© Submitted photo
The first three draft picks of the "Island" franchise in the fledgling National Basketball League of Canada were, from left: Tyrone Mattison, Chris Cayole and Justin Garris.
TORONTO - The first player selected by the "Island" franchise in the fledgling National Basketball League of Canada is eagerly anticipating his arrival in Canada's smallest province.
"I'm excited and can't wait to get out there and see what Prince Edward Island has to offer," said Justin Garris of Ledgewood, N.J. "I've heard great things about the people out there. I haven't seen much of Canada before."
The 22-year-old shooting guard out of Ashland University was the second overall pick in Sunday night's three-round player draft at Rogers Centre in Toronto. Each of the seven teams selected a free-agent player in the first round, and only Canadian players could be taken in the second and third rounds.
The players were selected after a two-day combine at Seneca College in Toronto, where team officials scouted players in scrimmage and game situations.
The remainder of the roster positions will be filled out during training camp. Each team will carry 12 players, with a minimum of two Canadians.
The Island team selected Chris Cayole, who is from Vermont, U.S.A., but has dual citizenship in Canada, in the second round and Tyrone Mattison of Toronto in Round 3.
"The draft went off without a hitch," said Duncan Shaw, co-owner of the Island team. "A lot of great players were available to the league.
"I'm thrilled with the guys we got. We got Chris Cayole in the second round, and we really talked of taking him in the first (round). We were thrilled he was still available. We got a great first pick, and a great point guard as the third pick."
The six-foot-four, 200-pound Garris is bringing a team-first attitude to the Island team, which will be based out of Credit Union Place in Summerside.
"I will play any position they want me to," said Garris in a phone interview following the draft. "I would play centre if that's what the team needed.
"I've played shooting guard all through college, and am pretty suited for that position."
Garris, who said the key to any championship team is an ability to play strong defence, likes playing "hard-nosed" basketball.
"I'm an up-and-down transition player, get the ball and go," he explained. "I can shoot and like to think of myself as a Jack of all trades."
It was decided during an owners meeting Friday that teams can open training camps any time after Oct. 1.
"We are probably going to start the second week of October," added Shaw, who expects there to be in the area of 18 players at camp.
Overall, Shaw termed the owners meeting as very productive.
"We spent a lot of time on national sponsors, and there will be some announcements coming that will be very exciting," he promised. "There were a lot of business and logistics discussed."