Thursday, December 22, 2016

2016-17 Cape Breton Highlanders Season Preview

Courtesy: Cape Breton Post
Cape Breton is the first of two new expansion franchises set to start this season in the National Basketball League of Canada. After their expansion bid was approved by the league in 2015, the Highlanders and the Cape Breton hopefuls are ready for the 2016-17 season. Calling Centre200 in the heart of downtown Sydney home, the Highlanders have a solid mix of NBLC experience, talented newcomers with impressive resumes, and promising rookies.

After cutting their 20 man training camp roster down to just 13, the Highlanders took on the Island Storm in their first ever pre-season game.  While the outcome was disappointing for Cape Breton, they looked to have gotten better as the game went on and the lineups started to take shape.  President and GM Tyrone Levingston, along with Head Coach Dean Murray, have put in countless hours behind the scenes to promote the team, attract new sponsors and put the best possible product on the floor for opening night on December 27th.  Ad by all means they have done that.  The city of Sydney and the island of Cape Breton is behind their team and their players.

BACKCOURT: Hank Thorns, Booker Woodfox, Jarryn Skeete*, Chad Frazier, Morgan Lewis*, DeRonn Scott

The biggest name in the backcourt is 3x All-Star and NBLC champion, Morgan Lewis.  The Canadian guard joins his 4th NBLC team for his fifth season.  The savvy vet brings a mature presence to the locker room and is still an elite athlete with plenty to offer a new franchise.

Joining Lewis as a big name signing is point guard, Hank Thorns'.  The 5'9 Thorns was a member of the LA Clippers pre-season roster in 2012-13 and spent a season in the NBADL with the Maine Redclaws.  He's a proven ball handler with a knack for scoring and will fit well within Coach Murray's system.

The guard rotation is rounded out by Booker Woodfox, a D-League veteran and solid perimeter shooter, Jarryn Skeete, a Canadian guard who will compete for the starting job, Chad Frazier, a rangy guard with European experience, and DeRonn Scott, a long and athletic player who can do a little bit of everything.



FRONTCOURT: Shaquille Keith*, Glenroy Carr Jr, Austin Witter, Keith Thomas, Wyatt Anders*, Phillip Rankin Jr, Chadrack Lufile*

From the moment they traded for him, this has been Shaquille Keith's team.  The second year forward who was named to the All-Rookie and All-Canadian teams last season after a solid rookie campaign with the Windsor Express. Keith is going to be the guy in Cape Breton, and fans saw that in their exhibition game against the Island Storm where he scored 28 points.  He does everything well and the Highlanders will lean heavily on him this season.

Cape Breton has two Canadian big men joining the team in Chadrack Lufile and Wyatt Anders. Lufile is a former NBA D-League draft pick and reached the NCAA Final Four with the Wichita State Shockers.  Wyatt Anders joins the team as a fresh faced rookie out of the University of Winnipeg with a knack for rebounding on the offensive and defensive glass.

Rounding out the frontcourt is Glenroy Carr Jr, a workhorse forward who adds scoring and rebounding, Austin Witter, a long athletic forward with D-League experience, Keith Thomas and Phillip Rankin Jr, two first time pros and big time NJCAA players for their respective schools.

OUTLOOK:

Cape Breton has a nice roster, a solid front office and looks to be heading in the right direction as a franchise.  While they won't be competing for an NBLC championship any time soon, the Highlanders have a very solid chance at making the playoffs in the Atlantic Conference.  Their defense and rotations need some tweaking but the overall outlook for one of the newest franchises looks good.