For those of you not aware, the Edmonton Stingers are a professional basketball team in the Canadian Elite Basketball League, Canada’s premier basketball league. The CEBL is entering its second season this year.
The Edmonton Stingers have had an incredible off season following a disappointing ending to the season last year. In August 2019, the Stingers were considered favorites to win the championship, and were upset by the eventual CEBL champions, Saskatchewan Rattlers. Edmonton bounced back big time, starting the off season by announcing the return of head coach Jermaine Small. Small stepped in to the Stingers head coach role, where he led the team to a 10-2 record, including a league high 9 game win streak. Despite stepping in halfway through the season, Small was nominated for head coach of the year, but would fall short to Niagara River Lions head coach Victor Raso.
The Stingers first signing was also the first CEBL signing. The Stingers started things off by announcing the return of league MVP, and star point guard Xavier Moon. Moon razzled and dazzled all season long, averaging over 19 points and 6 assists per game. Moon was unstoppable, and earned himself a spot on the Raptors 905 training camp roster, before eventually being cut. Moon was easily the most unstoppable player in the CEBL, his ability to pull up and shoot from anywhere, slash, find teammates makes him a deadly weapon for the Stingers. Moon’s speed also makes him special, he can blow by any defender at will, and find his way to the rim, where he uses his Kyrie Irving-esque skills to score on anyone.
Xavier Moon was joined by 6’5 SG/SF Mathieu Kamba just days after being signed. Kamba also played for the Stingers last year, and was an extremely vital piece to the Stingers success. Kamba is a 3 and D player, who has insane athleticism, and a hustle mentality. Kamba was absent for the Stingers playoff game against the Rattlers, and his lack of presence was felt. Kamba will likely come off the bench this season, however he is a capable starter who knows his role, and plays it to the best of his ability.
The Stingers insured the return of all star Travis Daniels following Kamba’s signing. Daniels is a versatile big man, who can bully you in the paint, but also hit the outside shots. Daniel’s ability to score from anywhere on the floor makes him one of the deadliest big men in the league. Daniels embodies a modern big man. He can shoot, post-up, and defend all to a high degree. Daniels also has great pick and roll chemistry with Xavier Moon, so Stingers fans could be in for a treat once again.
Speaking of pick and roll, the Edmonton Stingers shocked the league, and signed all star big man Marlon Johnson. Johnson was a CEBL champion with the Saskatchewan Rattlers, and was the defensive player of the year runner up, to the eventual winner Sam Muldrow. Johnson is nicknamed the CEBL’s dunk king. His length, and shot blocking ability makes him one of the most difficult matchups in the CEBL. Johnson is a lot like Travis Daniels, with a slightly lower offensive ability, and increased defensive ability. Johnson also works extremely well on the pick and roll, and will surely find great success alongside Xavier Moon.
The Stingers also signed one more all star, bringing back the fan favorite, Jordan Baker. Baker was the CEBL rebounding champion, averaging a double double, and almost a triple double. Baker is an experienced leader, and the captain of the Stingers. Baker’s ability to do so much on the floor makes him one of the most efficient players in the CEBL. Baker also has coaching experience, so his basketball IQ is through the roof. To cap it all off, Baker is the toughest basketball player I have ever seen. Defenders will knock him to the ground over and over, Baker gets up every time, and stays in the game.
The Stingers first announced newcomer was University of Calgary alumni guard, Mambi Diawara. Diawara famously hit the game winning layup to win the University of Calgary the national championship in his senior year. Diawara is an incredible scorer, and a strong playmaker. Diawara is a swiss army knife in the way that he can really decide what he’s going to do in any given game. If Diawara needs to be a playmaker, he has that in his game, if the team needs a three, he’s got you. Diawara is also someone who has proven he can score in volumes, so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of role the Stingers give him.
The CEBL is special in the way that it actually makes signing USports (university) players to teams an essential part of the roster. This means while the University is in the off season, players can go and play pro for a CEBL team. The Stingers signed 3 USports players through the CEBL Entry Draft. First round pick Sascha Kappos definitely impresses the most. His length and potential make him one of the most intriguing prospects in the CEBL draft. The Stinger also signed Prince Kamunga and Xavier Ochu, both of whom are capable scorers, and hustle players. It’ll be very interesting to see how these players evolve throughout the season, just like USports player of the year Brody Clarke did last year.
Speaking of Brody Clarke, the Stingers made sure to bring back the local boy. Clarke will hopefully be stepping into an increased role, where he’ll be able to thrive with more minutes. Clarke is a super scorer, and a strong rebounder. Clarke also provides the Stingers with some muscle. With Grandy Glaze not returning, the Stingers will be looking for Clarke to provide them with the interior presence that they need. Travis Daniels and Marlon Johnson will be in and out of the paint, so Clarke provides the Stingers with some inside consistency.
The Stingers also put a high importance on resigning Adika Peter McNeilly. Adika played backup point guard last year behind Xavier Moon and Deondre Parks, and he’ll probably fill this role again. Adika is a capable veteran, who has a hot hand from the three point line. Adika also directs traffic so well, and is one of the strongest playmakers in the CEBL. Adika was the clear 6th man of the year last year, despite the CEBL not offering the award.
Zac Overwater also resigned with the Stingers. Overwater didn’t see much playing time last year, but his impact was felt off the floor. Overwater was a great bench presence, and prided himself with being the glue guy for the Stingers. Despite being a younger player on the team, Overwater was a leader of sorts for the Stingers. Overwater also makes the most of his minutes. While he struggles at times with his shot, he is a strong interior defensive presence that provided the Stingers with an underrated impact last year.
The Stingers filled their training camp roster with Daniel Ferguson, Godwin Boahen, Ben Miller and Marvin Ngonadi. While these 4 are lesser known players, there is a chance we could see one of them on the practice roster, maybe even seeing a few minutes in garbage time, depending on injuries. I will mention that Godwin Boahen seems like a gem to me, his shot looks smooth, and he looks quick. But we’ll have to stay tuned for that.
With all things taken into consideration, the Stingers had an incredible offseason. Edmonton is now home to 4 of the 10 CEBL all stars last year, including the MVP, defensive player of the year runner up, Canadian of the year runner up, and coach of the year runner up, it seems hard to place any team above them as favorites to win it all. This team also has a little bit of everything. With a projected starting lineup of Xavier Moon, Mambi Diawara, Jordan Baker, Travis Daniels and Marlon Johnson, the Stingers satisfy everything from scoring to rebounding, to shooters, to defense. It seems like every player on this roster has their own contributions, and will have a great impact on the collective. This paired with a strong bench, and an elite coaching staff, makes the Stingers the deadliest team in the CEBL in 2020.