He’ll have to wait for COVID-19 restrictions to ease before he can actually play in front of family and friends, but Adam Paige is coming home to play basketball nevertheless, after being selected by the Fraser Valley Bandits in the Canadian Elite Basketball League’s U Sports Draft.
The six-foot-eight Semiahmoo Secondary grad, currently in his third season playing for the University of Alberta Golden Bears in U Sports’ Canada West Conference, was picked in the second round – ninth overall – by the Abbotsford-based Bandits Wednesday.
The Bandits are the only B.C. team in the seven-team CEBL, a pro circuit that was formed in 2019.
“I’m really excited for it. I’ve been watching and keeping up with the CEBL for the two years it’s been running. It’s really exciting to have a pro team in the Vancouver area, and to be a hometown kid who gets to play for that team is going to be awesome,” Paige told Peace Arch News.
“Obviously this year, we don’t know if fans will be allowed, but when they are, it’ll be awesome to have my family and friends come watch me. They’ve watched me in high school, they’ve come here to watch me in university, but playing at the pro level, that’s the next thing, so that will be great.”
Paige – who was on his way back to Edmonton when he spoke with PAN – will finish his school year before joining the Bandits for their summer season. Playing pro in the CEBL does not affect his U Sports eligibility; he still has three seasons left to play for the Golden Bears.
Though the 2020-21 season was cancelled due to COVID-19, Paige had two strong seasons in Edmonton prior to that. In 2019-20, he averaged more than 22 minutes a game and scored 12.9 points per game. He also averaged more than five rebounds a game and shot better than 41 per cent from beyond the three-point line.
He was named the Canada West rookie of the year in 2018-19, and also played for Canada’s junior national team a the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup in France.
“Adam has shown in his first two years at Alberta that he can impact the game on both sides of the (court). Given his local ties to the Fraser Valley… having the opportunity to be part of a professional environment where he can develop, learn and improve represents a tremendous chance for him to grow as an individual on and off the court,” said Golden Bears men’s basketball head coach Barnaby Craddock in a release.
Paige, who helped lead the Semiahmoo Totems to a second-place finish at the 2018 BC High School 4A Boys Basketball Championships, said he will head to the Bandits with no specific expectations, but rather will aim to soak up the pro atmosphere and learn as much as he can.
“I’m not expecting a lot of playing time (at the start) but I think there is an opportunity for me to contribute,” he said. “There have been a few other U Sports players (in the CEBL) who have been contributors to their teams, so there will be an opportunity for me if I work hard enough.
“It’s all on my shoulders.”
Paige compared the task ahead of him – learning the pro game – to what he went through when moving from the high-school ranks to the university level.
“Obviously, I haven’t played any professional-level basketball yet, but there’s (going to be) a pace difference, a skill difference, and guys who have a lot of strength and quickness,” he said.
“My first two years (at university), we had a couple seniors who were All-Canadians, so getting my butt kicked every day in practice helped me. As much as it sucked, it was huge for my development. So now, I just want to get in there (with the Bandits) and soak up as much as I can.”
The CEBL is set to begin play in June, and the Bandits’ first game is scheduled for June 5 against the Edmonton Stingers.