL.
“Let’s give (General Manager) Kyle Julius a lot of credit – he has done a great job of building a core based on team and toughness. We have tried to establish that as valuable for us as well,” said head coach Mike Taylor.
While Taylor is a rookie coach in the CEBL with the Bandits, he brings a wealth of experience, having been a head coach of Poland’s men’s national team and in the G League. He was with the Polish national team from 2014 to 2021, helping the country rise from 42nd in the world to 13th.
“I think when you watch some of the teams I have coached … you see a real team-oriented system, you see hopefully great ball movement, great pace, a commitment to defend. I hope when people come (our) way, they say those guys are fun to watch,” he said.
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