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U SPORTS standouts selected in 2023 CEBL Draft

The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) held its annual U SPORTS draft, selecting 20 student-athletes from 17 Canadian universities over two rounds of selections.

Najee Brown-Henderson (Windsor), Diego Maffia (Victoria), Simon Hildebrandt (Manitoba), David Muenkat (STFX) and twenty (20) Canadian University basketball standouts were selected in the 2023 CEBL USPORTS Draft.
Najee Brown-Henderson (Windsor), Diego Maffia (Victoria), Simon Hildebrandt (Manitoba), David Muenkat (STFX) and twenty (20) Canadian University basketball standouts were selected in the 2023 CEBL USPORTS Draft. - Photo/Illustration: Edilson J. Silva

As the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) continues to expand and gain recognition, the league’s annual U SPORTS draft has become an increasingly important event for Canadian basketball.

The CEBL conducted its 2023 CEBL U SPORTS Draft and picked 20 student-athletes from 17 Canadian universities over two rounds of selections. This year’s class promises to be a talented pool of young basketball stars, who are eager to practice and play alongside veteran pros from the NBA, NBA G League, Canadian National team, and top international leagues.

Below is a breakdown of all the top ten picks selected in the 2023 CEBL U SPORTS Draft.

Simon Hildebrand – Winnipeg Sea Bears

Winnipeg’s very own Simon Hildebrandt made history when he was selected as the first-ever CEBL U SPORTS Draft pick for the expansion Winnipeg Sea Bears. The local 6’9″ forward from Mennonite Brethren Collegiate had an outstanding freshman season with the Manitoba Bisons leading them to an outstanding 18-2 season and one win short of a trip to the Final 8.

During the 2022-23 season, Hildebrandt’s impressive performance earned him the Dr. Peter Mullins Trophy for U SPORTS Rookie of the Year honours and a Second Team All-Canadian title, averaging 16.9 points and five rebounds per game.

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Throughout his debut season, Hildebrandt had several notable performances, including a career-high of 28 points on two occasions and 10 rebounds in a game against Winnipeg. In separate games, he also achieved a career-high of 7 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. His best shooting performance came against Winnipeg, where he made 8 field goals and played a career-high 40 minutes.

Aryan Sharm – Montréal Alliance

The Montréal Alliance made a power move in the 2023 CEBL U SPORTS Draft, selecting Aryan Sharma with the second overall pick. The 6-foot-4 guard from Milton, Ontario finished his career at Western University as a standout player.

Sharma’s final year with the Mustangs was nothing short of remarkable. He started in all 22 games, averaging a team-high 35.5 minutes per game while putting up 23.4 points per game. He showed his range from beyond the arc, making 57 of his 154 attempts.

Additionally, Sharma displayed his range from beyond the arc, making 57 out of 154 attempts, and proved to be an asset on the defensive end, collecting 20 blocks and 41 steals throughout the season.

Mason Bourcier – Calgary Surge

The Calgary Surge picked Mason Bourcier from Trinity Western University as their first-round selection. Bourcier, a 6-foot-4 guard from Kelowna, B.C., averaged 20.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in 20 games played. He was named a Canada West Team All-Star and a U SPORTS Second Team All-Canadian. Bourcier is a versatile playmaker who can score from beyond the arc and also create opportunities for his teammates. He should be a solid contributor to the Surge’s offence.

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Somto Dimanochie – Edmonton Stingers

Somto Dimanochie was the fourth overall pick in the 2023 CEBL U SPORTS Draft, selected by the Edmonton Stingers. Dimanochie is a 6-foot-8 forward from York University Lions who averaged a career and team-high 20.3 points and 10.9 rebounds in, 2022-23. He was picked 11th overall by Edmonton in the 2022 CEBL U SPORTS Draft. Dimanochie is a dominant rebounder who can also score effectively in the paint. His physicality and intensity should help the Stingers compete in the front court.

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Anthony Tsegakele – Saskatchewan Rattlers:

The Saskatchewan Rattlers selected Anthony Tsegakele of Brandon University with the fifth overall pick. Tsegakele is a 6-foot-5 guard who has been drafted three consecutive years in the CEBL, after being picked fourth overall last year by Saskatchewan and sixth overall in 2021 by the Vancouver Bandits. He averaged 18.5 points and 5.4 rebounds in, 2022-23, earning himself Canada West First Team All-Star honours. Tsegakele is a versatile scorer who can drive to the basket or shoot from beyond the arc, making him a valuable asset to the Rattlers’ offense.

Diego Maffia – Fraser Valley Bandits

Maffia, the sixth overall pick in the 2023 CEBL U SPORTS Draft, is a rising star from the University of Victoria who is expected to be a key player for the Vancouver Bandits. Maffia was the top scorer in U SPORTS last season, averaging 24.9 points per game and earning the Canada West Player of the Year award.

He also helped lead his team to a Canada West Championship. Maffia’s explosive scoring ability, as evidenced by his high school record of 96 points in a single game, makes him a promising addition to the Bandits’ roster.

