SUMMERSIDE - The fledgling National Basketball League of Canada will be looking for more than just talented basketball players when it holds its player draft in Toronto on Sunday, Aug. 21.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Garth Turtle of Summerside is president of Basketball P.E.I.
"We are not just looking for the best basketball players," emphasized league co-founder, president and CEO Andre Levingston, who also owns the Halifax Rainmen. "We are looking for individuals who will represent our communities the right way. . .
"We want the best individuals we can get - respectful, giving back, speaking in our schools and inspiring the kids to do the right things. These are the individuals we are looking for when scouting talent."
Duncan Shaw, co-owner of the yet-to-be-named "Island" franchise, is in full agreement with that philosophy.
"The thing that turned my mind around about pursuing this (franchise) was when Andre told me that in every player contract that he has (with the Rainmen), is a commitment from the player for the amount of time that player is going to spend in the community giving back to the community that supports them," said Shaw during a recent Summerside Chamber of Commerce business mixer, where it was announced the "Island" franchise will be based in Summerside.
Basketball P.E.I. president Garth Turtle of Summerside is very excited about the potential possibilities of working closely with the pro team.
"We are not just looking for the best basketball players. We are looking for individuals who will represent our communities the right way. . . "We want the best individuals we can get - respectful, giving back, speaking in our schools and inspiring the kids to do the right things. These are the individuals we are looking for when scouting talent." League co-founder, president and CEO Andre Levingston
"Our mandate on P.E.I. is to create as many basketball opportunities on P.E.I. as possible for the children of P.E.I.," said Turtle. "To have these role models in our town, and allow the children to see the skill of these young men playing basketball, will be a great benefit to us."
Shaw and Levingston both commented the pro team will also give young basketball players something to aspire to.
"Kids can dream about being a professional hockey player, because they see it all the time," said Levingston. "They couldn't dream of being professional basketball players, because they couldn't see it anywhere. This gives them the opportunity to begin dreaming.
Shaw added: "I was driving down here today, and was thinking what a phenomenal thing it would be for a young man trying out in Grade 7 for the Summerside Intermediate (School) team. You can look at him and say, 'You can grow up and play professional sports on P.E.I., and never leave home.'
"Until today, we have never been able to say that."
The "Island" team's home opener is scheduled for Credit Union Place on Nov. 3.