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Saskatchewan Rattlers draft picks await first taste of pro basketball

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WATCH: The Saskatchewan Rattlers' first crop of U Sports draft picks is excited to join the professional ranks once the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.

Growing up in Saskatoon, Alex Dewar didn’t spend much time thinking about playing professional basketball. He just wanted to be part of the top team at his high school.

Then the Saskatchewan Rattlers came to town.

“When I look back at it, thinking when I was younger, like in Grade 9 and 10, [I was] just hoping to make the senior team, to now actually having this experience. It’s pretty surreal,” he said.

As part of its mission to develop homegrown talent, the Canadian Elite Basketball League recently held its first ever U SPORTS draft. Each of the league’s seven teams was allotted three selections and the Rattlers used one of theirs on Dewar.

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While most of the other players taken in the draft have played four or five years of university hoops, the Marion Graham Collegiate grad just wrapped up his second season with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

Despite Dewar’s relative youth, Rattlers general manager Barry Rawlyk, who is also the Huskies’ head coach, believes he is ready for his first taste of pro hoops.

“Alexander is an absolute warrior and a fantastic team player — his determination and hard work ethic will translate well into the professional game,” Rawlyk said in a team release.

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Eerily quiet at SaskTel Centre

This past season with the Huskies, Dewar averaged 16.7 points per game and shot nearly 50 per cent from the floor. While he likely won’t play significant minutes in his rookie season with the Rattlers, instead filling more of a reserve role, he plans to soak up everything he can.

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“They have some cream of the crop players there who are very athletic, strong, skilled, so it’s definitely going to be a learning curve and I definitely want to use the experience to develop my game,” Dewar said.

The other members of the Rattler’s 2020 U SPORTS draft class are fifth-year Huskie Chan De Ciman and fellow guard Rashawn Browne, who recently completed his final year of eligibility with the University of Manitoba Bisons.

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De Ciman is returning for his second season with the Rattlers but his first as an official draft selection. In 2019, the graduate of Dr. Martin Leboldus High School in Regina was added to the team’s roster as a U SPORTS developmental player before suffering an injury midway through the CEBL season.

As for Browne, it wasn’t until recently that he started to see that going pro was a real possibility.

“Five years ago, if you asked me if I was going to play professional basketball, I probably would have said no, just because I didn’t see myself taking the steps that I did,” Brown said. “But yeah, now that I have it’s a blessing, so I’m very excited to be part of the team.”

While the May 7 tipoff to the CEBL season is still very much up in the air due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the newest Rattlers are doing what they can to be ready in hopes of getting back on the court soon.

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When that time comes, they’ll step onto the floor as pros for the first time in their basketball careers.