Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CEBL

Revamped BlackJacks hungry for more as CEBL season approaches

Assistant GM Andy Rautins sets the tone for winning formula for Ottawa Blackjacks

Ottawa Blackjacks Johnny Berhanemeskel Attacks The Basket Against Guelph Nighthawks During 2020 CEBL Summer Series
Ottawa Blackjacks Johnny Berhanemeskel Attacks The Basket Against Guelph Nighthawks During 2020 CEBL Summer Series - Photo: CEBL

Despite advancing to the semifinals of the CEBL Summer Series last season as an expansion franchise, the Ottawa BlackJacks did not see cause for celebration.

Instead, Ottawa embarked on a busy offseason that began with the notable hiring of Jevohn Shepherd and Andy Rautins as general manager and assistant general manager, respectively.

From there, the pair of former Canadian national team members hired a new coach and overhauled the roster ahead of the Canadian Elite Basketball League’s third season which is scheduled to begin on June 24.

“We wanted to come in and we wanted results immediately,” says Rautins. “We wanted to keep some of the core the same, but at the same time, we wanted to do the best job possible to bring in the guys that we deemed ready to win.

“We assembled a roster with high character guys first and talent second. I think that’s what you have to do to build a successful team.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Not far removed from a successful playing career both in North America and overseas, Rautins, 34, has quickly embraced the next phase of his basketball journey with the BlackJacks.

“It’s been an amazing experience and I’m very humbled to be a part of this organization,” Rautins said. “It’s gone about as seamlessly as it can given the fact that we’re still in a pandemic, doing a lot of this long distance.

“[Team president Michael Cvitkovic] and Jevohn have made my job really easy. I think we all have a really great chemistry across the board. So putting the team together has been fun and we’re really looking forward to getting the season started.”

Fraser Valley Bandits Junior Cadougan Goes For Layup Against Ottawa Blackjacks At 2020 Cebl Summer Series
Fraser Valley Bandits Guard Junior Cadougan goes for layup against Ottawa Blackjacks at 2020 CEBL Summer Series – Photo: CEBL

When the BlackJacks face the Niagara River Lions in the opener for both clubs, Ottawa’s revamped roster will feature some familiar names in Junior Cadougan, Kyle Johnson, and Joel Friesen along with returning sharpshooter Johnny Berhanemeskel.

Must Read:
2021 CEBL schedule release offers hope for fans of Canadian Basketball

For Johnson, who recently returned from a professional stint with Njardvik in Iceland, signing with Ottawa was an easy decision.

“I always look for the best opportunity no matter what it is and I feel like Ottawa was the best opportunity for me,” says Johnson.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“I really like what the organization is doing with Jevohn and Andy. I’m excited. I think it’s a perfect fit for me and I’m just looking forward to it.”

It is clear that Johnson has a high level of respect for both Shepherd and Rautins.

“I just like what they’ve got going on – some guys that I can lean on for experience and for basketball, for life and stuff,” Johnson said.

Ottawa Blackjacks Guard Olivier Hanlan Running The Offense During 2020 CEBL Summer Series
Ottawa Blackjacks Guard Olivier Hanlan Running The Offense During 2020 CEBL Summer Series – Photo: CEBL

“It’s a good fit and also it’s close to home. And then the player personnel, I think it’s a really good team. So all those things combined, I think it’s going to be a really good situation.”

Clearly the feelings are mutual between Johnson and the BlackJacks.

“I’ve had the chance to work out with [Johnson] a few times, and he’s just a great guy,” says Rautins. “He’s a locker room guy and I think that’s what we pride ourselves on and build our foundation on is just having really high character guys and he fits the bill.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

As the BlackJacks now set their sights on improvement over last season, the recipe for success sounds pretty simple.

“We looked at our weaknesses from last year and our statistics and we tried to fill those gaps,” says Rautins. “Our roster, I think reflects the weaknesses from last year’s team. I think that’s pretty standard for how any organization should go about building and trying to be successful the following year.”

7 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

 

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

I agree to these terms.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Advertisement

BUZZING

CEBL

Hitting the stretch run of the season, week six of the top ten BasketballBuzz 2022 CEB standout performers showered us with an all-time classic...

CEBL

Officially at the halfway mark of the season. Week five of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) brings us closer to award season.

CEBL

Week two of the BasketballBuzz Top 10 Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) had it all -- intriguing cross-country match-ups, a record setting scoring performance,...

CEBL

Week one of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) is in the books. Pushed into the mainstream media by the surprise signing of hip-hop...

CEBL

The Scarborough Shooting Stars of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) have announced the signing hip-hop star J. Cole.

NBA

Seven days after winning his third straight national U Sports basketball championship, Ottawa basketball star Lloydi Pandi becomes the first Carleton Ravens player to...

NBA

Fiction or Fact? We demystify six important incorrect facts about the history of Canadian basketball.

CEBL

Using a multidimensional attack, the Niagara River Lions delivered a statement to the rest of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) with a convincing...

BasketballBuzz - Canada's Basketball Magazine