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J. Cole makes Canadian basketball debut with Scarborough Shooting Stars

J. Cole makes Canadian basketball debut with Scarborough Shooting Stars
J. Cole performs at the Dreamville Festival on April 3, 2022. (Credit: Andrew Craft/USA TODAY NETWORK)

GUELPH, Ontario (BVM) – It was a night of debuts on Thursday in Guelph. 

The Scarborough Shooting Stars kicked off their inaugural season as an expansion team of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL). Meanwhile, Grammy Award-winning rapper J. Cole made his first appearance in the league at 37 years old.

Cole flashed his hops, ball handling and shooting before Thursday night’s tilt against the Guelph Nighthawks.

Coming off the Scarborough bench, Cole entered the game to cheers with five minutes left in the first quarter and the Shooting Stars clinging to a 10-8 lead. He missed his first three shot attempts of the game (including an air ball), all three-pointers, before registering his first assist in the CEBL in the third quarter. 

Cole notched his first rebound early in the fourth quarter with Scarborough leading 66-64 and minutes later, sank his first bucket, a corner three-pointer to give the Shooting Stars a 69-67 lead with 8:37 remaining. He remained on the bench for the closing moments of the game as Guelph won 89-80 in the season opener. 

The 37-year-old Cole finished his Canadian pro basketball debut with three points on 1-of-4 shooting with one rebound, one assist and one foul in 14 minutes of action. Cat Barber led the Nighthawks with 20 points while Ahmed Hill – an undrafted free agent out of Virgina Tech who played four preseason games with the Charlotte Hornets in the 2019-20 season – dropped 18 points. 

Cole signed with the Shooting Stars earlier this month, nearly a year after playing professionally with the Rwanda Patriots of the Basketball Africa League (BAL). He appeared in three games for the Patriots during the 2021 season and finished with totals of five points, three assists and five rebounds in 45 minutes of game action off the bench before leaving for what was reported as a family obligation. 

Scarborough is one of three expansion teams this season in the CEBL – which was founded in 2017 and began play in 2019 with six teams – along with the Newfoundland Growlers and Montreal Alliance. The Shooting Stars are part-owned by Niko Carino – one of the co-founders of rapper Drake’s OVO label – and their front office includes former NBA all-star Jamaal Magloire who operates as the team’s vice president and senior adviser. 

The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, a legacy facility of the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games, is the home arena of Scarborough. Cole and the Shooting Stars are back in action this Sunday vs. the Montreal Alliance.

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