After sneaking into the CEBL finals last season, the Honey Badgers went big this offseason. Many big-time signings including G-League and NBA players make up an impressive roster. Hamilton decided to go with G-League coach Ryan Schmidt after completing the first season under the helm of Chantal Vallee. Schmidt brings experience and basketball IQ to the team and is a great steal for Hamilton. Schmidt will be one of the many big-name talents the Honey Badgers bring in.
Hamilton started the offseason signing bare bones. Their first signing came on March 24, nearly two months after free agency began. This signing was Duane Notice. Duane Notice is a former Raptors 905 player and returning Honey Badger. Notice averaged just over 11 points per game as the Badgers added him to the roster for the final 3 games of the season. Notice is a strong guard who has tons of elite-level experience, seeing extensive minutes with the Raptors 905 for two years as well as seeing court time in the NBA Summer League for the Raptors. Notice is also a lockdown defender who should give opposing guards a tough time.
The Honey Badgers didn’t sign anyone else until after the CEBL USPorts draft when they picked up three USports players who would all make the roster. Kadre Gray went in the first round out of Laurentian University as a 6’1 defensive-oriented guard who can rebound and score decently well. Lock Lam was selected in the second round out of Lakehead University. Lam is a 6’9 forward who can play all over the floor, whether beyond the perimeter taking threes, or taking post-ups on big men. Lam is a multi-dimensional player with lots of long term potential. In the third round Hamilton selected Eric Rwahwire out of the University of Toronto. Rwahwire is a solid two-way guard that can score and rebound. All three of these players could serve useful to Hamilton for developmental purposes.
They Honey Badgers brought back MiKyle McIntosh next. McIntosh joined the Honey Badgers late in the season with Notice. In two appearances with Hamilton he averaged 12 points per game to go along with 6 rebounds. McIntosh also has some G-League experience, playing with the Raptors 905 just prior to the CEBL season. McIntosh got substantial minutes with the 905 and was even relatively high on the scoring options list. McIntosh also got some playing time with the Raptors Summer League. We can expect a solid scorer with big man tendencies. McIntosh likes to crash the paint, and wreak havoc on the inside.
The next signing for the Honey Badgers was Caleb Agada. Agada was the Honey Badgers developmental project last season and apparently impressed the front office enough to earn a roster spot once again. Agada only appeared in a few games for Hamilton, so we can only assume it was what he did off the court that earned him a spot on the loaded Honey Badgers roster. Agada is known to be a decent scorer who is comfortable from pretty much anywhere on the floor, as well as a reliable playmaker.
The Honey Badgers finally began branching out to new names with the signing of Jean-Victor Mukama. Mukama is fresh out of Ryerson University, where he was an average scorer and an above-average rebounder. Mukama made the practice roster for the Raptors 905 before missing the final cuts to make the roster. The 6’8 forward will provide the Honey Badgers with deceptive size, and a huge boost in rebounding and general presence around the rim.
The Honey Badgers returned to their past next, resigning Mike Fraser. At 35 years old, Fraser is the oldest player in the CEBL, but he doesn’t show it. Fraser has been playing all over the world for over a decade and brings all of this experience and veteran leadership to the Honey Badgers. Fraser led the Honey Badgers in rebounding last season, averaging over 5 points and 7 rebounds per game. At 6’8, Fraser is a pure inside scorer, he finished the last CEBL season at 50% from the field. Fraser’s only downfall is that he hasn’t made a three since 2015, but he’s so good at what he does that he doesn’t even really need a three-point shot.
The Honey Badgers’ next signing was Acadia University standout, Owen Klassen. Klassen is pretty much good at everything. He can score really well, rebound at an elite level, play lock-down defense and knock down threes. Klassen is only entering his prime at 28 years old, he now plays for the Canadian National Team and is certainly one of Canada’s finest basketball products. Interestingly enough, he has never made a G-League roster, but perhaps the Honey Badgers will provide him with an opportunity to do this.
The next Honey Badgers signing would be yet again another G-League Raptors 905 member. Derek Cooke Jr. signed with Hamilton after 4 years in the G-League. Cooke played for the 905 with now-teammates Duane Notice and MiKyle McIntosh, as well as the Phoenix Suns G-League Affiliate for two years prior. The 6’9 forward is an impressive sight in the paint, earning every minute of his G-League stint. Cooke was actually good enough to earn a starting role for some games on the former G-League champions Raptors 905 with Fred Van Vleet and Pascal Siakam.
Hamilton followed up this big signing by bringing in Jaylen Babb-Harrison and Michael Hamilton (ironic). Babb played for the London Lightning last year, where he started 9 of 40 games. Babb ended up being a solid interior scorer for the Lightning despite being just 6’4. Hamilton is a lesser-known 6’5 point guard with untapped potential. His height and ball-handling skills make him a prime breakout candidate. He is also a local of Hamilton, Ontario, where he’s more known locally.
This is where things get interesting. The Honey Badgers blew the CEBL community out of the water with the announcement that they signed former Orlando Magic draft pick Justin Jackson. Jackson. Jackson was selected with the 43rd overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft by the Nuggets and traded to Orlando. Jackson was assigned to the Lakeland Magic, the Orlando Magic’s G-League affiliate, where he played decently well. Unfortunately, Jackson suffered a season-ending broken foot, and would be let go. This is the first we’ll have seen of Jackson since the injury. Jackson is an NBA-level talent who is going to be someone who could be the best player in the CEBL this season. Hamilton really hit the nail on the head with this big-time signing.
But wait, there’s more. The Honey Badgers shocked the CEBL community once again by signing more NBA talent. This time, it was former NBA point guard Briante Weber. Weber is an incredible two-way talent who logged minutes in NBA games for the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, and the Charlotte Hornets. Weber played 47 total games with these teams, and even signed a multi-year deal with the Charlotte Hornets before eventually being released for cap space issues. Weber is without a doubt the most intriguing, and accomplished player to ever sign with a CEBL team. Weber is an NBA-level scorer and defender who has played behind so many NBA superstars like Mike Conley, Steph Curry, Kemba Walker, James Harden, and Dwayne Wade. Weber also technically is an NBA champion, as he played 7 games for the 2016-2017 Golden State Warriors, who would go on to win the NBA championship over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Hamilton has put together a team full of NBA and G-League talent that will make a huge splash this season. The Honey Badgers will be looking to prove that last season was not a fluke and that they are an elite franchise that knows how to win games when it counts. The front office had an incredible off-season, and is patiently waiting to see how their new and improved roster performs on the hardwood.