Potential Future NBA Stars Are Hitting the Basketball Court at The Place Bell
Basketball fever is sweeping over Montreal especially after some of our very own homegrown players have been drafted into the NBA. the NCAA will be taking over Place Bell in Laval with a Division 1 men’s tournament that will span across three days from Friday, November 25th to Sunday, November 27th. Six teams will be making the trek north to highlight their skills in the exhibition tournament dubbed the Northern Classic.
Although the teams attending may not be the highest-ranked colleges in the NCAA there will not be any shortage of talent. Day passes are available and there are tickets as low as 20$ making the event extremely inclusive to all financial classes. If you have a love of basketball or want to encourage your loved ones who already play the game this is an amazing weekend for you to enjoy.
The History of schools participating in the Northern Classic Tournament has rich histories and will certainly be bringing their best to Place Bell. Tickets are available here: https://evenko.ca/en/events/49729/division-1-men-college-basketball-tournament/place-bell/11-25-2022
The teams competing are as follows:
Hofstra Pride is currently playing in the Colonial Athletic Conference in the NCAA’s Division 1 series. Hofstra University is located in Hempstead, New York, and was originally an extended campus of New York University in 1935 before becoming an independent school in 1939.
Hofstra has made the Division 1 tournament 4 times throughout their history losing in each of their separate appearances. Fourteen NBA players have been drafted out of Hofstra the latest being in 2019 when the Utah Jazz selected him 53rd overall.
Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders
Found in the south of the United States in Murfreesboro, Tennessee the Blue Raiders play in the Conference USA in NCAA’s Division 1. Middle Tennessee State was established in 1911 and is primarily known for its music and Aerospace programs which partner with the US military for research purposes.
The Blue Raiders Basketball team has reached the Sweet Sixteen tournament nine times winning four of those games and winning zero championships. Eleven players have been drafted to the NBA and the last player to be selected was back in 1987 when the Washington Wizards drafted Duane Washington in the second-round thirteenth overall.
Montana State Bobcats
Bozeman, Montana is the home of the Bobcats who play in the Big Sky Conference in NCAA’s Division 1. Montana State University was founded in 1893 with only eight students enrolled which has now grown to have more than sixteen thousand students in 2022. The Bobcats have won multiple division titles but have not been able to win any of the four appearances in the NCAA tournament throughout their long history. Klein Blevins was the only Bobcat who ever played a game in the NBA for the Portland Trail Blazers in 2020, he was an undrafted player. Ten players have been drafted out of Montana State, but none would ever make it to NBA courts.
Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Stephen F. Austin University calls Nacogdoches, Texas home and its basketball program competes in NCAA’s Division 1 Western Athletic Conference. Named after one of Texas’ founding fathers Stephen F. Austin University was founded in 1923.
The Lumberjack basketball program is relatively new compared to other schools with only 38 seasons under their belts. The Lumberjacks have made the NCAA Tournament 5 times only winning two games during that time, no championships were ever won. Eight players have been drafted and the last player and play in the NBA was James Silas in 1972 by the San Antonio Spurs.
UNC Greensboro Spartans
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is a public research university, and its Spartans proudly represent their sports programs in the NCAA. UNC Greensboro opened its doors in 1891 and has grown into a 250-acre campus. The Spartans Basketball team ascended to Division 1 status in 1992 participating in the Big South Conference.
The Spartans have made the NCAA tournament four times never winning a game in any of their first-round games. No players have been drafted to the NBA from the Greensboro Spartans but Isaiah Miller who played for the school made it to the big leagues undrafted playing for the Salt Lake City Stars in the NBA’s G League.
The Quinnipiac University and its Bobcats hail from three different campuses in Hamden, York Hill, and North Haven in Connecticut. The Bobcats are currently playing in the NCAA Division 1 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference since 2013. Quinnipiac University was founded in 1929 and currently is attended by more than 10,000 students across its three campuses.
Their men’s basketball team has never made an appearance in the NCAA Division 1 tournament. Two Bobcats were drafted into the NBA in the seventies but neither of them was able to make the teams that selected them.
From Montreal to the NCAA To Becoming NBA Players
Basketball’s popularity in Montreal has steadily reason over the years and the desire to have our own NBA team is extremely strong. During the 2022 NBA draft Montreal was elated to hear that twenty-year-old Bennedict Mathurin was drafted sixth overall by the Indiana Pacers from the University of Arizona in the NCAA. Mathurin is the highest-drafted NBA player in Montreal’s history.
Moments like this only encourage more kids to follow and play the sport because it suddenly feels like there is always a chance you can make it to the big leagues. Mathurin is not the lone Montrealer to play in the league this year as he joins Chris Boucher and Lugentz Dort.
All three players come from the Montreal North region of the city which is a rougher and poorer neighborhood. Chris Boucher will be returning to Montreal on October 14th with the Toronto Raptors and is sure to receive an ovation for his accomplishments. Boucher is also the only Montrealer to have won an NBA championship playing with the Raptors in the 2018-2019 season and the Golden State Warriors in the 2017-2018 season.
Lugentz Dort made it to the NBA the hard way by going undrafted in 2019, signing a two-way contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and earning a full-time roster spot the following season. Dort cashed in this year by signing a five-year deal with the Thunder worth 87.5 million dollars. Dort has come a long way from the mean streets of Montreal North.
Throughout NBA history, a total of nine players have been drafted to play at that elite level. This current flow of Montreal basketball players making a splash in the NBA is welcome news and helps further push our city’s quest for our team.
AN ALTERNATIVE FOR THE NBA IN MONTREAL
The NBA is not in Montreal yet, but a professional team called the Montreal Alliance plays in the Canadian Elite Basketball League. The Alliance plays at the Verdun Auditorium and has attracted a huge number of fans to keep the team alive. Watching the Alliance is a fantastic opportunity to watch upcoming Basketball players who might become NBA players in the future and at the least, you will watch competitive games in an intimate environment.