Sukhman Sandhu – Ottawa Blackjacks

Sukhman Sandhu, a six-foot-10 centre from Surrey, British Columbia, was chosen in the first round by the Ottawa BlackJacks, with the seventh overall pick, in the 2023 CEBL draft. Sandhu is a versatile player who can play multiple positions and contribute on both ends of the court. He spent his college career split between the UBC Thunderbirds and the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades.

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Sandhu’s basketball skills were evident during his college career, as he averaged 9.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 19.1 minutes in 97 games. He was a key veteran player for the Thunderbirds in his final year, as he averaged 11.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 22.7 minutes in 31 games. Sandhu’s hard work and impressive shooting abilities were on full display as he recorded four double-doubles and posted a season-best 26 points.

Aiden Warnzholtz – Niagara River Lions

Aiden Warnholtz, the sharpshooting guard from Kanata, Ont., was selected with the eighth pick of the 2023 CEBL USPORTS draft. It comes as no surprise given his standout performances in the 2022-23 season.

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The Carleton Raven guard had an outstanding season, which saw him win numerous awards, including his fourth straight U Sports championship, Jack Donohue Trophy awarded to the most valuable player in the U SPORTS Final 8 championship and a First Team All-Canadian.

Warnholtz’s incredible talent was on full display when he scored an outstanding career-high 42 points on 8-of-13 three-pointers against McGill on October 29, 2022. This feat makes him one of the few Carleton Ravens players to reach the 40-point mark in a single game.

Not only is Warnholtz a standout athlete, but he also exemplifies excellence off the court. He was nominated for the prestigious OUA Ken Shields Award, which recognizes exceptional achievements in basketball, academics, and community involvement.

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Scarborough Shooting Stars – David Muenkat

David Muenkat was picked ninth overall by the Scarborough Shooting Stars. The 6-foot-7 forward was the first overall pick in the 2022 CEBL U SPORTS Draft and went on to win the 2022-23 U SPORTS Defensive Player of the Year award.

He was also named a Second Team All-Canadian after averaging a career-best 15.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.4 steals in 20 games played for the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men. Muenkat led his team to the U SPORTS National Championship final this past season, where they were defeated by the Carleton Ravens.

Muenkat’s impressive defensive skills, rebounding ability, and scoring touch made him a valuable asset for the X-Men, and he will now bring those skills to the Scarborough Shooting Stars. He will have the opportunity to learn and grow alongside some of the best Canadian talent and seasoned professionals in the CEBL.

Brampton Honey Badgers – Najee Brown-Henderson

Najee Brown-Henderson was the final pick of the first round, selected tenth overall by the Brampton Honey Badgers. The 6-foot-2 guard from the University of Windsor averaged 20.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and five assists in 22 games played in the 2022-23 season. Brown-Henderson’s scoring prowess and ability to distribute the ball made him a standout performer for the Lancers, earning him the distinction of OUA West Player of the Year.

Brown-Henderson will now have the opportunity to take his game to the next level in the CEBL. He will join a talented Honey Badgers roster that includes 2022 CEBL MVP Shaquille Keith and veteran guard Alex Johnson. With his dynamic play making ability, Brown-Henderson has the potential to be a valuable contributor to the team’s success.

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RoundPickCEBL TeamFirst NameLast NameSchoolHometown
1WinnipegSimonHildebrandtUniversity of ManitobaWinnipeg, Man.
2MontréalAryanSharmaWestern UniversityMilton, Ont.
3CalgaryMasonBourcierTrinity Western UniversityKelowna, B.C.
4EdmontonSomtoDimanochieYork UniversityKleinberg, Ont.
15SaskatchewanAnthonyTsegakeleBrandon UniversityGatineau, Que.
6VancouverDiegoMaffiaUniversity of VictoriaVictoria, B.C.
7OttawaSukhmanSandhuUniversity of British ColumbiaSurrey, B.C.
8NiagaraAidenWarnholtzCarleton UniversityOttawa, Ont.
9ScarboroughDavidMuenkatSTFX UniversityBrampton, Ont.
10BramptonNajeeBrown-HendersonUniversity of WindsorWindsor, Ont.
11BramptonCallumBaker-MagnayeUniversity of TorontoOakville, Ont.
12ScarboroughDavidWalkerToronto Metropolitan UniversityToronto, Ont.
13NiagaraJordanTchuenteBrock UniversityOttawa, Ont.
14OttawaGuillaumePépinUniversity of OttawaMontréal, Que.
515VancouverBrianWallackUniversity of British ColumbiaSurrey, B.C.
16SaskatchewanIsaacSimonUniversity of AlbertaRegina, Sask.
17EdmontonAdamPaigeUniversity of AlbertaWhite Rock, B.C.
18CalgaryDeonEjimSTFX UniversityBrampton, Ont.
19MontrealBahaïdeHaïdaraUniversité du Québec à Montréal
Montréal, Que.
20 WinnipegTylerSaglLakehead University
Burlington, Ont.
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