Growlers Basketball Coach and General Manager Ewing Jr. Excited to Bring CEBL to The Rock

Patrick Ewing Jr., left, is the first head coach and general manager of the Newfoundland Growlers basketball team. (Submitted by the Newfoundland Growlers)

The Newfoundland Growlers basketball team added a few hoops ahead of its inaugural season, naming Patrick Ewing Jr. — son of New York Knicks legend Patrick Ewing — the club’s head coach and general manager.

Ewing Jr. had an eight-year professional career, playing with the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets and several minor league teams, where he was named All-League and All-Star. He has also traveled to Germany, Spain, Greece and Qatar.

“I’m super excited. I’m having fun getting my staff together and looking for players. I can’t wait to get out there and start training and playing,” Ewing Jr. told CBC News on Friday.

“I’ve heard nothing but good things about St. John’s. People I’ve met who are from there who have contacted me via social media or any other means have been nothing but respectful and courteous .”

But taking the helm as the head coach of a professional team is as new to Ewing Jr. as the Canadian Basketball Elite League is to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ewing Jr. began his coaching career last year in the CEBL as an assistant coach for the Ottawa BlackJacks. He said he received a call from the Growlers organization in early January expressing interest in bringing him into their first season.

Patrick Ewing Jr. began his coaching career in Ottawa as an assistant coach with the CEBL BlackJacks. (Submitted by the Newfoundland Growlers)

“I’m excited to get there and be in the thick of it,” he said.

“It’s a lot of work… You try to convince guys to come and play for a new coach, to play in a new system, to be in a new city, which in itself is not a difficult thing to do, but it’s tedious and you want to make sure you have the right guys.”

CEBL talent is legit, says coach

While CEBL may be new to Newfoundland and Labrador, Ewing Jr. disputes that it is a high-skill level of professional basketball.

It’s a summer league that starts in June and ends in August with 10 teams spread across Canada.

Ewing Jr. said five players last season signed two-way contracts in the NBA, and it wouldn’t be surprising to find current or former NBA stars in the ranks.

“CEBL is nice because it’s at a time when most players who play professionally aren’t really doing anything. They’re just training, preparing for next year,” he said.

“It allows you to play at a high level of basketball, stay in shape and prepare for your next season. It’s as professional a league as any other league in Europe or America.”

This summer, Ewing Jr. will be visiting Newfoundland and Labrador for the first time, and he said his wife has already done the research. Whale watching, puffins and George Street were among the early successes, he said.

He said he plans to bring his wife and four children to the province once school is out for the year at his current home just outside Washington, D.C.

Training camp for the Growlers begins in May. Ewing Jr. said he planned to arrive two weeks before camp.

The Growlers’ season kicks off with a pair of weekend home games on June 3 against the defending champions Edmonton Stingers and the Ottawa BlackJacks on June 5.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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