Basketball team

Presentation of the Newfoundland Growlers basketball team at the start of the first training camp

ST. JOHN’S, NL “A lot was going on inside the old Memorial University gymnasium on Wednesday afternoon, May 25.

On the other end of the court, Newfoundland Growlers head basketball coach Patrick Ewing Jr. and his staff were discussing a small part of what they wanted to run.

At the other end, forward Shaquille Keith was sweaty and making stationary jump shots to a side basket. Within minutes, the Toronto, Ont., native was putting on his jersey for the photos.


As if that weren’t enough, guard Junior Cadougan had his picture taken with the Newfoundland and Labrador flag draped over his shoulders.

It was the first Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) media day for the Growlers, and with the start of training camp scheduled for Thursday, there’s plenty to do.



On Wednesday, players moved from station to station to take their photos, shoot videos and get caught when they were allowed.

It’s a bit like the first day of school. There are handshakes, questions and a general feeling process between the players.

Still, there is buzz in the gym. He has coaches eager to get to work.

“I really like the pieces we put together. Between the players and the staff, I think we’ve done a good job hiring good people who can do a good job,” said Ewing Jr. “So I’m really excited. I think the guys are excited. They’re up there talking, laughing in the locker room and really getting to know each other.

“I expect us to do pretty well and I really want us to push these guys to be better every day.”


Jahvon Blair hasn’t played basketball in Canada since he was 17 and is with the Growlers in their first season in the Canadian Elite Basketball League. Nicholas Mercer/The Telegram – Nicholas Mercer/The Telegram

Some new faces, some old ones

Players in camp with the Growlers can probably be divided into players who have been to St. John’s before and those who haven’t.

In the camp of those who have, you’ll find Cadougan and Keith, who both have previous ties to the St. John’s Edge in the National Basketball League of Canada.

On top of that, Cadougan played under Ewing Jr. with the Ottawa BlackJacks last season.

Both players had great things to say about their old turf. It made the decision to return to St. John’s easy.

“People, fans who love here are just real men. I feel like I came from here,” Cadougan said. “I’m just excited. I know how exciting (fans) are and I can’t wait to get to work.

For others, it’s the first time they’ve visited the province, let alone played basketball here. Top-flight goaltender Brandon Sampson hails from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

A player with NBA and NBA G League experience, Sampson never thought basketball would take him to Newfoundland and Labrador – seeing as a whale is on his to-do list. do – but the game is traveling and he can’t wait to get started.

“Just to bring excitement to (the city),” he said. “I haven’t been here, (I) just want the full experience all around. Basketball and the city itself.

“It’s a new experience for me all around. So I’m excited.


St. John's native Cole Long got his first taste of a pro basketball training camp when the Newfoundland Growlers opened camp Wednesday at the old Memorial University gymnasium in St. John's. .  Nicholas Mercer/The Telegram - Nicholas Mercer/The Telegram
St. John’s native Cole Long got his first taste of a pro basketball training camp when the Newfoundland Growlers opened camp Wednesday at the old Memorial University gymnasium in St. John’s. . Nicholas Mercer/The Telegram – Nicholas Mercer/The Telegram

A local boy makes it big

St. John’s native Cole Long isn’t going far to start his professional career.

The former Memorial University Sea-Hawk has intimate knowledge of the old Memorial Gymnasium, where he will spend training camp, and the Field House, where the Growlers will play their home games.

“I’m just thrilled to get it, to kick things off and bring that environment back to St. John’s. It’s been a while,” Long said. “It’s just a really exciting time for basketball, especially basketball in Newfoundland.”

For Long, it’s all part of a dream to play professional basketball. It’s a bonus to be able to do that in his hometown.

“It’s been a dream line to play professional basketball. I’ve been able to achieve a lot of my dreams with college and that kind of stuff,” he said. “So (it’s) that the next leg of the journey and be more excited.”


Brandon Sampson has NBA experience and he will use it to help the Growlers in their first CEBL season.  Nicholas Mercer/The Telegram - Nicholas Mercer/The Telegram
Brandon Sampson has NBA experience and he will use it to help the Growlers in their first CEBL season. Nicholas Mercer/The Telegram – Nicholas Mercer/The Telegram

Jahvon Blair hasn’t played basketball in Canada since he was 17, when he left Orangeville Prep – where he was a teammate of Long – heading to Georgetown University.

There he played for Patrick Ewing Sr. and formed a strong relationship with him and his son.

So when Ewing Jr. called, it was an easy decision to go home, so to speak.

“It was a no-brainer, especially coming home to play,” Blair said.

When he looks at the team roster and what the Growlers have put together, he sees a team that can do a bit of everything.

Blair sees scorers, defenders, shooters and rebounders. It’s one of the reasons he’s excited to step onto the court and compete.

“I love this band and I think we’re going to be really special,” Blair said. “So I can’t wait.”